A primer in dealing with dead babies

I’m going to be blunt, and this will offend people. It will offend anyone hiding behind “good intentions” to shield themselves from taking responsibility for hurting someone; anyone who has defended someone else’s offensive actions by saying, “Well, they didn’t know” and thinking that makes it all okay.
I really don’t give a shit.
Be warned: if you come in here and bitch to me that you got your precious feelings hurt, I’m not going to treat it very kindly.

I get that death makes people feel awkward. Most of us are in therapy about death to help us deal with it – myself included.
I can’t handle the subject at all. In fact, I recall knowing someone years before I even had Tempest who had a (graphic) photo of her stillborn son on her diary page. This creeped me out. I thought that was really weird. I never said anything, as it wasn’t my place, but I did think it was odd. Why would you have that there? Why would you want to show other people that? I didn’t even take two seconds to consider what it would be like in that person’s position. All I thought about was me, and my reactions. And I was wrong.

Fifty years ago when a mother lost a child, everyone dealt with it by sweeping it under the rug. You weren’t allowed to acknowledge your child’s life, however brief, before being released from the hospital and pushed to go home and have enough sex with your husband that you’ll eventually “forget” about that silly pain once you had a replacement baby.

We like to think we’re in a more civilized culture now; but the truth is not much has changed. We may be able to acknowledge our children in the hospital: see them, hold them, love them… but the people around us haven’t changed at all. They still sweep you under the rug and hide it with “good intentions”. We don’t want to make the fragile grieving mother sad, now do we? We wouldn’t want to “remind” her that she loves her baby.
I’m going to burst your bubble: your good intentions are bullshit, and hiding behind them like a curtain is only going to get you in trouble. You are hurting people.

You act like remembering my son is the same thing as remembering a rape. God forbid I remember it, think about it, talk about it, acknowledge it in some way. I might be re-traumatized. I might be fucked up forever. The very idea of the subject makes you uncomfortable. You don’t know what to do, what to say, how to act… what’s the right thing? I know – distraction!
Hey, isn’t it a nice day outside? Didn’t you get a new puppy? When will you get pregnant again? Those are happy things, right?
Do you think I’m wiping my forehead with relief that you purposefully avoided honouring my son’s memory lest I shed a tear? Well aren’t you a mother fucking hero.

Tip: If you find yourself talking to someone who has lost a child and you don’t know what to do, don’t make it all about you by acting on your own awkward feelings and then projecting them onto others. They must feel awkward, they must not want to be reminded of it, they must not want to feel ‘sad’ so I just won’t mention it.
Stop fooling yourself and grow the fuck up. None of that has nothing to do with them: that’s all you. That’s you being selfish, offensive and inconsiderate.

Oh, I’m sorry – did I hurt your little feelings by calling you on being a fuck-up?
Poor little you.
Are you embarrassed? Are you feeling guilty and want to blame someone else for your own vast, vapid ignorance? Are going to tell me I’ll win more flies with honey? Are you going to tell me I should be nicer to you after you dishonoured everything I hold dear? Let me go get my violin.

Do you really think that someone who has lost a child never wants to speak of it? Wants to shove them under the rug and forget about them? Never wants to risk tearing up or feeling sad so instead they conveniently forget the child never existed?
Think about that for a second. Think about it hard. I know it’s difficult, but remove yourself from the situation and just think about them.
….Does it still make sense to you?

My friend and I started the only grief group in town for parents who have lost children. We were shocked at the lack of support offered on this subject in a city so large. Sure, there was a lone grief counsellor who offered a few free sessions – but that’s hardly “support”.
When we finally all got together we were able to talk freely, joke, laugh, cry, complain, share… every time we have a new member we go over the same thing again: “I’m so sick of people pretending my child doesn’t exist. I want to shout it from the rooftops: they existed!”.

Why do we all feel this way? Why do we all feel so angry and upset over this that we’re willing to go to incredible lengths to force the people around us into realizing we had another child?


You and your precious awkward feelings. You and your projecting. Your excuses. Your fear. Your dainty sense of selfish caution that makes you feel it’s okay to deny the existence of a child completely. A child someone loved, cherished, wanted, desperately prayed and hoped for, held in their arms, cuddled, kissed, cried over and will never forget.

We lost hope. We lost a future. A life flickered out of existence and we still have all these dreams and wishes unanswered.
No first steps, first babbles, first grade, first love, first illness, first job, first broken heart… no hugs, no “I love you mommy”s, no graduation, no wedding, no grandkids. That little future is gone forever.
All we have left is a loc of hair, a footprint, a bloodstain and a few clothes that touched skin now ashes floating in the wind. A mere memory.

How easy is it for you to forget? Good for you. I’m glad for you. I’m happy that life awarded you enough ignorance that you can be superstitious and act like we have some sort of contagious disease.
I’m glad you’ve never experienced this.
I sincerely hope you never do.
But you have no reason to shame me.
And that’s what you’re doing when you refuse to acknowledge my son. Refuse to talk about him because it “might make me sad”. Refuse to look me in the eye. When you say I’m a parent of “two” children. When you ‘forget’ to mention him because it might ‘remind me’ of him. God forbid I become sad… like that would be the end of the goddamn world. What are you really afraid of? That I might become tearful, turn around and talk to you about my creepy, blue, lifeless son? Does it freak you out that I held him? Does it make you ill to think I kissed him? That I loved him? That I held onto his dead body for hours, hopeless, paralyzed, trying to hug him so tightly that I could force him back into me and make him live for one more minute?

Does it make you squirm to know I have nothing left but ashes?

Poor you.

Let’s just not talk about it. That will be better for you, right?

Do you think I would forget so easily? That I go about my day not reminded every second that I’m missing a little hand, a little voice, a little pair of footsteps through my home?
I don’t need you to remind me that my son died, you self-important piece of shit. I remember every single day without your “help”. Do you think you’re so special that you’re the only reason I haven’t thought about my son today, and that if you dared respect his memory by acknowledging he was a part of my family, of my life, that he’s still here for me, that my whole world would fall apart the instant his name left your precious lips? Do you think I really give a flying fuck if you feel awkward standing in front of me knowing that I’m marred by death?

Excuse me if I don’t stop and give you a hug.
Excuse me if you’re offended by my anger.
Excuse me if I don’t run to pat you on the back because you’ve done something so offensive and hurtful that I don’t ever want to speak to you again and you’re embarrassed that I dared show my outrage over your insensitive remarks instead of being “polite” about it.

Get your head out of your ass, stop thinking about your self-righteous “intent” and own up to your fucking mistake. You hurt somebody. So apologize and learn.

You want to help me? You want to do the right thing? You want to make me feel better? Pull yourself together and think about every memorial, every made-for-TV movie, every tragic Oscar-winning performance and wonder why it is that so many are based on honouring our dead, talking about them, thinking about them, making something beautiful for them, watching their life, appreciating their moments and celebrating our love for them.

I don’t need you to walk on eggshells. I need you to treat me normally, treat me with respect, and treat me like a mother.

Next time you run into someone who says, “I have three children” and you only see two – ask.
They wanted you to know.
No mother ever wants to think someone forgot her child.

Fuck you and your “good intentions”.




  • Anonymous says:

    Who Was This About?

    Who was this about? What did they do?

  • Anonymous says:

    I wish I had the courage to say this to those people who ‘don’t want to make me sad’… When did it become about THEM??? Even CLOSE friends… Thank you for writing this! Thank you for having the courage to put it out there! I’m going to ‘like’ it on FB and I bet not many people will take the time to read it. But, I couldn’t give a shit anymore! I have found friends that WANT to hear about my beautiful Lia 🙂

    Heidi, mother to Lia Sauls Thomson

  • because 225 comments isn’t enough : )

    Thank you for this. One of my girlfriends posted it on Facebook, and I plan to share it as well. I lost my daughter Valentina 6 months ago, she was stillborn at 39 weeks. Your post really resonates with me of course… I just started a new job this week, and I’m struggling hard with this very topic- how to let my dozens of new colleagues know its ok to talk about my daughter. I mean shit, they obviously feel like its ok to bore me to tears with stories about their living kids. ; ) Sigh. <3 Thank you.

  • Anonymous says:

    It makes me sad that even many of those closest to me won’t acknowledge my daughter unless I bring her up first, and even then they try to avoid it. My heart breaks all over again, I feel like I have to prove that she existed but I know that if I do they’ll look at me like I’ve lost my mind and are just not “getting over it”. It’s been two years and I don’t think I’ve yet to hear my parents call my daughter by her name. To them she’s “the last time you were pregnant”, even though she made it to almost 7 months gestation before being stillborn. My closest friends only acknowledge her when I specifically talk about her, but even then they avoid it most of the time. I wish they’d realize that only serves to make the pain worse, rather than better.


  • Anonymous says:



  • Anonymous says:

    Thank you for sharing your perspecitive on this. I appreciate the bluntness because when I am pissed and hurt, I am the same way.

    I have been incredibly lucky (and yes, it is luck, that’s it) to have not yet lost a child. I have a couple of friends who have and this will help me be a better friend.

    Thank you.

  • Anonymous says:

    love it!

    We just lost our son at 34wks,4days. and he was delivered still at 35weeks. i am going thru this same feeling on my own right now, and you couldnt have put it better!!
    Thank you, this has made me see that im not the only one fed up with ppl saying dumb things and expecting me to shove it under the rug and move on. i have been told several times that i should be over it by now and that i am draggin it out too much and dwelling on something that i will never get back. and people tell me that i am just cory (my 2yr old’s) son, but NO, i am cory and coles mom. i am the mother of two. i have two boys.
    i have also been told not to post his pics on my own facebook page…. but why not?? he is my son. why should i have to hide his pictures from someone who dont want to see them or thinks they r gross? i dont want to see the LIVE babys they have that they call “precious ANGELS” but they dont hide them. to call a LIVE baby and ANGEL is just wrong. my son is an angel, not your live baby. why do i have to see their pics if i aint aloud to show mine? that just isnt fair.
    I am doing all of this without counseling. and i think im doing a pretty damn good job. i have bad days, but i have ok days too. but for someone to tell me that i should be over it by now, HAHA! its only been 2months. and even in 10yrs i wont be over it.
    when you lose a friend, mother, father, or other relative-you are losing your PAST!
    when you lose your infant, you lose your FUTURE!!!

    • admin says:

      Re: love it!

      Good for you. Tomorrow would be my son’s 5th birthday, and it still hurts.

      Can I ask where you came in from? I’ve had a lot of traffic on this entry in the last week and I’ve been curious where it’s all coming from…

      • Anonymous says:

        Re: love it!

        another angel mom i had met posted a comment to it on someone elses wall on fb and her comment made me want to read it, so i followed the link here.

        • admin says:

          Re: love it!

          Thank you! A lot of people are coming in off Facebook; I guess the link is being passed around. 🙂 I’m glad it’s getting positive exposure and that it’s helpful for other grieving moms. When I wrote it I had no idea it would become this popular!

  • Anonymous says:

    I can’t express how much of this hit exactly on the mark for me. THIS IS HOW I FEEL!! I have 2 children, a Son Kaleb (SIDS 07) and Peyton, alive and well! Thank you for saying what some of us can’t or just don’t!!! Bless your heart! Our angels are playing together! Thank you again!

  • Anonymous says:

    I commend you

    Any way that we are able to express ourselves when trying to get it through people’s minds about this TABOO but REAL subject is sooo worth it. YOu are strong, very well spoken and I am with you,…IF IT OFFENDS YOU…than poor you. WOOT WOOT!

    • Anonymous says:

      Re: I commend you

      too…I was told many times that they loved me and couldn’t grieve over my child who was born perfectly STILL at 38 weeks. And then yet go on an boo hoo and grieve over someone’s miscarriages. And I just suffered another one and it was the same…don’t feel bad for me…WHATEVER ya want to do… I am sooo over it and I am sooo OVER YOU! Fakeness is not my ideal thing here..YOU need to remember that we are a part of you and that we hurt just like the other person. WE had it happen FIRST and also. Get up off your “CHRISTIAN Wanna Be but NOT” role ya play and then open your eyes to us! Too late…you have hurt me through and through…SOOOO DONE!!!!

      Sorry…venting too. WHew.

  • Anonymous says:

    I’m blown away & hurt. No, not by you, not at all. Hurt by all the memories that came flooding back of family & friends acting as though my Isaac & Hannah didn’t exist. That they still don’t. Yes, they died but they live forever through me. They will never be apart from my heart & therefore I think of them EVERY SINGLE DAY & I often feel as though I’m not supposed to talk about them anymore. I’m supposed to have “moved on” especially now that I have their new little sister. Shouldn’t I feel better now?? Why do I still have pics up & light a candle on October 15th? What’s MY PROBLEM??
    Well, my problem is I am a mother of 6 & only 4 walk the earth with me & I am incomplete. I am breathing yet a part of me is dead & if that makes “you” feel uncomfortable & awkward that’s just too bad.

  • Anonymous says:

    From the bottom of my heart!

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You are wonderful, amazing, and so very very right! I love you and I don’t even know you. This is my first time here on your blog, but it will not be my last. I will be following from now on. You are so awesome for writing this!!!

