Ok, so maybe limiting it to just moms and non loss moms is a bit of an understatement. I think a more appropriate title might be “What Loss Parents Wished Everyone Who Has Ever Been Lucky Enough To Never Experience A Loss Understand…And What They Wish A Few Fellow Loss Parents Would Too”. But, for the sake of available space, I’ll stick with what I’ve got.
Recently I started a new Facebook group, Love Echoes Forever-TTC After Loss. The TTC journey after loss is so unique, that I thought a group that was centered around the emotional roller coaster was needed. One of the first questions that I asked the ladies who joined was…”What do you wish people understood the most about loss?” This blog post is dedicated to the remarkable women who answered the question & is about the 3 biggest topics brought up.
One of the biggest things I’ve noticed, and one that was mentioned in group as well, is one for everyone to understand…loss & non loss. I don’t understand why, but for some reason we live in a society where every thing is compared and measured and ranked. And while I am not one to agree with little leagues that don’t keep score, because life keeps score and it’s just as important to learn how to win as it is to learn how to lose…score keeping doesn’t always have a place in life. One loss is no less significant than the next. A loss at 5 weeks is no less of a loss than at 35 weeks. You still the lose the dreams of birthday cards, Christmas excitement, first words, first steps, first days of school…last days of schools. Hearing a heart beat, being able to determine gender does not…I repeat, DOES NOT change the fact that your entire world is turned upside down and wrong side out because in a moment you lose the entire dream of who that baby might have been. It amazed me when I lost my daddy how many people told me how sorry they were that I lost him at such a young age. I was 34 he was 2 days shy of 60. I was also told by a few people to basically get over it already since I was an adult…I was lucky I had the time with him. The fact of the matter is, it doesn’t matter at what age you lose a parent-the loss is never gonna be easy, it’s always be a hole in your heart, it’s going to change everything in your life. Losing a pregnancy is the same way. It doesn’t matter at what age, it’s a loss that will forever change your life. Regardless. A loss is a loss. So, let’s just make a pact now to not compare one to another in an attempt to make one worse or better. One is not lucky while one is unlucky. A loss is a loss…there is no scale.
Just like with anything lost, there is no replacement. It will never matter how many children you eventually go on to have & hold, there will always be a little piece missing. And it’s not that you aren’t appreciative and grateful for every single blessing that God has given you. No, in fact, you are probably more appreciative than anyone can possibly imagine. You know what you’ve lost and how precious and fragile what you have is because of that loss. But at the same time, you aren’t mourning because OPI discontinued a nail polish color that you really liked and no one is making that particular shade. You are mourning a child, your child. The best way I can think to describe it in a way that everyone can relate is when you lose a friend. Not necessarily due to death, just not in your life anymore. You know that friend that you had the late night chats with, the one who would laugh at the dumbest things with you? You will never replace them. You will always…even if you go on to find 10 other amazingly beautiful people who you are lucky enough to call a best friend in your life…you will ALWAYS look back to those memories of the friend that you once had. You will always miss the laughter they brought you, even though you have a ton of laughter in your life. You will always wish for that smile to shine on you one more time, even though you are surrounded by love. It’s not that you’re greedy, or unappreciative. You are not wanting ALL the smiles in the world…just the ones that have touched your life and are no longer there. And there will never be anyone to replace that friend, because there is no way to replace that person. There is simply someone else now who also shares a piece of your heart. So please understand that when it comes to children, whether rainbows (babies born after loss) or sunshines (babies born before loss), it will never matter how much laughter fills a house in the early morning hours…there is always going to be a little bit of a quietness that echoes because loss parents know there should be just a little bit more noise. And it’s not that they aren’t thankful for the noise they hear, they just know it should be a little louder.
Pregnancy and infant loss seems to still be such a taboo thing to talk about it. It’s treated in 3 ways, it seems. Like it shouldn’t be brought up because it will cause too much pain or uncomfortableness for the asker, or like we are contagious and should “it” be brought up we will somehow give it to you, or just completely open conversations when support is needed. I really wish it was always the latter. Loss is a part of life. We can’t avoid it. And sadly, people seem so ready to give support and understanding for just about any type of loss…just not pregnancy and infant loss. And that makes it that much more isolating. Because people are afraid of upsetting a loss parent, they don’t always ask how they’re doing. Because it’s something that isn’t commonly talked about, people aren’t sure how to approach the subject of an angel. It’s so easy for people to imagine how hard it is to cope with that type of loss, they are worried that by asking about the loss, they will bring up horrible memories and a ton of pain. And sometimes…not gonna lie…it absolutely will. BUT, that’s not unlike asking how anyone is doing after a loss of any kind. Not every conversation is going to be a sad one. Just today, on our way from a day out, the hubby and I talked about how similar I was to my daddy when it came to driving…and that led to stories, which led to happy memories. A few weeks ago we were talking about how much I miss him and that led to tears. But the fact that I had someone to talk to and support me through both sides of the spectrum was what I needed. And when I’m in a particularly vulnerable place and I think talking about my losses will just absolutely push me over the edge, I don’t talk about them. So please, if you know a loss parent…don’t be afraid of mentioning what they’ve gone through, of asking how they’re doing, of asking about what it’s like and if they need support or just love through it. Regardless of how long ago it happened. It helps to know that we aren’t the only ones who remember our babies existed, however briefly.
It’s just a start, I know…but, sometimes just a little understanding can make a world of difference.