Being Your Own Advocate
I went to a support group a few weeks ago for loss parents. One mother mentioned how she feels hurt when no one knows how to act around her, or what to say (or not to say) about her loss. I’m sure all of us can relate to feeling that at one point or another. People don’t know how to deal with the loss of a child, and they aren’t sure if you want to talk about it or not. Every loss parent is different, and honestly, every day is different too. One day you’ll want to talk all about your baby, the next you don’t want to. Some days you can do it with a smile on your face, other days you have to speak through the sobs. It’s okay that people don’t know what we want, we can’t expect them to know that. But there is one way we can help them know:
We tell them.
Related: How My Support Group Saved Me
It sucks that people can’t read minds – I’ve been trying to get my husband to do it for years – but they just can’t. I’ve found that, if I want people to talk about my babies, I have to talk about them first. People may not always include me in a conversation about pregnancy or parenting, but I’ve decided that if I have something to contribute, there is nothing wrong with me jumping in. The more I talk about it, the more people will understand that it’s okay to talk about my babies and our losses. The more I say their names, the more other people will say their names. And hearing their names, as you know, means the world.
It’s easier to have the happier (so to speak) conversations about wanting to share our babies, but conversations we don’t want to have are harder. Right after we lost Carter, I had a lot of people tell me to ask the doctor about this or that. Or had I done this or that in my pregnancy? Or people would ask if we knew why we had lost him yet. I’m not saying that any of these questions are bad. People have good intentions; they never mean to be malicious or overwhelming. But to a new mom that just lost her baby and already has crazy hormones, sometimes the questions are too much. I had to have conversations, specifically with my mom, about how some of the questions were hurtful, even though she didn’t mean for them to be. But she never would have known how they affected me if I hadn’t said anything. And thankfully, after our talk, she stopped asking, and her questions were one less source of pain on my already dark days.
Related: How to Help when the Unimaginable Happens
It’s not fair that we had to lose our babies, and it’s not really fair that we have to help others learn how to help us. But people can’t read our minds (heck, sometimes we can’t even read our own minds), and if we want things handled a certain way, we have to put our mommy pants on and ask for it.
What’s something you’ve had to ask for since your loss, and how did you find the courage to do it?