    Please feel free to check out my blog: http://www.wyattswhisper.blogspot.com

    Much love, Megan (Wyatt’s Mommie)

  • Anonymous says:

    Well said. This is exactly the things om going through, right now, with my own family! Thanks you for this. I will be emailing it to them… Hopefully they get the picture and understand. 🙂

  • Anonymous says:

    My little brother

    My mom’s second baby was stillborn. He was two years younger than me and two years older than my other brother, but his death left more than just a 4 year gap between my youngest brother and I. For years I wondered who he would have been and how I would have loved him. Would he have been dark-haired like me, or fair like his little brother? Would he have been quiet and thoughtful, or friendly and outgoing? So I know what you mean – how it feels to miss someone you never knew. And I admire your strength for refusing to forget.

  • Anonymous says:

    hiya i do not have a livejournal but a friend of mine told me about yours. im 22 and had a stillbirth after a complicated pregnancy when i was 18 i have never been a great communicator and suffer with mental illness…maybe this is why communicating is hard for me…. anyway all of my feelings i have never been able to verbalise you have nailed in your journal entry. its helped. thank you.

    my email is mollylollypop@yahoo.com

    Molly x

  • Anonymous says:

    I was linked to your journal from a knitting blog regarding a totally different subject. I read more entries to learn more about you. I cried while reading this entry, and read earlier entries to see where this was coming from. I was saddened to see your response when asked if you would send this to your mother-in-law. You see I am in her shoes. My wonderful ex-daughter-in-law carried my granddaughter 39 weeks. Her name is Cambria and her birthday is Dec 6 2005. She was beautiful when she was born. I have a picture that sits on my dresser and another in my Bible. I miss her deeply. We have all grieved her loss and the following divorce also. We have all been angry. We will never forget Cambria, even though we don’t talk about her often. Try not to be so hard on your mother-in-law as I am sure she is carrying her own grief. I also miscarried my first child at 7 weeks. I did not want the world to know and have carried that with me quietly. With all that said, your journal is a productive way to vent, please be careful with the words that come out of your mouth as they can not be taken back and can not be forgotten by those that hear them. Jericho will always be remembered even if he is not mentioned. These are just my thoughts and not meant to be hurtful.

    • admin says:

      I did not say I would send this to her; and I have not. She received a torn out calendar, something others have expressed they wish they could have done… but didn’t have the “guts”. With hope it will result in a conversation that will allow me the space to say how much she’s hurt me, and her the space to say that she DOES remember him.

      This entry was a vent, a vent on my space: my journal. It also was not directed at my mother in law (who doesn’t use the internet, fwiw), nor anyone in particular – it is an explosion after years and years of carrying grief, anger and hurt from inappropriate, uncaring and disrespectful attitudes toward me and my son.

      I did not miscarry my son at seven weeks – I have had many, many miscarriages and they were a different kind of grief. To be honest, those were private “grief” because they felt more personal.
      My son was not stillborn.
      My son was carried through my pregnancy, expected and loved by all. He was also born alive: he moved, he breathed, he lived … and then he was dead. He was dead before I ever saw him live due to medical negligence.

      I’m sure my MIL has some grief. And with that in mind, the way she “handled” it by carefully and purposefully writing out all of our children’s birthdays except him because she may feel uncomfortable is not an act of respect: it’s selfish.
      Even my father, who rarely mentions my son, and is uncomfortable with death, always lets me know in little ways that he remembers him when I’m hurting.

      With all due respect, it’s a little offensive that you’d come to someone’s personal journal where they’ve taken the opportunity to vent therapeutically at no one in particular and warn them not to after you take it personally when drawing parallels to your own life. Perhaps thinking that your ex-daughter in law may have been hurting when you didn’t talk with her enough when she was grieving…
      I’m sorry you took this personally: but it wasn’t about you. Or your grief. Or your daughter in law’s grief. Nor about any one person in my life.

      Feel free to keep reading; but do not come by suggest censorship, nor to “warn” me about what or how I’ve been writing for the least ten years.

  • chibent says:

    Thank you. Like some other commenters, I haven’t experienced that type of loss, so I had no idea how to respond.

    Everything you’ve said makes a lot of sense. Thank you again.

  • gardenmama says:

    Note: I’m going to use an analogy, but that’s not to equate one thing with the other. I don’t have any direct experience with someone who has lost a child.

    I have a friend who is going through a divorce. Her husband had an affair and wanted a divorce. I am supporting her through this. She is bitter and angry and grieving the death of her marriage. We talk on the phone every day, usually for at least an hour. I listen. It has been a year and three months.

    Yes, this happened to her. Yes, it sucks. No, ignoring it will not make it go away. But, being bitter and angry will not help her move past it either. Each day I try to console and conjole her and get her to move past it. There is a definite difference between sweeping something under the rug and letting someone lay down under the rug with their grief and not get out.

    How do you know when to/not to bring up a difficult subject like the loss of a child? Would you want random people who only know you from your journal to come up and start a conversation with the subject of Jericho?

    Yes, I can see that you will always celebrate his birthday and there will be certain times that remind you more of him and make you think of him, and you want the outside world to acknowledge his existence that way. And because of your journal, you’ll always have people who light a candle for him on Nov 1st and share your thoughts of him. But do you want to talk about it with strangers every day?

    I think it’s great that your journal reaches so many people and you have this opportunity to educate people about how to deal with someone else’s grief. Death is a very superstitious subject, especially the death of a child.

    • admin says:

      First, for your friend:
      Being bitter and angry is part of grief, and a very important part of grief. Your opinion may be that she isn’t moving past it, but that’s not your judgment to make. On the other hand, if YOU can’t handle it? That’s cool, and that’s your right. Everyone has a limit… but that does not mean you have a position to reflect on whether or not she’s handling it.
      And to be honest: this is the way she’s working through it. A normal, healthy, natural part of grief: anger.
      On the other part, which is moderately offensive – who are you to “let” someone lay down under the rug and not get out? Do you have that sort of power? Or influence? How do you even know that’s happening merely because someone trusted you enough to break down or vent? I mean, is she contemplating suicide? Has she become an alcoholic? Other than talking through it with someone that she’s assumed she can trust, what make you think she’s “not handling it”?
      If your opinion of someone’s personal journey through grief is that they “aren’t handling it well” then maybe you could help by directing then to a competent therapist, and then make it clear that YOU are uncomfortable continuing on that subject. That way, you’re being both helpful and honest with your limits.

      As for the, “do you want to talk about it with strangers every day”. I’m going to respond to this the same way I responded to the other 5 people who asked variants of this question.

      Please re-read this section:
      “I don’t need you to walk on eggshells. I need you to treat me normally, treat me with respect, and treat me like a mother.
      Next time you run into someone who says, “I have three children” and you only see two – ask.
      They wanted you to know.

      Translation: Don’t be an ass. When someone brings up their kid, it’s okay to talk about their kid.
      Also, “you walking up to your friend on any random day and bringing [random subject] up regardless of how they’re feeling” =/= random acts of respect like saying “She’s had three kids” in passing.
      I’m advocating doing the latter, as a simple respectful gesture. In NO WAY am I advocating that you should walk up to random people on the street and force them to talk about [random grief subject]. I don’t understand how that is AT ALL implied here. In fact, the OPPOSITE is being said all the way through this: respect, respect, respect. Forcing someone to talk about something is not respect. Acknowledging their children (ALL OF THEM) is respect, and that’s what this was about.

      Also, for the record: I do talk about his death with strangers all the time. In the work I do I’m regularly asked if I had a child that died, and what his story was. I’m asked by nurses, midwives, mothers and fathers, doctors, and new attendees at our grief meetings.
      And it’s my prerogative to talk about it openly and honestly. Most people won’t have many chances to be asked about it, and therefore don’t get the chance to work through their anger, pain and grief by talking it out. So… when they need to they may do things like go out of their way to say, “I had three kids, not two” etc etc etc… in which case it’s nice to get some respect instead of weird awkwardness. Which is once again what this whole entry was about.

      • gardenmama says:

        To answer the last part first, I get what you are saying. Your whole entry is about dealing with the awkwardness of other people and the weird ways people deal with you. I understand not wanting to be treated like a pariah because you had a child who died. You didn’t touch on religion, but I’ll bet you’ve had a fair number of people who’ve responded with some variant of “he’s with god, so that makes it ok.” And that doesn’t make it any more ok (regardless of your beliefs) than the fact that you had another child after you lost a child.

        As for my friend, I’m not going to highjack your journal and talk about her divorce. Yes, she’s still in the anger stage of grieving. She is in denial that she’s still in the anger stage and isn’t moving past it. There is no time limit, but she is giving off warning signs (drinking and promiscuous behavior, and lashing out at her children) that have led me to tell her numerous times that she should get herself back into counseling. I was glad to hear when I talked with her today that she is going back to a counselor. I have had some issues in my own marriage in the past year because of how much time I’ve devoted to being a supportive friend, but I wouldn’t walk away, even though I’ve had to set limits.

        As for letting someone lay down under the rug, I wasn’t talking about anyone specific. But, if I were to see a friend going through such intense grief that they couldn’t get out of bed day after day, I would feel inclined to intervene. I don’t know if that’s the right choice. You’ve suffered from depression and you know that no one can “lift you out of it.” But family/friends can urge you to get the professional help you need, be it a grief counseling group or medication.

        I think you bring up a really good point that no one grieves in exactly the same way. So there is no one “right” way to deal with grief, or to help a grieving person. Start with respect and go from there… I was just wanting to know if you thought it was respectful to be silent? Or if you thought the dead child needed to be brought up at every opportunity? I would think that’s a highly individual thing, and while you are perfectly comfortable discussing your grief with strangers, other people might not be. I would think that might vary on a daily basis, just depending on your mood and how you are doing that day. There might be days where it’s just really close to the surface, but you don’t want to talk about it. I guess I would want to be respectful by letting you bring it up yourself. But I can see where that then leads to awkwardness when the other party doesn’t know what to say. I’m very sorry for all the insensitive people who’ve said rude things to you. That is inexcusable.

        • admin says:

          (First off, sorry for being curt. That wasn’t about you. Your message was like a toned down version of a really rude thing I got a bit ago. Then someone wrote AN ENTIRE ENTRY about how “rude” it is to have a “bitchy freak out every time someone doesn’t mention your kid” which apparently I deserved because she said I wrote this about her… except I have no idea who she is).

          God thing: Yes, honestly that does get to me. I always smile and say thanks – always. But it is offensive. “Being with God”, even if I believed that, doesn’t suddenly make death have a silver lining. It feels a bit like a sucker punch.
          (FTR: this isn’t about the people who say polite things, but rather the people who actually make it sound like it’s a GOOD THING that he died because now he gets to ride rollercoasters in heaven, or something).

          Your friend: It does sound like shes having a difficult time. Drastic personality changes and risk-taking behavior are two red flags for serious depression. If you want to be a supportive friend, intervening can take many different paths… like you said, trying to pull someone out by their wrists will never work. No one’s going to come out of depression if they’re carried out – they HAVE to find their own way out. But you can support. Counseling is definitely a good, strong thing: most importantly finding a counselor that really clicks with you. Lots of people will stay with a counselor they don’t like, or just doesn’t quite fit, because they’re afraid to search for others (or don’t want to offend that therapist). In reality: the BEST match is one that just blows you away with how great they are. Go for that one!

          Last part:
          “Start with respect and go from there… I was just wanting to know if you thought it was respectful to be silent? Or if you thought the dead child needed to be brought up at every opportunity? I would think that’s a highly individual thing, and while you are perfectly comfortable discussing your grief with strangers, other people might not be. I would think that might vary on a daily basis, just depending on your mood and how you are doing that day.”
          Like I said, by no means am I advocating following someone around and demanding they talk about [x event/person] every day. That’s not respectful at all. Just… don’t treat them like they’re diseased and the very mention of the topic will cause some sort of world-shattering explosion. Stop walking on eggshells.

          For instance: LOTS of people are curious and want to ask – so do it! 99.9% of people appreciate that. Those that don’t will say honestly, “I don’t feel like talking about it right now” and you can say, “Okay, thanks for letting me know” and then change the subject. I mean, if you lived your life scared to death that someone might say, “Meh, I don’t feel like talking about that right now”… then what the hell, man?
          You don’t need to say, “Hi I haven’t seen you all day and how’s that dead baby thing going?” every 24 hours. But if someone’s grieving and you, being the polite and respectful, caring, wonderful friend you are have noticed that your buddy looks down…. ask them if they’re doing okay today. they may give you the standard, “Oh yeah I’m cool” but you can give a respectful nudge by saying something like, “This friend I know lost her son and she was saying that the first six weeks were numb, but after that is when a wave of it really hit…”. Either she’ll just nod and move away from th subject, or start talking. Things like that are a very gentle way of testing the waters to see if someone needs to talk. Don’t just rely on the standard greeting of, “How are you?” “Fine”. I guarantee no one is going to answer that with, “Today was really hard, let me tell you about it…” they know that they’re being treated like they are Typhoid Mary by 97% of the population… and “no one wants to hear that shit”, so they’re not going to talk even if they need to unless someone shows they want to hear it.

  • Anonymous says:

    Amen sister. I totally agree with you. Fuck them all if they don’t want to talk about my son. He was a part of me for 9 months then for 17 beautiful days he was with us. On the 18 day he died. He died of whooping cough so quickly no one knew how bad it was. I *want* to talk about him. I *want* to remember him. So does my family. I talk about my other kids and their pregnancies why can’t I talk about him.

