“Is your grieving finished?” my massage therapist asked me yesterday. Ummm, no? What kind of question is that? I danced around it, trying to explain that my grief is just part of who I am. I celebrate my current pregnancy – I had to give myself permission to feel joy, but simultaneous is the sadness I carry called Henry.
He’s everywhere, and with me always. I wear a small blue moonstone necklace with his ashes inside on a gold chain that also has a tiny pair of baby feet dangling next to him. I put it on every morning from where it rests on my nightstand on a heart-shaped crystal. I say good morning to my baby every day, and goodnight every night. My firstborn. (firstBORN – born born born. Get it?!). My Henry.We’re never, ever apart.
There’s nothing cute about it. I’ve heard every rendition, twist and turn to try to transform my experience with my son into an imaginary picturesque scenario involving fluffy white-winged angels. Frankly, if you do this, you’ve seen too many Disney movies and need to get off the fairy-rollercoaster.
NO, it’s not wonderful there’s an angel waiting for me in “heaven,” – do I even believe in heaven? Where is it?
A beloved friend of mine recently and tragically lost her baby. It hasn’t been a full 72 hours and she’s already been ambushed with ridiculous, insensitive, STUPID shit, like the fluffy angel conspiracy, and worse. I’m appalled by what she’s been subjected to. Especially – – ->
“It’s not a big deal.”
If you said this to a loss mom or dad, ever, fuck right off and eat a bag of shit. No, it’s just her fucking BABY she lost. Her hopes, her dreams, all the anticipation. All the love and preparation it takes to bring a new life to the world. All the attempts to spark this life into existence. The planning, the charting, the changes in diet and life habits. All the physical and hormonal changes. The months of being sick as a dog thanks to first trimester blues. The strands of hope and wishes she clung to while waiting to hear either good or heartbreaking news when she recently was sicker than usual and had to rush herself to the nearest hospital. The earth-shattering news she received when the doctors told her the life inside her stopped. The news she had to share with her daughter that no, in fact, you aren’t getting a new brother or sister for now. The awful feeling that you’re a terrible mother for not being able to keep your baby alive. The feeling that you want to die, too, just so you can meet your dead child, who grew inside you, whose feet you’ll never hear slapping on the linoleum, whose hair you’ll never brush, whose laughter and cries you’ll never hear, whose birthday (which is also their death day) you will celebrate every year to honour their cherished place in your life.
Nah, not a big deal. Have an ice-cream cone, take a bath and move on. It’s just like any other day. Not even as sad as losing a pet, or chipping a manicured fingernail.
Losing a baby IS a big deal. It’s life’s BIGGEST deal. I’d love to know, those out there who have had the gall to say this to a grieving parent, what you define as a big deal. Oprah losing weight? Getting a parking ticket? Spam? A bad hair day?
We move through a scorching fire, and you bloody idiots who say things like “it’s not a big deal” on the other side have absolutely no idea what it’s like. If you’re going to diminish our pain, our devastation, our shattered lives, it might give you more satisfaction to go to an orphanage with your kids and point your finger and laugh at the children and infants inside who have lost their parents. That’s no big deal either, right? They can just get adopted and move on. It would be just as tactful, just as helpful, and just as meaningful to them as it is to us who have had our children die inside of us.
I’ve been tossing this anger around inside me for the last few days. I can’t believe people we consider friends and family can be this insensitive after all this time. I’m not glossing it over this time with “of course your are well-intended.” No. Use your evolved, higher-thinking brain to etch out just an extra second of compassion. Forget your discomfort, and look at the person before you. Understand their pain. Understand that you don’t understand, and for the love of all things breathing, DON’T say something so searing, so unfathomable and insulting as “it’s not a big deal.”
We’re grieving still – there’s no expiry date. We’ll miss our children until the day we die. How dare you assume it isn’t a big deal, or that it’s something we eventually get over?