An open letter to bereaved parents:
Next week, October 15 – this community’s opportunity to commemorate pregnancy and infant loss – is both deeply personal and absolutely necessary. Remembering our babies is our opportunity to pause in our respective journeys and to consider how we integrate our experiences.
But we don’t need a formal week to reflect on our lost children, do we? We do this all the time. For this reason, I tend to use loss week and loss day as a way to allow myself to stop, cast back and reflect on my own path towards understanding and self-compassion.
Clearly, the lost was my son – first and foremost. I think about him a lot. A lot.
This month, though, I also remember the loss of who I was. Me.
Once upon a time.
Related: Who Was I Before This Grief?
And so I invite you – mothers and fathers all – to join me. Stop and rest and share. Where are you in your journey? To the recently bereaved, and those who have had children after loss, and those who are the mothers without living children – I send you my love.
There is a simple mental snapshot of the person I once was. That person is a casualty of baby loss.
I remember her.
I remember…I sat with my then two-year-old on my lap. It was an early summer evening, and the dusk promised fireflies. I was pregnant with my son. I did not yet know that I was pregnant. Nor did I know that he would be stillborn – so that our time together would be short.
It was my birthday that night, and someone raised a glass to me. I blew out the candles on a delicious cake. My friend asked me what I wished for. I think I looked around the by-then hastening dusk. There were the sounds of summer – the peepers, and the wind in the new-made leaves in the trees.
I think I was aware of not wanting to be greedy. I had my boy on my lap, a husband who loved me, a house that sheltered me, and friends who came out to spend the evening with me. I remember saying something I believed reflected more humility than it actually did.
I said that I was grateful for what I had, and that I wanted more of the same.
That is what I wished for – more of the same.
The child I was newly pregnant with then would be stillborn.
My life changed.
And that is what I think about also – that loss.
The loss of the person who – without meaning to – made assumptions about the course of things. It seemed so much simpler than it was.
In a certain hard-won way, I am almost proud of who I have become. Of course, I’d give that self-knowledge back if it could change the course of things. But…I can’t…and so therefore, I won’t.
Related: My Before Friends and After Friends
It’s complicated – but then you all know that.
I want to know how you remember your sweet one – your baby. But I’d also like to know who you were before your loss. And what you miss in that person. Let’s remember her or him too. Please feel free to comment and we’ll form, this month, the connective tissue to call up the muscle memory of loss and of redemption.