    Oh and just for the record I DO talk about him!! And if anyone ask how many children I have I include him, I say 5.

  • Thank you!

    This is beautifully written and I will remember this. Thank you for helping us non-mothers understand and sharing your life with us.

  • bluealoe says:

    I really can’t add much to what’s already been said, but I wanted to say thank you for opening this discussion. It’s been incredibly refreshing to be able to talk about grief openly and honestly with others who have experienced the same thing, whether it be a child, a parent, a sibling, a spouse, or even a pet. As strange as it sounds, it’s like a breath of fresh air.

  • Anonymous says:


    *SIGH* FINALLY someone with the balls to say what I think! I LOVE YOU!!! I’m posting to my facebook page

    In memory of our son
    Stanford Jacob
    3-23-06 16.3wk Pprom

  • Anonymous says:

    Thank you

    Thank you … I will be sharing this

  • Thank You. Thank you for posting what I have always been made to feel I shouldn’t/couldn’t.
    My loss isn’t the same as yours – I lost our baby at only 8wks gestation but had also had dreams of the first babble, crawling, steps, etc. What they would want to be when they grow up and who they would be.
    My family acts like I am nothing short of psychotic when I remember my child on the day I lost him and on the day he SHOULD have been here. They really thought I lost my marbles when a year later I signed our Christmas cards and acknowledged him. “Why haven’t you moved on.” While I dont cry daily – I think of what he would be doing and I acknowledge that he was REAL. And it’s okay to acknowledge him. **sigh**
    Again- thanks for posting this.

  • maylea_moon says:

    i’m so glad you wrote this. like other people have said, it explains a lot to those of us who have no idea. i think of you and Jericho EVERY YEAR around the first of November and i always think, should i say something? would she be upset if i sent a card?

    now i feel like a total ass but i have an answer. i should have just asked you and now i feel like a butthole that i never have and i’m sorry :/

    • admin says:

      I’ve never expected anything from the people around me, please don’t worry. 🙂 The point of this wasn’t to force people to start falling all over me in sympathy, but rather just a rant over those who have really hurt my feelings.
      I expect recognition from my best friends, and from my family – I don’t expect it from anyone else because they aren’t “here” in the midst, you know?

  • heh

    This isn’t about death, at all, but it reminded me of this post.

    As you know, I’m going through the break up of hell right now. My sister came up to me the other night and told me that Dad had taken her aside and said, “It’s best that we do not mention Matt’s name at all around Pamela from here on out. Just don’t bring him up.” Like I’ve forgotten all about the fact that my six and a half year relationship with my son’s father just ended, and if he brings it up, I’ll fall into an hysterical fit on the floor. I laughed out loud through my tears. Geez people. Get a grip.

    Not only does this society suck at death, we suck at dealing with any and all emotional topics. People just suck.

    • admin says:

      omgwtfbbq. He’s your SON’S FATHER. Like… okay, breakups do happen, you know? And it sucks hard. And it hurts bad. And then we get on with life, become better and more stable people and your kid continues to see BOTH his parents and have a relationship with them. What the HELL would be the point of never mentioning his father again?

      • lol I know, right? I don’t know what Dad was thinking.

        I was semi-avoiding him Wednesay because I was fully expecting him to lecture me about filing for child support right away and getting other financial matters worked out (he’s a trained accountant so always seems preoccupied with the money aspect of things, and I just wasn’t up for that earlier in the week.) So when I found out that his new plan was to just pretend like Matt didn’t exist, I was rather amused.

        Matt and I have talked a lot about Zack, and of course he wants and will have a role in Zack’s life. I wouldn’t have it any other way, and it doesn’t matter what happens with me in the future–nobody will ever be Zack’s Daddy but Matt. And even if there were no Zack, Matt and I have been in love for a long time. I would never be able to just cut him out of my life entirely.

        My dad is a strange character sometimes.

  • Hi, I’ve been reading your blog for a while now but I’ve never commented before.

    I just wanted to thank you for this post. A friend of mine recently lost her baby at 25 weeks. I had no idea how to, or if I should talk to her about it. I will now.

    • another thing – my family went through a failed adoption several years ago. We drove across the country to get him, only to be told the birth mother had changed her mind. What you’ve written about fits that situation very well too.

      We don’t mention Sawyer in my family, and no one outside the family wanted to talk about it after the fact. It’s upsetting. He was a part of our lives even though we never met him. We talked about him, bought him clothes, put together a space for him.

      His birthday is coming up, and I want to thank you for giving me the strength to bring him up. It may not go over well, but I think he needs to be acknowledged in some way.

  • Anonymous says:

    Thank you so much. I’m blessed with friends and family who are okay with it when I talk about my losses (I have four living children, and lost another at 7 weeks, two at 12 weeks, and one at birth). But, I still run into that “I don’t want to REMIND you” crap sometimes. Anybody who really believes that I could ever forget, for even one second, that my four living children should have had siblings, is living in the Twilight Zone. I never, ever, ever forget. I never, ever, ever will.

    People don’t want to be uncomfortable. They don’t know what to say. They think “I’m sorry” is inadequate. But, the worst thing of all is silence. There are lots of things people can say that will hurt, and some will even piss me off – but nothing hurts like…nothing.

    I cried through your whole post. Thank you so much. I also have a “replacement child”, and she’s a blessing in every sense of the word. And, honestly – I do feel that she’s caused *SOME* healing…but losing a child isn’t something that can healed or cured. It never, ever, ever goes away.

  • Anonymous says:

    Thank you for posting this! As the mother of a baby daughter who died almost 5 years ago at 1 day old, this is exactly how I feel. I did have to apologize at my daughter’s funeral to a colleague of mine, whose baby had died several years before, because I had been too cowardly to go to her funeral or give him proper support for his loss. I didn’t get it then, and thought a card and donation and then never mentioning it was ok. It wasn’t. I was wrong and now I know better. I am circulating this, if it is ok with you, to other grieving moms I know.

    Thank you again.

  • daintycow says:

    Wow, I appreciate what you wrote so so much. Thank you.

    6 years ago my most favorite person in the whole world, my cousin Patrick was killed while he was running across the Pat Bay highway and struck by a car and when I am around his mother I bring him up all the time.

    I know that she knows he meant the world to me, but sometimes I will come away from our conversation thinking “wow, I was just crying my eyes out because of Patrick in front of his MOTHER” and I can’t help but wonder if I am being insensitive because the pain I feel towards his death can’t even compare to her pain, and here I am bringing him up over and over. I was conflicted over whether or not I should give her a painting I had painted for him on the 6 year anniversary of his death a couple of weeks ago, mainly because I have always been taught to not bring up touchy subjects…but now I’m happy I did decide to give her that painting 🙂

    Thank you again, this really helped me realize that even though I cannot even comprehend the pain my aunt feels every day about losing her son, I will continue to do everything I can to cherish his life, and the memory of him until the day I die, and now I feel more confident when I am doing this with his mother.

  • smellykaka says:

    On a not-exactly-related-but-not-exactly-not note, when a friend lost a son to cancer at 17 months, I was enormously pleased that the picture they used on the front of the funeral brochure thingy was one I’d taken of him.

  • jewe1z says:

    If the graphic photo you mentioned is the one I remember, it’s STILL creepy. Her photo screamed “LOOK AT THE PAIN IN THIS FACE! WE ARE VICTIMS! PITY US!” and that couple liked to fling around the term dead baby like a water balloon and use their loss as an excuse for everything. It was disgusting. You’re NOTHING like that and neither is your photo or your intention behind sharing it with people.

    I once knew a girl who carried a photo of her incredibly premature deformed stillborn around with her and showed people whenever the subject came up. You may disagree, but I still feel that was in BAD TASTE and fuck her for going out of her way to play her victim card and make everyone uncomfortable. I so badly wanted to tell her “You wanna walk around with a little black cloud of despair above your head all the time? That’s fantastic, but I don’t want to deal with your issues so don’t bring them into every conversation. k thanks.” Of course I never had the guts to say that because I’m not a calloused bitch and it’s such a touchy subject.

    I know what it feels like to hold an empty little shell of what could have been, but I don’t talk about it, ever. Few people even know, and I don’t want the ones who do to think I even think about it anymore. I don’t want it to be the white elephant in the room. I don’t want to infect other people with my black cloud of despair. In fact, I find it fascinating that I feel the exact opposite way as you on the subject.

    I’m not saying it’s right but people often try to bury their own pain or sweep it under the rug and they assume others would like to do the same. People grieve in different ways, and yours is the most balanced way. You confront your feelings, you use your writing as an outlet, and you seek help when needed. Most people don’t do that, myself included. I wish I could. I know I should. But remembering or talking about it too much after the initial grieving process is over tends to keep me from moving on. There are some things I can’t talk about at all without crying after 5, 10, or even 20 years…

    Rarely do LJ posts make me think or give me the overwhelming urge to respond anymore. This one did. I love that you wrote this.

    • admin says:

      Just wanted to say this quick ’cause I didn’t really have anything else to say in response to everything else except a nod.

      On the photo and some person: I actually have no idea who you’re talking about. The person I’m referencing doesn’t exist online anymore… and I knew them from about 9-10 years ago, on a different site entirely. 🙂

      • jewe1z says:

        A woman was removed from BN years ago as soon as I realized she was not currently bfing. It caused a huge dramafest because she’d apparently previously had a stillborn. I think that drama is what spawned the 24 hour comm lol!

        There was a closeup photo of the husband’s face as he was crying hysterically over the baby on their website. I remember all of us commenting on how far we’d shove the camera up someone’s ass if they attempted to take a closeup of our face in that moment.

        • admin says:

          I only kind of remember that…
          It seems kind of weird to say it on THIS ENTRY of all entries but I had something in the back of my mind to write about the ‘dead baby card’ and how there are those who throw it into EVERY argument and EVERY debate online no matter what the topic is like it’s some sort of ‘get out of jail free’ card. It’s using a tragedy for your own personal gain and it really, really, really gets under my skin.

  • Anonymous says:

    thank you

    I could have written your post a couple of years ago. Dam I was sick of making others comfortable while I was slowly dieing.
    I think my saving grace was this organization http://www.nowilaymedowntosleep.org/
    They took professional gorgeous photos of my son at the hospital which proved he was real. His photos are all over our house and when people come over they ask about that “missing child”. They are truely curious and my husband is always the first to step up and give them the whole story about him.
    I am so thankful for those photos. They help us heal and they help tell the world we have more than one child. I dont always have to tell people myself because the pictures can speak for me. Sometimes that is nice a relief from always having to make others comfortable. Instead they are curious on their own, which is good.

    • admin says:

      Re: thank you

      Thank you for saying this here.
      I’ve been a member of the organization since 2007, and I’m very grateful for the chance to give something to others I did not have… and I’m thankful it has helped so many.

  • Anonymous says:

    Wow. That’s so so true.

    Wow. You totally hit the nail on the head. I’m sorry for whatever’s happened lately that has brought this up. I remember and think about Jericho and your family a lot.

    Our babies deserve remembrance. I’m so glad I had a birthday memorial for Fiona.


  • hannahsarah says:

    I come from such a different culture. I was raised to whisper *cancer*, the “C” word, the Big C. It must not be spoken out loud. Same thing with infant deaths.

    To show any interest at all in a child’s death would be intrusive, morbid, sensationalist. It was considered very selfish to want to know what happened. Leave those poor people to mourn in peace! is all I ever heard.

    I have never been able to keep a pregnancy past 10 to 12 weeks, but I could get pregnant at the drop of a hat. I actually lost count of how many babies I’ve lost. At the time, my doctors all “assured” me that I hadn’t lost a real baby, it was just a defective lump of tissue that wouldn’t have survived anyway – so in other words there was nothing worthwhile to grieve over. My miscarriage was just my body’s way of taking out the garbage. After all, it happens to everybody, right? Just another bodily function, like going poop.

    So, on top of not being allowed to grieve, I get to feel like crap because my body produces defective trash instead of beautiful babies.

    When I meet people who have had stillborn, SIDS, miscarriages, or other traumatic events, I am so scared to say the wrong thing. It really isn’t about me wanting to protect myself from sad feelings. It’s because I have a very long history of saying the WRONG thing somehow. If there’s a way to screw up a verbal communication, I will find it. I have no confidence in myself to be appropriate, so I tend to memorize a few key phrases and bluff my way through.

    I’m sorry for your loss. May her memory be a comfort to you and your family. Let me know if you want to talk. – those are my survival phrases. I meant every bit of it, and 100x more, but I just know know where to go from there. I really wish I had a handbook for the proper things to say in all circumstances.

    Speaking of unfortunate comments, I am now the mother of my wonderful adopted daughter. We have a VERY open adoption, sometimes it feels more like a communal arrangement. We have worked things out for my daughter’s best interest, and she will always know how loved she is by all parties, and why we made the decisions we made.

    I just get so tired of hearing “What’s wrong with her, why did they give her away? Where’s her REAL mother? Do you know where her REAL dad is?” I could go on and on.

    Anyway, now that I’ve rambled off topic, feel free to friend me, and let me know if you ever want to talk more about adoption.

  • nursedekk says:

    Thanks for this Babs…you expressed so much that I have tried to express in the past but never quite got it passionate enough. I appreciate your total honesty, I find it hard to be that open when I’m angry…so thanks.

