Society’s Reaction When a Baby Dies
The death of my daughter has been the most traumatic experience of my life. I’ve discovered sides of myself I didn’t know existed – both good and bad – and I’ve grown immensely as a person. I’ve changed. I didn’t know what to expect after she died. I didn’t know what was going to unfold. I thought to myself “What happens now?”
What followed and how my life changed was frankly surprising. What was most surprising was the lack of empathy and understanding from those around me. I was lucky enough to have a few friends and family who proved to be a great support system, but as for everyone else…that wasn’t the case.
I was shocked by some of the things that were said to me. I was disturbed by the indifference, insensitivity and often complete lack of compassion I encountered. Why does society react this way to the death of a baby? Why are so many people unsupportive to bereaved parents?
Just imagine if society reacted to every death the way they react to the death of a baby.
Your father passes away. Imagine if when you speak of him you’re told, “Well at least you have your mother”.
Your grandmother passes away. Imagine if every time you mention her and how much you love and miss her people cringe and say, “You should really move on”.
Your best friend passes away. Imagine if you reach out for comfort only to be told, “That’s awful, but at least you can always make more friends”.
These are the things we are told. These statements push us deeper into our grief when we are reaching out for support. It makes an already devastating situation worse. It slows our healing process.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Now imagine a society that offers unconditional support and sympathy to bereaved parents. Imagine if we could all hold each other when it’s hard and smile together as we remember (and encourage remembrance). Can we accept that grief is as much a part of life as joy?
Maybe it would look more like this…
My daughter was stillborn. When I speak of her I’m told, “I’m so sorry, please tell me about her”.
When I say that I love her and I miss her I’m told, “It’s so clear how much you love your baby. You can come to me for support any time”.
When I reach out for comfort I’m told, “I’m right here with you, is there anything I can do to help?”
This sort of shift could not only bring people together, it could quite literally save lives. Abandonment and judgment on top of already crippling grief can be unbearable. Compassion and empathy can help lift us up. I picture a society where we can all grieve openly which may allow us to cope with our losses in a healthier way. If nothing else, making sure your comments are kind and nurturing can make all the difference. It’s my wish to live in an evolved society that understands tremendous grief can only come from tremendous love.