12 February 2012
"I know how you feel, my dog died" and other things not to say to someone who gave birth to a dead baby.
I am not sure if I should publish this post.
I actually wrote it more than 6 months ago, but I thought it sounded a bit mean and insensitive so I never posted it, but Ill try and write without sounding too ungrateful.
There are a few things that people say to me when they find out about Grace that really annoy me. Like, annoy me to the point where sometimes I think I might slap the next person that says it to me. I always smile and say thanks, but I think to myself "Who the hell says that? I just told you my baby died and you said THAT" !!??!
Tom always reminds me that I can not get upset because no one means to upset me, they are trying to empathise with me and make me feel better. And Tom and I have always said that if it had happened to someone else, we would have no idea what to say, I mean what do you say? There are often no words.
But still there are a few things that people say to me all the time that annoy me.
The thing I get most often is "Oh well, at least you are still young". Now, if I am talking about infertility, then sure, I'm very lucky I'm still young but in response to learning that my daughter died!? When people say this they are reassuring me that I have plenty of time to have more children, but they are missing the point completely. It does not matter how many more children I have there will always be a great big Grace shaped hole in my life. Full stop.
The other thing that people say is "I'm very sorry, I understand how you feel.. my dad died last year". I know this sounds insensitive but parents are supposed to die before you.. Your children are NOT. There is something fundamentally wrong with the world when you bury your own child. I know this sounds cruel, I'm sure losing a parent is awful (My dad got given 2 months to live almost two years ago and I have watched him get worse day by day) but I just can not imagine that it is anything like losing a child.
Alot of people like to tell me that "everything happens for a reason". This is fine to say to someone if they have lost their car keys or missed their bus on the way to work, but really? The whole medical profession can not find a reason my baby died, but you think there is? Oh good for you. I think the only people who believe this are people who have never suffered any real tragedy in their lives.
And lastly (and this one might make me very unpopular), is that people say "I'm so sorry, I know how you feel.. I had a miscarriage last year". Now, the ONLY reason I can write this is because I had two miscarriages before Grace died and I can tell you that having a miscarriage is nothing like having a stillborn baby. NOTHING.
I know this sounds so awful to say and I am really not trying to take anything away from people who have suffered a miscarriage. I know that when I had mine they were devastating, heartbreaking beyond belief. At the time I thought it was the worst kind of pain. But then I went through hours of excruciating labour and gave birth to a dead little girl who I got to hold in my arms and that was a pain unlike anything else. The kind of heartbreak that makes you wonder if you can go on living. If you can go on breathing. If you will ever survive.
So there. I said it.
I really hope that I don't sound like I am dismissing other people's loss as nothing. I don't mean to take anything away from people who have experienced a loss and I know that it is soo hard to know what to say. But people, things like "My dog died last week" or "Oh, you mean you had a stillborn, that's okay.. I actually thought you had lost a living child" or (when I returned all the baby clothes I had bought) "Well, at least you get some nice new clothes for yourself" are not cool things to say. Not cool.
This is a photo of Grace's coffin. It was taken exactly one year ago on this day. Sitting in the funeral parlour choosing a baby sized coffin while stuffing tissues down my bra to try and control the milk leaking from my boobs (the milk that was supposed to be nourishing my little baby) was the lowest moment of my life.