  • phoebebeast says:

    –A Simple Child,
    That lightly draws its breath,
    And feels its life in every limb,
    What should it know of death?

    I met a little cottage Girl:
    She was eight years old, she said;
    Her hair was thick with many a curl
    That clustered round her head.

    She had a rustic, woodland air,
    And she was wildly clad:
    Her eyes were fair, and very fair;
    –Her beauty made me glad.

    “Sisters and brothers, little Maid,
    How many may you be?”
    “How many? Seven in all,” she said
    And wondering looked at me.

    “And where are they? I pray you tell.”
    She answered, “Seven are we;
    And two of us at Conway dwell,
    And two are gone to sea.

    “Two of us in the church-yard lie,
    My sister and my brother;
    And, in the church-yard cottage, I
    Dwell near them with my mother.”

    “You say that two at Conway dwell,
    And two are gone to sea,
    Yet ye are seven!–I pray you tell,
    Sweet Maid, how this may be.”

    Then did the little Maid reply,
    “Seven boys and girls are we;
    Two of us in the church-yard lie,
    Beneath the church-yard tree.”

    “You run above, my little Maid,
    Your limbs they are alive;
    If two are in the church-yard laid,
    Then ye are only five.”

    “Their graves are green, they may be seen,”
    The little Maid replied,
    “Twelve steps or more from my mother’s door,
    And they are side by side.

    “My stockings there I often knit,
    My kerchief there I hem;
    And there upon the ground I sit,
    And sing a song to them.

    “And often after sun-set, Sir,
    When it is light and fair,
    I take my little porringer,
    And eat my supper there.

    “The first that died was sister Jane;
    In bed she moaning lay,
    Till God released her of her pain;
    And then she went away.

    “So in the church-yard she was laid;
    And, when the grass was dry,
    Together round her grave we played,
    My brother John and I.

    “And when the ground was white with snow,
    And I could run and slide,
    My brother John was forced to go,
    And he lies by her side.”

    “How many are you, then,” said I,
    “If they two are in heaven?”
    Quick was the little Maid’s reply,
    “O Master! we are seven.”

    “But they are dead; those two are dead!
    Their spirits are in heaven!”
    ‘Twas throwing words away; for still
    The little Maid would have her will,
    And said, “Nay, we are seven!”

  • wendytthomas says:

    Thank you for this. I never know how to react. I know a lady whose eldest died from cancer at age 12. She speaks of him often, we all know his name. It’s easier since he wasn’t in that limbo stage of being, for all intents and purposes, an external fetus. In her siggy pic she has a picture of her “six living kids.” There is no picture of him, but it’s very obvious from the way she projects her living kids that he is not far from her mind, and she wants to talk about him.

    My mother lost my older brother at 28 weeks. No idea why. However, she reacted very differently than you. She would not have gone to a support group. In fact, someone gave her a glass knick knack to remember him by, and she “accidentally” hit it one day while vacuuming, shattering it. She did not want a constant reminder. She goes years between mentioning him. Ira, was his name. I don’t know if she ever held him. I know they induced labor. But this was in 1976, so I don’t know that she would have been given the option of holding him. I’ve never asked. I was 10 before they even told me about him. And since then she’s mentioned him a half dozen times. I don’t know how often she thinks of him, but outwardly it’s not much. So I grew up with a very different way to deal with the dead baby elephant in the room. I don’t think either way is more or less valid than the other. People grieve differently. And those who come to your support groups aren’t going to be like my mother. They’re going to want to share, want the world to know. My mother seems very happy pushing him under the rug, going on with life. He was born in July and I was conceived in November. They got right on having sex and making another baby. Then another. I’ve only heard my father mention Ira twice. Once while we were near his unmarked grave at my grandparent’s funeral.

    I thank you for sharing this. When someone mentions “the other child,” I’ll feel far more comfortable with asking about them, knowing the parent wants to talk about it. They are real. They lived, even if it was never outside of the womb, or not for long. So much missed. But there are honestly women, like my mother, who would sooner just not talk about it, and remember the baby silently and alone.

    I hope you tell your MIL how you feel, even if you do tone it down a hair. 🙂 She needs to know. Because she may think you’re like my mother (which shows what she wants to believe, because obviously you’re so NOT).

    HUGS Thank you so much for sharing.

  • detsher77 says:

    I just wanted to say that you are very very right. I worked for a short time as a chaplain for NICU – a part of the bereavement program. When I started, I couldn’t understand at all why we did the things we did. It was common practice to take the remains and dress the child in baby clothes, put a little bear next to him or her, and take pictures. We’d make impressions of feet, hands, even faces if they were small enough. All of the clothes and additional things along with pictures were put into a memory box for the parents to take home. This baffled me for weeks, I thought, I would never want those things if it happened to me. Then I met the parents, I saw their lost children, and I was told by my mentor that psychologists discovered that having a tangible memory helped the grieving process. After months of working with the program, a major concept I took away was that the hospitals understand, the rest of the world doesn’t. I would see some of these women again for psych consults after they had returned home and no one would acknowledge their pain very long, they just wanted to move on because THEY were confused as how to act. We need more advocates like you to make people understand exactly what you’ve said here because I don’t believe the general public has a clue. I’m so sorry that you’ve had to deal with this, but I’m so proud to know of someone who is so strong that they can make all of this public. Thank you.

  • cattarina says:

    Yes. Yes. Yes.

    I wish I could have read this 29 years ago when my first son died of SIDS. I’m not close of anyone from that time in my life, and often feel like I alone had the experience of birthing him, loving him, and then the horror and trauma of his death. I have been corrected, if you can imagine, CORRECTED – when I say I have 4 children…corrected by “No you don’t, you have three” as if I’ve suddenly become senile or something. My response is “NO, I have 4. Just because you weren’t there, doesn’t mean he wasn’t”

  • you don’t know me and I wont pretend I know you, I’ve read your LJ here off and on since Xan was born and I have often shared your entries with friends and family as you frequently put things into words that I couldn’t. This really resonated with me as I read it this morning. Especially so because January is a very rough month for me and this year more than ever I am having a terrible time dealing with my losses and pain. So to add to the 150+ comments you’ve already received I figured for a change I’d thank you for your words instead of just raving to those close to me that “this chick babyslime on LJ has yet again said something that resonated so strongly with me, she’s really quite amazing”. You are quite amazing and your journalling could easily be published into some fantastic literature on love, life, family, and grief. I’m sure you hear it on a weekly (if not daily) basis but, I find it so brave and impressive that you share so much of your life so publicly. Thank you, for allowing people like me to lurk on your journal for years and soak in so much of your eloquence.

  • your entries often help me to *feel* all the joy that i have in my life, how to cherish every instant, even when its poop covered or what have you. (because i get lost in my internal bs) thank you for that, and for giving a voice to loss, to let people know how irritating it is to pussyfoot, how hurtful inaction can be.
    this may be off subject, i’ve been doing allot of adoption research and have learned that first mothers feel a tremendous loss, often adopted children do as well, and they have to deal with people being dumbass about it (i’m no longer going to adopt, i’m going to support afceco).
    loss is loss.
    also-the only thing that has kept me from sending your household boxes of Theo brand chocolate on Jericho’s b day (because i remember and think of him, you, your family) is i don’t want to be your stalker(srsly)-and i know it would mean more if the people who are actually in your life to be active in honoring him.

    • admin says:

      (Just a note about your intent with that: those kind of nice gestures are always nice. After he died I did receive a lot of gifts, including money to help us fund our move… which helped us SO IMMENSELY I can’t even begin to thank all those who contributed everything from $5 to $100. The kinds of things that are stalker-y are the truly STALKER like things. The trying to call my house without permission, etc. Plus, I do sort of “know” you now so you’ve broken that barrier. 😉 )

      And thank you for this. And the note about adoption. We have also been immersing ourselves in research about adoption and have learned a lot about the topic, loss, displacement, and the very real traumatic effects that everyone seems to sweep under the rug in a blaze of hero-worship.

  • emchelle says:

    Thank you. Just, THANK YOU. I am one of those emotionally bound people that just does. not. know what to do with or how to respond to grief. And I truly and deeply appreciate being reminded to get the hell over myself and work on it.

  • sunshyn689 says:

    I remember the first time my then-boyfriend (now husband) mentioned that he was not his parent’s first child, and the “oh god, how do I respond to that” feeling. I asked him a little bit, but other than a few basics (heart defect, they think due to dad’s exposure to agent orange) he didn’t really have much to say about it (older brother had died before hubby had been born), but I remember him saying to me “don’t say anything to mom about it. If she decides to say something to you, that’s one thing, but she doesn’t talk about it much” and at 19, having only been dating him a few months, I wasn’t going to argue that at all. I also remember feeling almost honored 6 months later when she turned to me one morning and said “I don’t know if Brian ever told you about Rick” and proceeded to tell me pretty much the same things that hubby had told me, as if she wasn’t really sure that I was going to make it as part of the family as of yet, but she wanted me to know that there had been another son, who she had carried and loved with all of her heart. She would mention him every once in a while in passing, but never in front of FIL.
    When I got pregnant last December, she started telling me more and more about him, and how she had known something was wrong, but couldn’t find a doctor to listen to her, and little things about his appearance and the way he smelled, how it had broken her heart when he had died. Still all out of hearing of my FIL.
    When Lil man was born, he came out purple. He had both arms wrapped around his neck, and had decided to start breathing just a second or two too soon, so his lungs were full of amniotic fluid. They were able to suction him quickly, and within 10 minutes his Apgar was at 9, but they still had to take him to special care for a little while. Hubby apparently popped into the waiting room, where all 4 of our parents were waiting to hear that they could come and see him, and instead told them the news that they were taking him to special care. My father told me later that my FIL went into a corner, wrapped his arms around himself and sobbed for 20 minutes. That really drove home to me that while talking to him about it would not be welcome (FIL is very closed off about a lot of things-still suffering from untreated PTSD from Vietnam) that he has never stopped hurting over the loss of his first child, even 36 years later.
    Your post has also made me realize that I need to reach out to a cousin who lost a baby at 24 weeks about a month ago. Let her know that I think about her often and wonder how she’s doing with everything. So, for that, I thank you.


    I’m going to stop worrying about others feelings whenever I wanted to talk about Violette. I have four kids. I’m a grieving mother, but I’m not going to feel some sort of shame over it anymore.


  • damiarayne says:

    I remember when you lost Jericho. I didn’t know what to say except sorry.

    I remember later you talking about acknowledging the person, the child lost, and to ask, to let the mother decide if she wants to talk about it, not to tip toe around her etc. When my cousin lost her 2 month old son Koen 2 years later, your words were invaluable to me. I stood up to family and friends who were afraid to go near my cousin, afraid to bring their kids around her. I told them not to hide, and to ask about Koen, to let my cousin decide if she wanted kids around, to ask!

    I had great conversations with her about her son, and looked at pictures and laughed and cried. Sure at first it was a bit awkward t break the norm and not sweep it under the rug. But it was good for both her and I.

  • Anonymous says:


    My parents had a child who died before I was born. This event was never discussed. My mother suffered tremendously, she never was able to grieve this properly. It destroyed her. You are so right about the importance of talking about the dead child.

  • Anonymous says:

    Hi Heather. As someone who has experienced a still birth (my two girls are ages 7 & 2 – I lost a babe at term in between) I think I fall into that small group of people who would rather not talk about it. I do say I only have two children, very few people know about the stillbirth that we endured. I have an album of pictures, and we do celebrate his birthday, but I would much rather not be reminded on a daily basis by discussing what I went through. I’m not sure why I feel compelled to post this (I haven’t read through all the comments yet) and my intention is not to enrage you, but rather to share that being reminded and prodded out my own loss makes me as angry and traumatized as you do by having yours silenced. I’ve read your blog forever and a day (I’m on MDC) and am usually ninety-nine percent in sync with you on everything you discuss about Jericho… but this is one issue where I guess I’m the odd one out. (I don’t have a livejournal, but my username on MDC is Ceinwen)

  • j_lew says:

    my Grandmother lost a son in 1940. She never stopped talking about him till her death in 2004.She never let it be swept under the carpet. We all talked about him.

  • spoofed says:

    It breaks my heart that no one ever acknowledges the baby that my mother lost before me, the baby she is grieving as much now as she was when it happened, almost 30 years ago. Her love for that child and the pain she feels has always been totally ignored by everyone, and I’ve never understood why.

    I think of Jericho often.

  • I hope this comment comes out right and with the true intention behind it because the last thing I want to do is upset you or make you feel awkward and I’ve been thinking about how to say this since your post about Curtis’s mother and the calendar.

    Even before I found your journal through DITL and I started reading you, I was a fan of the name Jericho. I don’t remember where I first heard it, but I’ve always liked it. It was always on the back burner of my mind as a name I would one day like to use.

    After reading Jericho’s story, it’s hard for me to picture that name as anyone else BUT him. He didn’t live for very long, he may not have been born with everything in the working order that it was supposed to be, but he was here. He made his stamp on this earth. He is Heather and Curtis’s son and Tempest and Xan’s brother. When I think of Jericho I think of you and Curtis and the potential life that might have been. I think of the dark haired baby boy that I know you miss. As much as I still love the name, it would feel almost … I guess it would just feel wrong to ever use it. It belongs to him and to his beautiful little soul.

