Those of us who have been through child loss know as well as anyone the power of a moment in time. Grasping those moments with the child you know you may not have long, and trying to survive in the meantime and the after. It’s so easy to slip into a depressive cycle after losing your…
Who has it worse?
“At least you knew ahead of time, so you could prepare. I had my nursery set up, all the clothes purchased and the car seat in my car. I went to the hospital fully expecting to take my baby home and then she died.”
I didn’t know how to respond.
In my head, I screamed, “At least I knew? Are you kidding me?” Yes, I knew. Every single day for months I lived in constant anguish and fear that today was going to be the day he’d die. The day I’d have to say goodbye forever, for no reason whatsoever, because of a “fluke” condition that was stealing our son’s life. I also had his nursery set up, his clothes purchased, an his car seat in the car (because a mother never gives up hope). “No amount of ‘knowing ahead of time’ can possibly prepare you for the death of your baby!!!” And, in turn, “At least you got nine blissful months of pregnancy!!” (You see how no good comes from these types of conversations?) But I simply said nothing, knowing no amount of me trying to explain to her the trauma of carrying a baby with a fatal diagnosis would change her opinion that experiencing an unexpected stillbirth was “worse”.
I think we’ve all been there. In a conversation where someone tries to tell us our experience is “not as bad” as another type of loss. Sadly, I think it’s especially true for those who have suffered an early miscarriage. You hear people say horrible things like “At least you didn’t get to know them. At least you weren’t farther along” and other utter nonsense.
And then there’s the whole “My child died before birth” vs. “My child died at birth” vs. “My child died at age five” vs. “My child died at age 30” debacle. Or the “That’s sad your baby was stillborn, but my son died of SIDS” vs. “Your daughter died because of cord issue? My daughter was in a car accident” or “Your babies were lost in the womb, but my twins had cancer” competition. Imagine thinking any one of those nightmarish circumstances are easier than the other! (I mean, is there a “good” way for a child to die? Absolutely not!) Yet, while many people won’t say it out loud, I believe most people have some idea of what situations they believe are “worse” or “better” when it comes to loss and grief. It’s insanity, I know, and there is no good outcome to such a debate. But it’s human nature to compare situations.
Instead of trying to decide on our own, let’s go ahead and end this once and for all, right here and now.
Who has it worse?
The answer is this: You have it worse. I have it worse. Every person who has ever uttered the words “and then he died”, or “she died soon after”, about their child, has it worse. You know why? Because no one on earth will ever hurt the exact way you hurt over the death of your child. No one. No one else has the exact relationship you had with your baby, and no one else can feel the exact pain you feel every day as you survive without them.
So, let’s end the debate. Let’s stop the insanity. When someone tells you their story, accept that it’s as bad as it can possibly be for them. There is no need to try to convince them it could be worse. That’s absurd! Their experience is the worst because it’s their child they have to live without for the rest of their life.
No matter how it happened, our children died and we’re still here. And it just doesn’t get any worse than that, no matter what.