Hi, my name is Courtney and I’m a loss mom. My daughter was stillborn at 30 weeks in September of 2019. Statistically (and sadly), you are the friend or family member of a loss mom, you are a loss mom yourself, or perhaps you are both. I haven’t been great about letting people know what I want/need in terms of dealing with my loss, and it’s possible that the women in your life who have also dealt with loss are the same. So, here are some suggestions that you may find helpful and some points of view you may not have previously considered. Please note that these come from my own experiences (so I will be using personal pronouns), and your mileage may vary.
Many people are on social media for the purpose of sharing events in their lives and the lives of their family. This obviously includes pictures. While you may think nothing of posting your annual family photo shoots, family vacation shots, or even just candids of you and your baby or child, seeing these as I scroll through can feel like a stab to the heart. They act as reminders of memories that my family will never make. I will never take a picture of my son with his sister. I will never again pose with my daughter after the precious few pictures taken at the hospital right after her birth. Thus, the odds are that I won’t “like” or comment on your post about how cute your daughter is, or something sweet your son said to his younger sister. It just hurts. Please don’t take offense. And if you are pregnant or have a newborn, I’ve likely unfollowed you. It’s nothing personal – just self-preservation.
Pregnancy and New Babies
On a related note, I just cannot take an interest in this truly magical time in your and your family’s lives. Your pregnancy announcement reminds me of the one I spent time planning and creating for my daughter. Your shower or sprinkle invitation reminds me of the fact that on the actual day my daughter died, I was already getting RSVPs for my sprinkle, and that I spent part of that morning planning details with my mom and mother-in-law. Personally, I do not want to be invited to showers anymore (I didn’t even attend my sister’s sprinkle that was held shortly after losing my girl). This is an opinion that loss moms definitely differ on, so please verify when making your guest list. Also, if we’re being very honest, I don’t want to hear about how hard or easy your pregnancy is, I don’t want a birth announcement, and I will probably wait a long time before seeing your baby or having any physical contact with them. I hope and pray that your baby is born healthy, and I’m happy for you in my own way – I just have to keep my distance.
Birth and Death Anniversaries
Please acknowledge these (they may be the same day)! While the day itself may be an incredibly sad one, feeling like no one has remembered or that no one really cares just makes it that much harder. I deeply appreciated the donations made in her memory and the personal notes and mementos that were received on the one-year anniversary of the day that we simultaneously welcomed our daughter into the world and said good-bye to her. I especially appreciated the birthday card sent by a fellow loss mom. My daughter will never have a birthday party or grow older, but her birthday will still be celebrated every year. The friends and family who reached out not only provided some comfort, but also acted as a reminder that our girl had, has, and will always have meaning in this world.
Talking About the Baby or Child Who Passed (And Checking on Their Mama)
On a similar note, do not be afraid to talk about my daughter! Tell me about something you saw or heard that reminded you of her, remind me of a memory of my pregnancy with her, share a hope that you had for her as she grew up. Talk to me about how you felt when you found out she was gone, and let me know that her loss was not just felt by her parents and grandparents. This loss is never going away, and while the pain and the grief may change forms, they never really lessen. I don’t break down as often as I did immediately after losing my girl, but I haven’t completely stopped doing so. I ache for my daughter every second of every day, and I will for the rest of my life. And when someone texts or messages just to check-in, I feel overwhelming gratitude, because at that moment, the journey through grief feels a bit less lonely.
So there you have it. Grief is not a one-size-fits-all, and my personal experiences and feelings may not exactly apply to you and/or the loss moms you love and care about. However, the important things to keep in mind are offering grace, understanding and a safe space for remembrance.