    On another note, I couldn’t agree with this post more. I’ve lost so many people over the course of my life. Most recently, and the most devastating, was my gran. She went suddenly and it was painful. It’ll be two years this March and I can’t fucking believe it. I cannot believe it’s been that long. Her wake and funeral were the hardest for me out of every single one I’ve been to and I’ve been to a lot. I can’t remember how the topic came up, but we were talking about it over dinner a few weeks ago with a friend and after a few moments, my mom grabbed my hand and silenced me with a look because the friend was growing uncomfortable. Well .. fuck that. It’s a fact of life. It’s a fact of my life. I should be able to talk about it, just like you should be able to talk about Jericho, without worrying about how other people are going to react. I’m sorry it’s tough and I’m sorry it’s unpleasant, but that’s LIFE. Life is messy and tough and unpleasant and if you don’t like that, well tough fucking shit. You shouldn’t get to not like it. You shouldn’t get to pull the covers over your head. Live with the reality. Not everything is sunshine and roses. How nice for you to run away from it and pretend it doesn’t exist. It doesn’t make it hurt any less for those of us who were left behind.

    • gen_here says:

      After reading Jericho’s story, it’s hard for me to picture that name as anyone else BUT him.

      I know! I don’t remember where I was reading the other day, but someone was talking about a new baby girl named Jericho. My first thought was, “That’s not a girl’s name… that’s a boy’s name… *A* boy’s name… Heather’s son.”

      He really has left a mark on so many people!

  • When I tell people that I have two brothers, I want them to ask and I want them to know.

    • admin says:

      Yes. This, exactly.

      It’s about respecting the needs of someone grieving, whatever they may be.

    • smellykaka says:

      I’ve just realised something. It puzzled me that nobody who knows the family ever asks about my sister when I mention her, and it’s just occurred to me that they’re probably thinking she died and are too nervous to bring it up.

      In actual fact, she was given up for adoption for my mother years before I was born, and I didn’t know she existed until I was 15. We’ve since met on several occasions, although with her living in Australia it doesn’t happen all that often these days.

  • I’ve never met you, but I remember your son. I have recommended your blog to many people as well.

    This post just spawned a pretty intense conversation with my roommate. Today (yesterday, the 4th, but I haven’t been to sleep yet) was my mother’s birthday. She passed away 3 years ago. My father, sister, and I make a point to talk about her and never act like she wasn’t there. Hell, we even talk out loud to her in the company of each other. My father’s gf HATES it. She can’t stand the thought of my father still loving my mother, still thinking about her. She pretends my mom doesn’t and didn’t exist. Just another reason why my sister and I dislike my father’s GF.

    Thank you so so much for sharing this.

  • metalgypsy says:

    i shared this on my FB. hope that’s ok.

  • Anonymous says:

    While I do love this post – it was written beautifully and emotes so hardcore, and I agree with it for the most part… I just want to say that everyone is different. I want desperately for my mother to talk to me about my twin, who was lost. I have always felt this little hole in me even before my mom told me about her when I was a young teenager. But she just shuts down. One time she even went so far as to tell me, “I lied to you. You didn’t really have a twin, so stop asking me about her.” I finally stopped asking because I realized it was too painful for her, and while it seemed to me like it would be good for her to talk about the loss – like so many here have talked about – it’s just not that way for her. She can’t handle it, even if it means I will never get to know about the hole inside me that I know is from missing my sister.
    She won’t talk about another miscarriage she had, either. I only know about this miscarriage because when people rudely ask “why are there so many years between your only two kids, are they from different marriages?” (got that question a lot) one time she snapped back, “no it’s because the kid that was supposed to be between them [died].” The bracketed “died” was actually a graphic description of a miscarriage occurring. I was so proud of her for saying that (I get so sick of people assuming that because my brother and I are far apart, obviously some scandal must be involved), but then sad again when she wouldn’t tell me about my yet another sibling.

    But that is the way she is, and I don’t want to hurt her further. Maybe she’ll tell me one day but for now, even so many years after it happened, she just can’t talk about it. And I’m not going to push because my grief for missing something I’ve never had is just a tiny fraction of what she experiences every day, and it would be selfish of me to force her.

    I guess my point is, while many people do want to honour the memories and talk about their lost loved ones, I wouldn’t want to assume everyone is that way, so let’s dive right into asking some hugely personal questions… And I’ve run into people like my mother, who don’t want to talk about their stories. I find that saying something along the lines of, “I’d love to hear about him/her if you want to share” works pretty well, because if they want to share, you’ve given them that option, but if they don’t, you aren’t being pushy, and at the same time have said something that means you care even if they don’t want to take you up on it. And it’s not as awkward and pointless as “gee, I’m sorry.”

    But god, I can’t believe some of the things people have said to you and many commenters. Sheesh people can be cruel. And ignorance is not an excuse for many of these stories…

    Anyway, I love your post, even if I don’t 100% agree with it being the same for all people. It’s just … the way it is written is so great, man, I think if you were to write an essay about how much fun eating kittens is and wrote it in this way I think we’d all love it…

    • admin says:

      I do want to say right off the bat that you’re the fourth person to say someting along these lines and I want to clarify that in no way was I advocating forcing people to talk about something – anything – no matter how ‘happy’ or ‘sad’ or whatever it is. That’s just not cool.
      What I’m talking about here is the act of sweeping grief under the rug, and how wrong that is. And never giving people space to grieve or acknowledge their babies when THEY need to.

      And I want to make that part really, really neon sign clear.

      (Don’t mistake: I’m not offended, I just want to make sure).

      • Anonymous says:

        Okay yeah I get that. I wasn’t trying to accuse you of being forceful or whatever anyway, but I guess from the huge blast of emotion in the post I might have missed some stuff and I wasn’t under the impression that you wanted to force anything, but that someone could get the impression that this was the absolute right answer for *everyone* that has had a similar situation, and I just wanted to point out that not everyone deals with stuff in the same way.

        Though I kind of wish they did, cuz maybe people wouldn’t be so damned confused and awkward about it all the time. Plus then I’d get to talk about my siblings.

        Strange subject jump: I know you get requests for photography all the time but would you consider a request for a small piece of writing? Paid of course.

    • smellykaka says:

      A friend of mine lost her mother to cancer a few years ago and every time the anniversary is coming up she gets rather weepy as you might expect. I let her know at the time that I remember what the anniversary is (I cheat and have it in my calendar so I can’t forget) but otherwise leave it at that as she’s not ready to talk about her mum yet. I’m hoping she will some day, as her mum died before I knew the family very well and I never met her.

  • metalgypsy says:

    maybe i’m weird…

    i didn’t read the other comments, but i seem to spend a lot of time thinking about dead babies, perhaps due to an abortion i had as a teenager, my sisters miscarriages, and my fears thru every step of my almost 2 year olds life. if anything happened to him at any point before now, and now, i would want my space to grieve- i would want to cry and wail and mourn and talk and share memories and feelings and write and make art and post photos of him all over the house and write a zine and be involved in some kind of grieving group. i would not want to be silenced, i would want to grieve and live in the joy of my child’s brief life. i would love to hear women talk and remember about their dead babies, every detail of what it felt like. i love your posts when you talk about your grief. i don’t know what- i have just always felt very drawn to grief, not in a morbid way, but in a beautiful way. i don’t know how to explain. i would love to hear everything you ever wanted to say about what it was like to have Jerico (sp?) come into this world, and leave so soon.

  • arlen_esq says:

    I think you have just given me the courage to ask my sister about the child she lost. I don’t see her that often, but I happened to be there, the night she and her husband went to the hospital, and I watched her oldest child while they were gone. And we’ve never spoken of it again.

    I’m not very close with my sister, but I’m trying to be closer…and for years, I’ve wondered but never asked about the Baby Maya my sister, her husband, and her kids pray for every night. I’ve been afraid to ask. The next time I see my sister, I’ll ask about her lost child.


  • catyuy says:

    Thank you for this. I’ve never really lost anyone close to me. The only death in my family was my grandfather when I was in Kindergarten. I only have a few memories of him and my mother tears up whenever I try to talk about him and I’ve been told to not talk to my Grammie about him.
    Recently my sister had a Tubal Pregnancy and had to go in for surgery when it ruptured(sp?). I was discussing my not wanting to have children with my brother’s girlfriend and my silly thought to give my uterus to someone else as I had no use for it (or more specifically wanting to be rid of periods). My sister got very upset and said I should be careful where I said such things as some women have lost children.
    I then realised that she had lost a child and froze. I had no idea what to say and still really don’t. She’s 9 and a half years older than me and we don’t share things and have never been emotionally close.

  • crustyshoes says:

    I haven’t commented on your journal before so I hope you don’t mind me writing this. This entry is so important for people to read. I understand feeling akward or not knowing what to say when someone dies, but this brush it under the rug attitude is wrong and hurtful.

    I have had three miscarriages, the third quite late, and have dealt with people saying very hurtful things. I know it’s not the same as having a born child die, but it was and still is a very difficult experience. I actually stopped telling even my close friends because the only response I got was “it’s better this way”, based on the fact that I am a student. Even now I avoid talking about it much because I tend to hear “you’ll get pregnant again, don’t worry”, or surprise that I am still hurting all this time later. I understand that it may have been awkward for those close to me, but an ear to listen or an “I’m sorry for your loss” would have been enough. I really don’t understand this forgetting and replacing idea. How is that okay? It is so not okay.

    • admin says:

      In pieces:

      “I understand feeling akward or not knowing what to say when someone dies, but this brush it under the rug attitude is wrong and hurtful.”
      Exactly. Feeling awkward? Fine. Acting like he didn’t exist? Not okay.

      “I actually stopped telling even my close friends because the only response I got was “it’s better this way”,”

      “but an ear to listen or an “I’m sorry for your loss” would have been enough. I really don’t understand this forgetting and replacing idea. How is that okay? It is so not okay.”
      Yes. Exactly. Again.

  • And like said, I was telling my mum about you the other day and I said, “She has three children, but Jericho passed away.” Whenever I think of you or talk about you he is always on my mind.


    • admin says:

      I say it to everyone who asks me, as well. Most people respond with, “I’m sorry to hear that” and move on. Which is totally fine, you know? I’m so much more comfortable with that then someone bursting into hysterical tears, running away or acting all weird for the next half an hour.

  • If I’ve ever seemed “weird” about talking to you about Jericho I am so, so sorry – it’s only because I wasn’t sure if talking about him was painful for you.

    I hate it when people gloss over a loss. It’s horrible. Just horrible. I had a relative who miscarried and people would say, “Oh, it’s ok, you’ll get pregnant again” etc, as if the following children could replace the one that was lost and I was like, NO. That is NOT the point. She carried that baby, it was a PERSON, and it died, and that child needs to be remembered, not replaced.

    I really loved this entry, and I love you. *hugs*

  • bluealoe says:

    More later when I have time, but for now: Whenever I talk about you to anyone, I always, always say “they have three children”.

    I love you.

  • frogger414 says:

    Thank you for writing this. My nephew Connor died at 34w on 9/10/04and I am still devastated to this day over his loss. Being there for my sister, listening when she needs someone and preserving his memory have been helpful in coping with his death. I am expecting my first child in June and when people ask me if it’s my family’s first grandchild, I say that it’s the fifth (I have 2 sisters with 2 children each, one of which was Connor). I couldn’t imagine not including him, he is our family and what I wouldn’t have done to bring him back.

    I won’t speak for parents of infant loss but I feel like by not remembering these babies, more damage is done. By you writing what you did will help and I will do my part to help make others aware that infant loss is real, it is important and it shouldn’t be swept under the rug.


  • sunlit_mists says:

    I just read your birth story, what an overwhelming day/week/month that must have been. Thank you so much for sharing.

  • ihatepavel says:

    I hear this sort of thing all the time when I work with bereaved clients–people who feel like the world is trying to erase their loss and their loved one, out of some misguided protective instinct and/or a defense mechanism (“if I pretend it didn’t happen, maybe it won’t affect me”). A hard thing to feel. Sorry you’re experiencing it. 🙁

    As for the terminology, I personally prefer “died” or “dead” and this is what I use as a default, but some people like “passed away” because they feel it indicates that the loved one is gone from them, for now, and that is where the emphasis is for them as opposed to focusing on the end of this life. I think it’s a personal preference thing and maybe has something to do with individual beliefs. I definitely don’t think either one is right or wrong. We’re all just muddling through this life.

    • I say both “passed away” and “died”. For me, there are no religious connotations to “passed away”, nor is there any denial about the realities of death. I do think what you said about focusing on the experience of them being gone vs. the event of death is likely part of it… but I don’t really think about it, to be honest.

  • gen_here says:

    When my mom died, I got a lot of the stock “she’s in a better place” and “at least she isn’t suffering anymore.” And while that *is* what my/our (mom, too) religious beliefs are and while she was suffering a LOT before she died – what’s so bad about being sad about missing my mom? She had been dead for all of, what, 5 or 6 days at that time? I was still trying to wrap my head around the fact that she was gone, my 10.5 month old daughter would never know more than her picture/video clips, that I was now parent-less. And none of those people speak of her at all anymore.

