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Stillborn

 

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I don’t know why it strikes some harder than others, there’s just no rhyme or reason to it. It seems that its intensity is not governed by love or relationship alone because there are many who have loved deeply yet did not experience grief with the same crippling force. 

Nevertheless, grief is real.  Once lost in that unceasing loneliness myself, I draw from that experience when talking with those who are caught in it today.  But in my heart of hearts, I have no idea how to approach the mother of a stillborn or miscarried child. 

I’m cautious about what to say because I’ve never been where she is. There is nothing worse than some plaster saint who thinks he has the cure for a degree of agony he’s never faced.  I don’t dare pretend to understand the solitude of her pain.  

In the wake of my own loss I can relate to her emptiness and shattered expectations, but there lies a great chasm between us.  My son was with us for fourteen years, her child slipped away before she could offer an adoring hello. With the exception of those few who felt the baby kick, Mom is the only person in the world who knew the child. Their one and only interaction outside of the womb is defined by the sad reality of her irreversible loss.  

 What can I say? 

Owing to my own experience I’ve found that trying to cheer people up, telling them to be strong and persevere, or trying to help them move on doesn’t actually work. The way to help someone heal from their grief is to allow the pain run its course. I know the emotional numbness will eventually leave, but how can I be encouraging in the interim?

Much of grief recovery relies on remembering the past in a positive light. We are to take those good memories along with us as we move forward in life. No one wants their loved-one forgotten.

But in her case there is really nothing to take.

There are no candid photos capturing the child’s innocent smile or adorable character. Cute videos containing the sweet sound of an infant’s first words are nonexistent. There were no Christmas mornings or family vacations to recall.  There is only that one single horrible day of loss to remember. 

In the aftermath, she struggles to know what to do with the prenatal preparations already in place. Found concealed behind a closed door lies an unoccupied nursery. Within it stand perfectly positioned dressers stocked with neatly folded baby outfits…never worn. There’s a whimsical mobile suspended motionless above a crib…never slept in. And the grieving mom drifts through the house, sobbing softly with an unmistakable longing to hold her baby in her arms.

She must feel as if the previous nine months of her life were nothing more than a sweet dream turned nightmare.   As she attempts to pull her life back together she finds the hope for tomorrow scattered like pieces of cut film on the editor’s floor. 

No one feels the loss as she does…honestly, most don’t feel it at all. 

Friends and family cannot identify with the child they never met.  There’s no one missing from holiday gatherings, no vacant place at the table, the usual crowd is still accounted for on the neighborhood playground. Life continues on exactly as it had for almost everyone else. 

I’ve been close to this before…our daughter miscarried her first and lost her second child at birth. You would think that after losing our son I would have known what to say…I didn’t.  Experience taught me that there are no magic words. Instead of trying to take the pain away from them, I just did my best to acknowledge their circumstances and join them in it.

Maybe the best response is to hold them close and help them cry. 

My wife and I anxiously anticipated the arrival of Mya, and the joy of becoming grandparents. I saw her, held her, spoke to her, but neither she nor I had the chance to know each other. All we really have of her is a name, which when spoken will always give rise to the wonder of what life would be like today had she lived.

Time and distance eventually soften the sting of grief, but it seems there will aways remain a desire to know…

What could have been.

 

Photo by mk is Watoo on Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

16 thoughts on “Stillborn

  1. Thank you💔😫1,835 days I’ve lived my life without you… I Love you Stella Blue👼🏼💙Always & Forever Till we meet again baby girl😭Mama

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    • Rebecca, your comment is such an accurate reflection of grief. It the kind of thing we want to say out loud but often feel we can’t. Thank you for sharing.

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  2. Oh how I remember. Been 17 years. Water broke at 16 weeks. Drs. Wanted me to have an abortion but he still had a heartbeat. I refused. Appx two weeks before my baby died. I was huge showing much farther along than I was. Don’t know why. I remember after the loss I didn’t want to go ANYWHERE. I didn’t want to have to explain why I was no longer pregnant. Very very difficult time. My husband said something that I still try to apply today. He said, ” Don’t ever be ashamed of your scars”. I’ve since lost my grown son also. We will always hold and carry our children in our heart. Til we meet again….

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    • Oh Diane, I am so sorry. “Explaining why I was no longer pregnant” wow, the thought of having to explain over and over again just breaks my heart. Your husband is right about the scars, they remind us of what we’ve been able to come through in our lives and attest to the strength we posses. I am sorry you also experienced the loss of your son. Thank you so much for sharing your story.

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  3. Thank you for sharing. Today is the 28th anniversary of my sons Cameron’s stillbirth. The pain hasn’t left me yet and I doubt that it ever will. I don’t want it too for fear that I won’t keep the passion of my love in my heart for him because I don’t see him everyday. Every year on this day I cry for myself because I never got to see his eyes look up at me. 🌹 I know loss. I lost my dad at 14 and became a widow at 25. This pain is so much emptier with no memories to smile about.

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    • You certainly know loss. I am so sorry.

      Cameron’s loss is different, isn’t it? It is a level of grief that most, including myself will never fully relate to. While we all feel a level of emptiness when a loved one dies, your expression, “much emptier” without doubt more accurately describes a stillborn loss. I wish I could fully grasp it, I wish I had some genuine words of comfort to offer…

      Thank you so much for responding, especially on this day. I’m certain that Cameron would be grateful to know that he has not been forgotten.

      Blessings,

      gene

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  4. Thanks for sharing this. Today is the 28th anniversary of my son Camerons stillbirth. Every year on this day I cry for myself because I didn’t get to see his eyes looking up at me. I post a poem about stillbirth and attach his name so that he is remembered for a day. Every one has gone on with their lives and forgotten he was here and I hurt for that too. He will be remembered today if only by me. Cameron was here. He had a heartbeat for 36 weeks he lived. RIP my beautiful angel. Momma loves you

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  5. Gene, this is lovely. So beautifully written and each point, valid. I’m so sorry for your daughter and you and your wife’s loss. I honestly haven’t a clue what bereavement is like and even if I did, my experience would be different from yours. But I know life is terribly unpredictable and disappointingly unfair. It’s only just bearable with God at your side, so I cannot imagine how one copes when they have no faith. Forgive me for my ignorance, but I have only just realised about the existence of ‘Back To Tonic’.

    A friend was asking for good read recommendations and I recommended your blog. While I was searching for a relevant link to send her, I found your YouTube clip on Google. I’ve just watched it and felt the ever-present sorrow that grief brings, no matter how long ago the loss was. You did so well to hold things together while re-living the ‘add insult to injury’ travesty you suffered at the hands of the people who should have been honest with you and tenderhearted.

    I often ponder these days on how I would be if a traumatic event was to invade my life. Where would my faith be? Would I hold up under the test? I can truly say that I haven’t a clue and will never know until it happens. Like you say, we can be shocked at how far away from God we really are. That keeps me alert and keeps me grounded. I no longer expect things to turn out according to my reasoning. God is unfathomable and that truth is scary. What he will allow to happen in our lives only makes us stronger after all the pain and hurt has invaded our peace.

    Sorry about this long message…just one more thing to say…don’t be disheartened by the only 5 likes. This post is excellent and will be seen by many more people because you were not lead to write this for nothing. Apart from the 6 of us it has blessed, there are millions more who will at some point, come across this post and be encouraged by your raw honesty and wise reflections.

    I’m looking forward to catching up on all the other posts I have missed.

    Liked by 1 person

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