Although we’d probably all prefer that being a parents is always joyful, the sad truth is that sometimes it is really not. The loss of a child, whether by miscarriage, a loss near or at birth, or the death of a child, is not something that we often discuss. In fact, the loss of a child is rarely mentioned. It is an uncomfortable topic for most of us, and it seems safer not to speak of such things – as though talking about it might somehow inflict that kind of tragedy on our own beloved children. What most of us don’t realize though is that once you have lost a child in any way, not speaking of him or her and never having your missing child mentioned is almost like losing them all over again. There are SO many emotions that go along with loss, and it is so, so hard to navigate the rough waters of such fathomless depths of tragedy.
Many of the moms I know who have lost a child, especially who have lost a child through miscarriage, have a hard time answering the question, “how many children do you have?” Mentioning the missing child seems wrong, feels wrong; but there’s an inner dialouge that wonders if there is an easy and quick way to get the facts about the child you lost without making a big deal out of the revelation, or if you’re even in the mood to reveal your loss, and so should you just mention the number of living children…but is it disrespectful not to mention the lost child, and is it even anyone’s business how you answer that question??… it’s a process that can cause a panic attack if the mom is unprepared.
And it does sneak up on you. Moments of profound sorrow in an otherwise normal day. Having someone unexpectedly ask a question or seeing something that brings back a memory can drive waves of emotion up that choke the breath from your throat. It’s rarely appropriate to start screaming in the middle of the grocery store, but in a perfect world, that’s what you might very well do. Then there are days where you feel like keeping everything about your experience private and the mention of it stirs up anger at having grief intrude on your otherwise peaceful day. That may be one of the hardest things for me, personally, is never knowing how I will react to the mention of my angel baby.
I would never presume to put words in the mouths of mothers who have lost babies during or shortly after birth or who have lost children who are older. My only personal experience with the loss of a child comes from miscarriage. As horrible as my experience was, both physically and emotionally, I can only imagine how many scenarios that would have been so much worse to live through. My heart aches for mothers who have gone through their pregnancy thinking everything would be fine, only to give birth to a still baby. For the mother who has held her living, breathing pink bundle only to find themselves making funeral arrangements a few days later. For the family who spends their child’s whole life in and out of hospitals due to chronic illness, and for those who have had tragedy befall them suddenly and unexpectedly… there is nothing I have experienced that is anywhere near the soul-rending pain of losing a child.
Though nothing will truly “help”, here are some websites, articles and interactive blogs that offer ways to connect with other parents. I found a great deal of support in reading the experiences of others who have lost children, and in sharing my own story. I hope that you may find a measure of comfort in such a way as well.
Support for parents during and after a loss:
Mothering.Com’s Pregnancy & Birth Loss Forum – VERY supportive, includes a “what to expect/what do you see” thread for mothers waiting to miscarry. MDC’s Grief & Loss Forum is more generalized, but there are several threads about the loss of an older child.
Chapter Name: TCF of Beaumont Texas
Chapter Number: 2267
(409) 866-1788 – Jessie
Meeting Info: 4th Monday of each month 7:00-9:00 pm Shorkey Center – 655 South 8th Street
Remembrance jewelery and other ways to honor your precious little one:
A personal recommendation from Heather for www.etsy.com seller “sTuck in the Coop” item here. I bought this necklace with a shamrock pendant (for my husband), and two of the bars have my boys’ names, birthdate and nickname stamped on them. The third bar has “Angel Baby” stamped on one side, my due date (Dec. 2009) one one side, when we lost our little bean (June 2009) and “NIMA-EIMH” on the fourth side, which stands for “Never in my arms, ever in my heart”. The lady’s name is Heather Ellis and she was absolutely wonderful.
There are many more websites offering support than we can list here. If you know of a site or article that was helpful to you, please feel free to comment on this post with a link.
Wishing those of you who have experienced the loss of a child healing thoughts,