    But I think what hurt worse was what a very good friend of mine did. She came to the visitation the night before, talked with me, etc. She didn’t come to the funeral the next day, and I really didn’t think anything of it – I figured she was working or something came up since she lived a good bit away from there. But that afternoon she called me while I was handling some pretty heavy emotional stuff (backstory – we had just moved to OR, mom lived in Chicago, I was trying to take care of giving away all her braces/wheelchairs/walkers/canes, etc to organizations that could use them in the 5 days we were there). She called and said, “I’m sorry I wasn’t at the funeral today. I just didn’t want to be sad.”


    Okay, you didn’t come and feel you need to tell me why (which you don’t)… LIE! Tell me you were sick. Tell me you got called in to work an extra shift. Tell me you twisted your pinky finger. But for crying out loud – you didn’t want to be sad?!?! Guess what… neither did I – but I wasn’t given the choice. My only parent is dead, I buried her today – don’t call and expect me to ease your conscience while I’m on my way to her nursing home to tell the awesome staff that she’s not coming back.

    I wish I had said that. I wish I had said what you wrote. In my shock, I just said, “It’s okay.” But it wasn’t. It isn’t. And the fact that she has pretty much disappeared from my life since then… I’m torn between “good” and “why?”

    It sucks that you had to write this – both that you lost Jericho and that this stuff needs to be said. But I’m glad you did. And thank you for always being so willing to share him with us. You really are changing lives.

    • admin says:

      I’m just…. speechless at what she said to you. Totally and completely speechless.

    • tastyanagram says:

      Thanks for sharing this. My grandmother just died this summer and while I’ve been fortunate enough to not have anyone diminish my grief, they seem surprised that I feel so strongly about her death. And even though I know that it is completely normal and right to miss her so deeply even though I didn’t see her very often when she was alive, that kind of reaction still makes me poke at my grief reaction instead of letting myself just feel sad. Like you said, what’s so bad about missing my grandma? Her death was actually a very positive experience for me and my family. I feel a lot closer to everyone now, I got to say goodbye to her, the funeral services were beautiful and everyone talked about her and remembered her the way she was. I miss her so much and it hurts, but I even see that as a positive thing because it means that I truly did love her more than I ever knew I did.

      I’ve been crying over her death for the past three nights, for whatever reason. I’m trying to work up the courage to talk to my mother about her, because she seems to be doing quite well and I’m pretty sure she won’t want to talk about it. I mean, I know it’s her own mother and I shouldn’t make the mistake of assuming that talking about it will upset her; it’s that she didn’t want to talk to anyone about it at all, even my father, and she can be somewhat thoughtless in expressing her anger. Sigh.

    • My cousin did this. Her mother (my Aunt) had died about two years before mine. She had a bit of a rough go of it. But my Mom had really stepped in and helped her out through that rough time. Then, when my Mom passed away, my cousin refused to come, stating that she just couldn’t handle another sad event.

      Um, okay. So we supported you through your mother’s illness and death, and the aftermath for two years, and now that you’re through it you can’t be bothered to come support us? Sorry, we don’t have a choice, we have to go through this “other sad event.”


      • My thought on this is that it’s better to be honest with ones’ family and not attend a funeral if you feel incapable of it than it is to attend and have a complete breakdown, drug relapse, stab someone, or whatever. Sometimes it takes a second blow to unlock the floodgates of grief, and if you’re in a fragile situation then it can be better to mourn in your own way.

        Everyone mourns at their own pace as well, and just because someone isn’t present physically doesn’t mean they aren’t supporting the family through other means. I could be horrible guilty about being in Toronto and not able to see my grandma’s physical remains off, but I’m not. It happens all the time, and in this world of the internet, physical proximity for family communication and planning matters less than ever

        • admin says:

          In all fairness, I think, “I’m getting a lung transplant and probably can’t even travel across the country right now” is probably a valid excuse for missing your grandmother’s funeral. 😛

  • Anonymous says:

    I wish my husband would talk about and acknowledge our twins. They (a boy and a girl) are such HUGE part of my life and I talk about them. He will discuss them if I bring up the topic but never initiates it.

    I’m afraid that he’s forgotten them. I’m afraid to ask because I don’t want to know if he has. I’d rather just fret that he might have instead of knowing for a fact. He never felt M or L move or had any physical interaction with them aside from what I told him.

    I may have two children, but I’m a mother of four. I have holes in my heart with their names on them. The second anniversary of their death is in five weeks and I still cry and grieve. I have no idea how I’m going to honor them this year. Everything seems so … trivial.

    I wish there was a grief support group where I live.

  • mussare says:

    I’m not sure how I feel about this. On many levels, it resonates… both as regards the death of my daughter and being in cancer treatment. The being treated as almost leprous by society at large is quite the same, and there were certainly times I wanted to lose my shit (like the woman who had the mastectomy and said it should have been me, since I was “ugly anyway so it wouldn’t be any loss”. Because losing an eye and part of my face was just so easy and fun! Or the hospital staff when Hannah died. Don’t get pregnant in .nl).

    At the same time, I remember a very similar fight with my father. As he said (though, indeed, with more vitriol), I was not the only one grieving, not the only one who had lost. He would *never* now be a grandfather, which he had always wanted. I had just been given a terminal diagnosis. He had not even got halfway through muddling through his own grief and the psychological shock of loss: dead granddaughter, dying daughter. Surely that pain should count, too, and it did not/does not seem unreasonable that he should have his space to process and speak when he is ready.
    Some of my friends who have had losses. One speaks of her twins *only* online, with other deadbabymamas, has deliberately tried to forget everything about them, because for her to do otherwise would take her sanity. She has cut off family members for speaking of the twins in her presence. So I don’t know… grief varies so wildly from deadbabyparent to deadbabyparent (e.g. after Hannah was delivered my now ex-partner left me in the hospital, changed the locks on our flat, and the only way we’ve spoken since is through lawyers b/c as I found out the hard way, he doesn’t do grief) that I feel wary of blanket instructions for the (thankfully) uninitiated; and yet I do think what you have written is a most excellent thing.

    That said, my father is not your mother-in-law, and if it was malice and not incompetence, then my feelings veer back towards the first paragraph.

    A bit rambly, sorry.

  • I am truly sorry if I’ve ever avoided discussing Jericho in conversations. I can’t remember any times when I have, but it honestly sounds like something I would have done in the past.

    For selfish reasons (future psychology practice), I am extremely thankful for this information. In my coursework in grad school, we used to discuss our personal strengths and weaknesses. I always said death was my biggest weakness. Mainstream North American society as a whole SUCKS at death. I just never learned how to deal with it, outside of my own family (ironically, my family is very open about death and talk about our deceased family members in regular conversation on a daily basis.) I am thinking now, after reading this (and after knowing you since Jericho’s birth and death), I may suck a little less at it.

    So thank you, and if relevant, I’m sorry. Have I offended you at any time (I mean, of course I have, but about this in particular)?

    I just want you to know I’m going to shout this message from the rooftops from now out.

    • bluealoe says:

      Mainstream North American society as a whole SUCKS at death.

      Damn straight.

    • admin says:

      I honestly don’t recall any time where you’ve said something (or not said something) that has offended me in regards to Jericho. And I’m really thinking hard… but really, I can’t think of any time.

      And, that isn’t selfish at all: it’s awesome to hear you say that about taking in for psychology purposes. That makes me feel really good about doing it.

  • eschapps says:

    I must admit that I didn’t quite get it with the previous post. I didn’t understand how you could be so mad. But you really seemed to bare your soul and not hold back with this one, and it really helped me gain an understanding of how it might feel to lose someone so close, not experiencing that myself, and how to be a better friend and human being to those around me.

    Actually, when reading your posts, there have been quite a few times that I don’t understand why you would be so upset with a person or situation in your life. Maybe our brains are set up differently or we’ve had different life experiences, so my gut reaction would be to feel or act differently. But by the end of the post, or sometimes a few days later after thinking about it for a while, I have an “ah-hah” moment where I feel that I get it.

    Basically, I want to thank you for putting yourself out there, not only with this post, but all of your posts.

    • admin says:

      Thank you for saying this (and for your honesty). I appreciate it. 🙂
      There are many times I read things and I don’t “get” it, or don’t understand the thought process… Sometimes I’ll feel offended by something that wasn’t at all about me and I’ll walk away for a few days, come back and suddenly get it. There’s a lot to be said for being able to gain some perspective, or even just some basic understanding/sympathy. 🙂 Hope this made sense. Anyway… the whole thing was, “Thanks for saying this”.

  • nutmegdealer says:

    this was really eyeopening to me, but i have another question. what does someone who has no idea what to say say? just i’m sorry? i get that you can’t be a dolt and say “i understand”.

    • smellykaka says:

      I once said to someone “sorry, I’ve just no idea what to say”. I think he appreciated even that more than he would have silence.

      • admin says:

        Yes. To be honest, while that’s not the most perfect response (and there really isn’t one) it’s way better than silence.

        Sharing your own experiences is also welcome. That’s not the same as ‘making it about you’ the way I speak of in this entry (which was in reference to allowing your awkwardness to project onto them).
        Most of all, you don’t want to feel alone… it’s hard not to. Knowing there are others out there helps a lot. When people come by and share their stories of children, siblings, cousins, even a parent who died… it’s comforting. Knowing that someone, somewhere, knows what it’s like helps a lot.

        And don’t compare. Don’t do the, “It’s not AT ALL as bad but…” just erase that all together and take it out of your vocabulary. No one cares, no one’s judging – except you. It’s understood, and unsaid, that grief is experienced in different ways.

        • smellykaka says:

          In this particular case, it was the brother of a friend who had just been diagnosed HIV positive. That experience taught me something significant about bad news and grief and how you react to it – the news was like a kick in the stomach, and I could hardly speak for a few minutes. Exactly a week later I received a phone call saying that the guy who we’d seen in the news that morning who’d been beaten to death in a fight was another friend, and even though it was much worse news about someone I knew a lot better, I barely felt any reaction. Just said “Oh.” and went to look up the article again. Took a while for the news to sink in.

          • admin says:

            I feel like that often when I’m doing the NILMDTS sessions. I feel almost nothing at the time; as if something’s wrong with me completely. Sometimes I feel so “nothing” that I actually worry about myself: do I care?

            Then a few days later it suddenly hits me, usually through something else. Something benign. Sometimes it seems totally random.

      • When my Mom died, I most appreciated the people who said, “I don’t know what to say.” It seemed the most honest, and it took more guts to admit than those who knew the “right” thing to say. And, generally, it opened it up for me to set the parameters of conversation (for me = no boundaries, but I still appreciated the opportunity to set them.)

        The things I appreciated least were statements or observations about me/my experience. “It must be so hard.” or “you’re so strong.” I can’t begin to unpack all the different things that were wrong with those kinds of statements, but the general rule with me was, “ask, don’t assume.”

    • admin says:

      “Tell me about him/her/them”.

  • Anonymous says:

    Thanks for writing this.
    My parents had a son about 5 years before I was born. He died just after his first birthday from an unknown cause. My parents have moved across the country since then and divorced, but they both still mention him from time to time. I don’t know if my mom thinks of him daily anymore, but I wouldn’t be surprised…she’s always kept his baby hospital picture on her dresser. We found his newborn hat in a box of stuff we were going through awhile ago and she got all choked up, but we took some time to talk about him and how he was as a baby. I know other family members (grandparents, aunts & uncles) are more hesitant to talk about him though.
    When people ask if I have siblings, I always include him (I also have a younger brother). Even though I never met Jason, he’s my 2nd brother and especially since I’ve been reading your blog, I make a point to acknowledge his life because, like you said in your earlier post, he counts too. It might make people uncomfortable, but that’s their problem.
    As an aside, you can count me in the crowd that remembers Jericho’s birthday even though I’ve never met your family. I also remember that there’s a star named for him and whenever I can see the stars, I think of him too and wonder which star is his(I live in a city, so it’s a treat to see the stars clearly).

  • sunlit_mists says:

    Thank you. Thank you for putting into words what I have felt so many times.

    Thank you for taking the time to write about all the dead babies, some who got to breathe and many who didn’t. They were real. My 6 dead babies are just as real as the 3 living ones.

    • admin says:

      You’re welcome. 🙂

      And, it’s weird… but I get a little kick out of any mom who has “been there” who is bold enough to say “Dead” instead of, “angel wings” or “passed away” or “heavenly body” or whatever.
      It’s like the equivalent of saying ‘cunt’ somehow, as a woman. It feels like you’re reclaiming something: somewhat for shock value, but mostly because it’s true and people NEED to know that. Stop sugar coating my son: he died, he’s dead. I know it – you know it – stop calling it cutsey names. Does that make sense?

      • sunlit_mists says:

        Yes that makes perfect sense, so much sense!!

        I can’t stand the term passed away.. I can live with the word passed, but even so.. they died, they are dead…I prefer just about any other term.

        My husband loves the term passed away, says it about all death… animals, his first wife, the babies, including deaths yet to happen ( his Dad’s.) It makes me cringe every time.. yeah, it’s sugar coating.

        Maybe it is the pagan in me, maybe I just like to think I can accept the cycles of life and death, maybe I have just had alot of death in my life.

        Also, because one of my dead babies was one that I aborted, I have less use for the sugar coating. I accept the decision I made then, it is not something I would ever repeat, but I did it, I chose to end the life of a child carried inside my womb. It took alot of time to accept that. I can’t stand when that is hushed and shushed, or other people make excuses for that decision, thinking they are sparing me guilt. That is mine to own go find your own.

        One of these days, I should come visit, I would love to meet you and we live so close.

      • bluealoe says:

        The one that gets me is “I lost my _____.” To me, “lost” implies that you’ve misplaced something, and maybe you’ll find it again someday. I did not misplace my dad, like he was a pair of glasses or my car keys. I knew exactly where he was, but he was taken away, fighting the whole time.

        I don’t mind if other people use the term, it just doesn’t work for me.

  • Anonymous says:

    You, your family and your children are beautiful. I am sorry for the loss of your son. This is a very, very powerful post. Thank you for sharing.

  • ashosaurus says:

    I have always been terrified of having children. I’m afraid of having a c-section, and I’m afraid of having a crappy doctor attend the delivery. Mostly, I’m afraid of losing a baby/child at some point.

    My cousin died when he was two, from leukemia. He was a sweet little pudge face and even though it was 20-some-odd years ago, people in my family still have his pictures on the fridge. We don’t talk about him much, but I personally think about him often, even though I don’t remember him very well (I have glimpses of memories of being in Iowa visiting him while he was at a specialty hospital there).

    I’ve learned a LOT from you about babies, birth, etc., (I started reading you right before Jericho was born, I’m 24 now). The most wonderful thing I’ve ever read in your journal was your description of Jericho’s life inside of you – safe, protected, and REAL. I work with organ and tissue donors and their families, and I know for most of them, the acknowledgment of their loved one’s life and how valuable they were to them and others is one of the most healing things they can experience.

    So anyway, I’m glad you wrote this (not that you’re looking for or need validation). I think people need to stop beating around the bush and just acknowledge that every person has value and that even a 20-week stillborn baby can change lives.

  • neuraltube says:

    Yes, yes, yes. Having lost several close family members and at least three pregnancies, I’m thankful that I know enough to acknowledge the losses of others. I still tell people, when asked about my siblings, that I have a sister and that I had a brother who died. And it’s amazing to me how many people go silent. I want to tell them, go ahead, ASK ABOUT HIM! It doesn’t matter that he’s been dead 20 years. I haven’t forgotten. I don’t WANT him to be forgotten, just because he died at 18 and I’ve made it to 40-something. And btw, I think what you are doing with NILMDTS is a beautiful, wonderful, amazing, priceless thing. Thank you for helping those moms preserve their memories. It breaks my heart to think that so many moms don’t get that help, and that no one asks them about their babies after they’ve died. And how many people will never call those moms because they feel awkward, or they don’t know what to say. It makes me want to scream.

  • Good for you for writing this.

    It’s sad that people have to be told how to treat the situation but we do. I remember being unsure how to respond to my best friend when her daughter died at 3 weeks old.

    I’m ashamed to admit I used to listen to her talk for hours about Amity and feel so awkward and wish she’d stop talking about it.

    Reading your journal helped me to understand what I needed to do as her friend.

  • just_shoe_me says:

    thank you for writing this. I always marvel at your writing but in this particular instance, I felt as if you were reading so much of my mind. I have not lost a child, but my mother died a year and a half ago, at age 55, from cancer. She found out in January ’08 and died on my birthday in August, that same year.
    I grow more and more frustrated with family who never mention her now, and in the past with friends who never asked how she was doing as she was going to chemo and radiation. Now that she is gone, I want to talk about her and have learned to do so only with those who do not get that….look on their face when it comes up. I think about her every day and tell those who get all nervous that yes, it’s ok to talk about her…it’s not like I am going to all of a sudden smack myself on the forehead and say YES, THAT’S RIGHT, I had forgotten about my mother and now that you’ve mentioned her I am going to be upset. I think about her all the time and talking about her helps, not hurts.
    thank you for voicing it so well.

  • The world needs this. It needs a voice like yours, crying out…louder and louder. We are all blessed to hear it, in ways that can never be fully articulated.

  • noelove says:

    fuck. ya. dude. fuck yah.

  • madamemonday says:

    This struck a chord with me, both as a mother and as the sister of a ‘dead baby’.

    As a sister: I was two when my sister Ashley was born with brain damage due to birth trauma and my parents had to make the heart-rending decision to take her off the life support that was keeping her shell with us. We’ve always acknowledged her presence, her picture from her funeral hangs in a prominent place in my parents’ house. My parents always include her in a rundown of their offspring. It comes natural to me to talk about her if the subject comes up. I don’t remember her but she existed. I’ve touched her things, I’ve seen the pictures. That’s real enough for me.

    As a mother: I had a miscarriage with a blighted ovum. My body was pregnant but no baby formed. I went through the trauma of bleeding, agony, and loss but yet I hesitate to call myself ‘a mother of three’. I want to claim what was the promise of my child-to-be but with no physical body to show for it, I almost feel as if it’s inappropriate.

    Long story short, I so get you.

  • oopidsnot says:

    Hells yeah!

    May I share this as well? There are people who would realy benefit from reading this.

  • allisonbb says:

    I lost my second baby 6 years ago at the end of this month. No one remembers. I guess because I was *only* 7 weeks along and was told *it* was a blighted ovum.

    I lost my third baby 5 1/2 years ago. No one talks of that one either. I guess because the baby, who had a beautiful heartbeat, was *only* 7 weeks along, just like the first.

    When my husband and 2 sons (we had a son after the 2 losses) moved, we dug up our buried babies and brought them home with us. This may freak some people out, but I don’t give a shit. They belong close to us.

    We had another son shortly after moving.

    Last year in February, I found out I was pregnant again. I went in for an early u/s only to be told there was only a yolk sac, nothing else. I mourned for 2 weeks thinking we had lost another baby. Our youngest son was just over a year old when this happened and I was told “at least you still have a baby to hold.” WTF? Don’t tell me that when I’m numb and crying after being told there is no hope for this baby. I don’t care if I only knew for a few days that I was pregnant. I was excited and looking forward to this little life. Don’t fucking tell me things like this!

    Thankfully our daughter is here and is almost 3 months old. The stupid u/s tech was WRONG! I sure hope he learned a lesson and won’t tell mothers not to hold out hope when he isn’t 100% positive.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that a mother never, ever forgets, nor should she be expected to. It really pisses me off when we’re just expected to forget and not talk about our pain, our loss of a dream. Our babies! They mattered, damnit!

    • admin says:

      Thank you for sharing this.

      And, damn right.

    • This resonates so strongly with me. I only knew I was pregnant for a week before having a miscarriage at around 6 weeks. Whether it’s societal influences, or just my own self-doubt, I often feel like I should be over it already, it happened a few months ago now, I only knew for a week, why am I still so sad….I don’t have any of the answers, all I know if that I still can’t look at the pregnancy test aisle, or a mother with a newborn, or see a commercial with a sleeping infant without crying. No matter how long that spark of life lasted, it contained its own special hopes and dreams, and those disappeared when the spark went out. Early miscarriages are their own special kind of difficult because there is literally NOTHING left to hold on to in their wake.

      • Early miscarriages are their own special kind of difficult because there is literally NOTHING left to hold on to in their wake.

        You have perfectly summed up the root-cause of how I’ve been feeling for the last three months, since I miscarried at 6 weeks.

        Someone told me the other day that her sister was pregnant and due in July and I had to excuse myself and go to the restroom and weep because my baby would have been older than theirs.

        Everyone around me who knows tries to sweep it under the rug and change the subject when I bring it up. Part of their reason? Is that it wasn’t a planned pregnancy. “You didn’t plan it anyway.” They make me feel like I shouldn’t care.

        It’s nice to know I’m not alone.

        Thank you.

  • ivymae says:


    I don’t know who taught me that the “appropriate thing to say” when someone bears their soul to me is “Thank you for trusting me enough to share that with me,” but I wish I could thank them. As an adult, or maybe moreso as a mother, i feel like I use that line constantly. I say it sincerely, and I make sure to ask questions – Have you read such and such book about the subject, did you realize Jane went through something similar with her son, did you live here in town when it happened/was there a lot of support afterwards, do you mind if I let another mom know your story because she is in a similar position, when was her birthday, what grade was she in, did he look like Sam, how are you doing now? And sometimes it IS awkward, and sometimes I feel like i am prying, and sometimes we are silent for a minute, and sometimes people cry, and sometimes I go home unsure about whether I should have said X or Y… but that is okay. Thank you for reminding me that it is better for me to go home wondering if I said something stupid than for them to go home wishing they had not brought it (and ohhh the “it”‘s on our lives) up.

  • smellykaka says:

    I have a friend who has lost three babies – she has an incompetent cervix, and lost all three at 20 something weeks. The latter two she spent most of the pregnancies in bed – not even able to get up and go to the loo – trying to keep them. Saddest part was her facebook post a few days before the end of the third pregnancy “ is now more pregnant than she’s ever been!”.

    Anyways, I don’t always understand (though reading your posts is helping me get it) how or why she grieves in a particular way – dumb male here, y’see – but the important thing is to keep my damn mouth shut and accept that she /does/ react in a particular way and her way of grieving works for her. And I remember that their names are Camden, Keegan, and Caeden.

    A different friend has told me in the past how he dotes on his little sister because his first sister died in infancy. So when his parents came over to NZ at the beginning of last year, I sat his Mum down in a quiet moment, and asked if she’d mind talking about her. “Oh not at all” and we had a conversation that it’s probably not quite right to say I enjoyed, but I was pleased to hear more about the lost sister.

  • frogmorest says:

    amen to all of this sister. *hugs*

  • Thank you for saying all this.

  • sarcasta says:

    I want to print this out, frame it, duct tape it, staple it, super glue it, and have it tattooed to my forehead. It would be much less painful than having the the elephant in the room.

    You have an amazing gift, my dear.

    People suck.

  • Thank you for this. Having never experienced a loss like that I didn’t know how to respond and “I’m sorry” is so inadequate. This makes it very clear. I hope it’s okay that I linked to it. I think people need to read this.

  • I love this. This is a great way to express these feelings and I applaud you for writing this. I agree with all of these points.

  • eeyore9990 says:

    I don’t entirely know what to say to this, because so much of it resonates with me, but at the same time, I’m as guilty as anyone. My son, Zachary, died 2 months and 6 days after he was born. He was perfectly healthy, learning to grin, holding his head up, and he died while napping. SIDS. I remember the day perfectly, and will never be able to erase my last view of him from my memory. And I’ll admit that some days I really really want to. Because my last memory of him was of him dead, not him alive. And I’d rather remember the little shit that pulled out his daddy’s chest hairs (I swear he did it on purpose) until my husband, in an act of self-preservation, shaved his chest, than to think of the too-still, too-purple, too-pale, too-dead baby.

    We’re a military family, so I move a lot and meet new people all the time. And rarely do I mention Zach, though when the inevitable birthing stories come up, I tend to go on and on about my three deliveries. People don’t ask, and I’ve grown used to that.

    I think the reason I don’t mention him anymore is because it hurts so much more to see that look on their face. You know the look, I’m sure. The deer-in-the-headlights, oh-shit-what-do-I-say look. The one that tells you their feet are itching to slide sideways and they just want to back out of the conversation because holy shit, how do they have a conversation with a woman about her dead baby?

    I guess the part that makes that easiest for me is that, if I want to talk about Zach (and I do), I have a million people I can call and just reminisce with. For as little time as he was here with us, he touched a lot of lives. And I suppose that’s enough for me.

    But maybe, from now on, I’ll remember this and do a bit more talking about my three sons.

  • satinworship says:

    That was pretty amazing to read.

    • admin says:

      I think the last time I was this pissed on Lj was when, during a totally unrelated conversation with a friend, total strangers jumped in to tell me that it was “Clear” that I cared more about feeling self-righteous ‘wronged’ from my cesarean than to care about the death of my son.
      And this was, for some reason, because I was white.

      There’s about sixteen different things not okay with that.

        • admin says:

          Yeah. I know. I’ve never, ever gotten over that.

          I really don’t even care if there were other, valid points to any other argument somewhere along that chain. You just… don’t say shit like that to someone. They jumped in later to throw in a bunch of weird pieces of phrases that I’d said in various communities – totally out of context – to make me look bad (Ie. saying that I had “claimed to be everything from chinese to native american” rather than admit I was white?…). I didn’t even bother to try and correct them. It was clear they were just out to be really, really fucking awful people.

      • satinworship says:

        First of all, there’s never a wrong way to feel. Secondly, even if you, in that moment, were more focused on the c-section, I would assume that it was a defense mechanism to cope with your loss, focusing on the smaller issue of being violated like that, to prevent yourself from becoming completely overwhelmed with grief. So it’s pretty horrible to try and fault you for such a thing.

        I am one of those people who copes with things by jokes. My husband has been to Iraq twice, and both times his mom was here with me to see him off. She was crying on and off, while I was saying things like, “Now I can listen to whatever I want on the car stereo!” and sticking my dog in her face to make her laugh so she would stop crying. She kept trying to get me to cry. It’s not because I wasn’t sad he had left, it’s just because that’s what I need to do to function. If I sat down and started crying just because he had left, i’d never stop. I saved the crying for things like when I spun the car into a ditch in an ice storm in another state, or when the internet totally fucked up and a shelf came out of our wall and dumped about 50 dvds onto the floor in the middle of the night.

        I shared those feelings with a friend a few weeks later when her husband deployed for the first time (including how my mother-in-law made me feel like a monster for not crying), and later she wrote an entry about how she saw women at the deployment farewell not crying and basically said that she clearly loved her husband more because she was a sobbing dramatic mess. Slap. In. The. Face.

        I went off a little there. Bottom line: People are Cunty McCuntfaces.

        • satinworship says:

          Annnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnd I totally used the wrong icon there!

        • admin says:

          I couldn’t put my finger on a big part of why that all bothered me so much, but you have right here, and that’s exactly it.

          I cope by jokes as well. Sarcasm. Dark, biting sarcasm. A lot of people find it odd. I make very dark jokes that can be very off-putting. My whole family copes that way. It’s just how we do it best.

      • tastyanagram says:

        Obviously that made you furious, but that description just made me laugh because that situation is so ridiculous.

      • Words fail me at that pile of crap. 0_o

  • *Stands and applauds* Bravo, Heather. Thank you.

  • Thank you for writing this. For someone with no experience of this subject matter, I honestly didn’t know how to approach it – whether bringing it up makes it worse, somehow, or whether avoiding it just makes it even more awkward and painful. When I was younger I always imagined that if I had a miscarriage (or an abortion), or even a stillborn child, I wouldn’t be too sad – I’d think that the body of this child didn’t work, out, so its soul would go back to heaven/wherever souls stay and the same child would come to me the next time I was able to have one. It is also traditional where I am from not to name children until they’re 1-3 months old, although that custom is fading away, I guess because in case the child didn’t survive, it was best not to get too attached. I have an uncle who was stillborn who is buried with “Boy Ívarsson” on his tombstone. After all, if you never really get to know it, then what’s the loss, really? But… I guess it doesn’t work like that. Each child is unique, no matter how long it lives.

    I’ll never forget – a few months after I started working at a new place, one of my coworkers who had her youngest son at the daycare we were working at, requested that she could have a few minutes at a meeting. She then tearfully proceeded to tell us that she actually was a mother of three – her daughter before that son was stillborn. The time had somehow never seemed right for her to bring it up, but at the same time, she couldn’t bear the thought of all of us thinking she only had two children. And on her facebook she lists her three children by name on her profile, with “angel child” next to the middle one. So, thankfully, the culture seems to be changing in the direction of acknowledging all life, no matter how long it was with us.

    • admin says:

      It makes me happy that your coworker was able to tell you all that, and that you all were able to listen.

      And I’m glad things are changing to honour children, and be okay with grief.

  • alathia says:

    the NiLMDTS newsletter came into my inbox today, stating that their fifth anniversary was coming up in March and everyone was invited (it’s in Colorado, I think). I thought of you.

    I hope that you wrote all of this to Curtis’ mother as well. Thank you for putting it out there in such plain language for everyone to see.

    • admin says:

      Well… maybe with a lot less vitrol. 😉 But, if she calls to apologize (or cry) I am going to say the gist of it to her. I really don’t have the time, or want, to sugar-coat it for her.

      • gerimaple says:

        Remove only the swearing and send it to her, as is.

        I’m keeping this for reference, as this has happened to one my closest friends recently. Gods know I’ve already made mistakes in ‘dealing’ with the situation, but maybe with your words I can avoid making more.

        Thank you, and rock on.

        • admin says:

          You know, the thing is… if you make a mistake and you can say, “Oh shit, I’m sorry – I didn’t mean to come off as insensitive” and then do your best to fix it? Well, that’s awesome. It might sting a little at first (as they tend to) but what your friend will remember is your willingness to learn, grow, and care for her.

          Most of all, you taking responsibility for saying something offensive and then not pouring your guilt all over your (thereby forcing her to carry it as a burden… on top of any pain she might feel from a misunderstanding).

          That makes it 100x better.

          It’s the people that say something shitty, and when you turn around and say, “Wow, that sucked” and THEY get angry at YOU? Those are the ones that really suck.

  • greenmama says:

    “I don’t need you to remind me that my son died, you self-important piece of shit. I remember every single day without your “help”. Do you think you’re so special that you’re the only reason I haven’t thought about my son today, and that if you dared respect his memory by acknowledging he was a part of my family, of my life, that he’s still here for me, that my whole world would fall apart the instant his name left your precious lips? Do you think I really give a flying fuck if you feel awkward standing in front of me knowing that I’m marred by death?”

    This makes SO much sense to me. I never understood the thinking that mentioning a dead child or family member was taboo. It drives me personally batty when everyone tiptoes around the subject as if by some stretch of the imagination the non-acknowledging is “better” for them. Its sad that some people believe if they do mention the deceased they’ll be being rude when in fact it is absolutely more rude to NOT acknowledge the life.

    • admin says:

      Thank you.

      It becomes an elephant in the room. You walk in the door at a family dinner and it’s like you have a giant tumour on your face. Everyone’s staring but no one wants to admit they’re staring. “Oh your…. hair looks nice!”. Like you somehow don’t realize you have it there, and that everyone’s staring at it.

      • greenmama says:

        I lost my mom three years ago. Almost nobody acknowledges it. Including my father and brother. Once the funeral was over I guess that meant all feelings on the subject were to be cremated along with her. The only person who willingly writes me every year on her birthday and the anniversary of her death is one of her cousins.

        Also I should be “over it” by now. Did you get that memo too? Why aren’t you “over it?” Pisses. Me. Off. “It” was a person that I loved dearly that died. Life continues, but you don’t “get over” the death of a loved one like you do the flu.

        Knowing my pain and emptiness over losing someone that, though she died young, in point of fact I was always meant to outlive… I could never act like a dead child didn’t exist. Stillborns and miscarriages included.

        I always remember Jericho. I don’t usually say it because, well, I’m some random person in NJ, USA. He died when I was pregnant with my first, and I’d started reading your lj just a few weeks before then. I love that his picture is always prominent on your page.

        Thanks for writing what others won’t.

        • admin says:

          Thank you for sharing your mother.

          And, yeah… the “aren’t you over this by now?” bullshit. I’m going on four years AND I had a “replacement child”.

        • freedom123 says:

          I just lost my mom in August, and I talk about her all the time. Some people in my family don’t or won’t even on holidays and stuff. The hardest day for me so far has been her birthday, and the only person who called me was my moms best friend from when she was a little girl. I am the youngest of my siblings, and while I am nearly 30 years old, it would have been nice to hear from them on such a rough day for me. I guess what I am trying to say is that I understand. You can’t just forget your mom.

          • No one called me today, my own mother’s birthday, whom I lost about 3 years ago. Her birthday the 1st year was so incredibly hard.
            Today I made a point to talk about her often.

            I don’t have the right words, but.. I understand.

        • I also lost my mother about 3 years ago. Today (the 4th) is her birthday. All day, whenever someone asked for the date I said “It’s the 4th, my Mom’s birthday.”
          I don’t care if it makes someone uncomfortable. It will always be her birthday. I won’t forget her…

          • admin says:

            Happy birthday to your mother. 🙂

            My grandmother died just before I was nine. I still remember her birthday every year (Dec. 18th) and the day she died (Apr 12).
            Curtis’ birthday is Dec 19th, one day later. And the day we said “I love you” and really made our relationship real was Apr 13th… also one day later.

            • Thank you 🙂
              Surprisingly enough, I do not remember her death day. She was in a coma for 2 weeks or so before she passed; I remember I was at work and I actually kept working. People thought I was nuts but… I don’t know. I knew she was dying. I was as prepared as I could be.

              • admin says:

                That’s probably the difference: I was NOT AT ALL prepared for my grandmother’s death. She was everything to me at that time, and just hours earlier had told me, “Don’t worry, I’ll be home to make you biscuits” and then never came back.

                • Oh man, yeah. That would have f-ed with my mind, hardcore.
                  My mom was given 6months a year and 1/2 before she died. She was a fighter, I tell you. She told that cancer to fuck off and while it didnt really listen, she definitely was here longer than anyone thought she would be. She paid for it though – another reason I was more ok with when she died. I didn’t want my last memories of my mom to be that sick body – I wanted to remember her as she was, before she was sick.
                  I also told her, quite frankly, before she died that I don’t like ghosts and she is not to let me know she is here. My sister and my Dad have both had weird experiences that can’t be explained (ghostly things, and the like) but I haven’t. I really do think she is there, watching over us, but won’t contact me because of that.
                  It’s strange how in my family we just did accept death, and so many people can’t or wont. It’s so natural to me to not sugar-coat it.

                • greenmama says:

                  Oh man, famous last words. I wasn’t prepared either. My mom dyed my hair the night she died and we talked a lot. She and dad were going to be moving to FL in a year or so for her health and I was going to move to Boston. We had a good laugh and cry, but ingrained in me is how she said “I know we have to go, and you have to stay, but I just don’t want things to change, you know?” And then everything changed forever. Kills me. Now I wish she were just in Florida.

        • bluealoe says:

          My dad died three and a half years ago, and I struggle with it every day. There is no such thing as “getting over it”; you just learn to live with the grief.

          I also hate the “well, parents are supposed to die before their children”. Like the fact that it’s “natural” makes it easier. Bullshit.

          The hardest part for me is that my entire life, my dad was there. I never knew life without him. So to wake up one day and found out that suddenly the universe didn’t have my dad in it….it’s the kind of thing you can’t wrap your brain around.

    • When people refused to acknowledge my daughter, it made me feel crazy, as if this nightmare was truly just that – my personal nightmare that no one else had experienced. Seriously, it was a crazy messed up feeling. I NEEDED people to say her name, talk about her like she was a real person.

      And when people apologized for “making” me cry when they mentioned her, I would assure them that nothing they ever said to me could make me feel any worse than I already did. *They* didn’t make me cry, my broken heart and daughter in the ground made me cry!

      /rant (LOL)

    • Anonymous says:

      Wbat not to say

      OK, I know this is 11 months since this was posted, but it really is a winner. My son was stillborn at 31 weeks. At a party in my neighborhood that I tentatively attended, one person asked me if the baby came out cold or warm. REALLY? You had to know that? When I simply said that he came out of my warm body, the idiot said “Oh, I guess right and Debbie guessed wrong”. I wanted to throw up.

      • admin says:

        Re: Wbat not to say

        My jaw is on the floor. I cannot believe someone asked that so … (forgive me) coldly. And then acted like they fucking took a bet over it. I’m just… wow. Just wow.

  • travellight says:

    Those of us who have not suffered the loss of a child often do not know how to behave unless we are told. Thank you for answering the unasked question.

    • I was just coming here to post something along these lines. Before reading you, I wouldn’t have known what to say to someone who lost a child. And because of you, when my friend’s daughter died a few hours after she was born, I knew that my friend wanted me to ask about her. What she looked like, what she smelled like, what it felt like to have her in her arms, even if it was for such a short time. Because while she’s mourning a loss, she would still like to celebrate the life and the memory.

      So thank you for sharing this.

    • Anonymous says:

      >>>Those of us who have not suffered the loss of a child often do not know how to behave unless we are told. Thank you for answering the unasked question.

      Except that it would be more useful to give concrete examples of what should be said. We were told what not to do or say, and that we’re fuck-ups for doing or saying it, but I seriously think people could use something more like an actual script. This just comes across like those drill sergeants and substitute teachers who scream about what idiots people are without bothering to tell them exactly what they were supposed to be doing instead.

      We’re all taught how to say “How do you do?” and to politely congratulate the pregnant (*not* “was it a planned?”) and to say “best wishes” to brides (*not* “congratulations”). But other than saying “I’m so sorry” I don’t really know what to say when someone tells me that her baby died. If I know the mother well I might ask “What was your baby’s name?” and then I see if the mother just answers (catching the conversational ball) or if she adds more (throwing the conversational ball back, indicating the level to which she feels like talking about her child right now).

      I think (and my older relatives back me up) that actually in the past it was easier for people to talk about — it was *less* swept under the rug rather than more, as you argue. For the simple reason that most women had the experience of losing children — stillbirths as well as the loss of children to now-preventable disease. Used to be you definitely knew someone whose baby got measles and died, and someone else whose kid got scraped on a nail and died, and someone else whose baby died during a complicated delivery, so you had some practice talking about it. It’s (thankfully) so unusual these days for someone’s baby to die that nobody knows the script.

  • jeninmaine says:

    Even now I have a hard time “admitting” to other people that I have three children and not two – mostly because since my daughter was born at 16 weeks she wasn’t a “real baby”. I want to tell people but they get so gobsmacked and confused that it just tears me up inside, explaining it and justifying it all over again. Probably because my guilt is still a very strong and tangible thing, so I guess that’s my hangup.

    I’ve had a similar discussion with a friend of mine whose young husband died, how no one wants to address the elephant in the room and will go to great lengths to avoid it. I called her up the other day and talked about him, didn’t say he “passed away” or that he’s “gone”, but that he DIED. Talked about how unfair it is and how I think about them every day and I love them so.

    I’m rambling. Anyway.

  • fkgirl says:

    No words except FUCKING A fit this

  • *stands to applaud* Thank you for that Heather, so perfectly expressed, so honestly felt.

  • ppplmgwiw says:

    Powerful and important. Thank you.

  • lalicopa says:

    Heather, this was very brave of you to write, and I’m very grateful that you did.

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