Anyone who has lost a baby knows the story. One day you are pregnant and awaiting the most significant moment of your life. Then without warning, everything changes.
No longer are you looking forward to life with a new baby.
Instead, you are looking behind you and wondering how you will ever move forward.
Gillian Brockell knows this story. She spent several months looking forward to January 2019 when her son, Sohan would be born.
Instead, in November she learned the devastating news that Sohan would be stillborn after passing away in utero.
Instead of learning the ins and outs of parenting, Gillian and her husband, Bobby found themselves in deep mourning over the loss of their son.
To distract herself from moments of heartbreak, Gillian did what so many of us do.
She searched for a distraction, and in doing so, she turned to social media.
But instead of a reprieve from her heartbreak, Gillian found herself facing an endless scroll about what she was now missing.
Her social media was filled with advertisements for maternity clothes and baby gear.
So, Gillian Brockell wrote a letter. In it, she implored tech companies to fine-tune the technology that goes into personalizing our social media feeds.
Parents of pregnancy and infant loss have the same question –
If companies have the technology to figure out that a woman is pregnant, why can’t that same technology identify when that pregnancy ends?
It doesn’t seem that hard.
We all know that Facebook and Amazon use our search history and viewing preferences to curate a social media experience that matches up with our life experience.
For example, after spending an afternoon online shopping for onesies and researching baby names, it is commonplace to find a Facebook feed inundated with ads for cribs and car seats.
These companies use common keywords to make an educated guess at what’s going on in your life.
Words like “pregnant” and “newborn” suggest that a baby is on the way.
So why don’t keywords like “miscarriage” and “stillbirth” alert these same technologies that something has changed?
In her letter, Brockell points out that there are options for opting out of these painful reminders.
But she also wonders–why must this be the responsibility of the newly grieving parents?
Gillian is not alone.
She is not alone in her experience of stillbirth.
She is also not alone in having to face the world after losing her baby–a world that is rife with painful reminders of what should have been and will never be.
Parents who have experienced the loss of a baby or a pregnancy deal with these reminders daily.
They show up in the form of Facebook advertisements, formula samples in the mail, and baby registry reminders in your email.
And they don’t just show up a few times or for a few weeks after the loss.
Grieving parents can face years of these provocations; never knowing when they will arrive in their inbox or on their doorstep.
That is why grieving parents everywhere are resonating with stories like Brockell’s.
They know firsthand the hurt that is caused by companies and corporations who only seem to care about stories with a happy ending and a living baby.
Maybe, just maybe, we can change this the way our loss community has already changed so much about how our experiences are talked on and thought of.
We at Still Standing Magazine want to hear if this story resonates with you – with your loss(es) and experiences with companies that market baby products. Perhaps you’ve been contacted with a kind of advertising or marketing you’d never thought you’d have to deal with after your child(ren) died. If you want to share, leave a Facebook comment, a blog comment below – or if you’d like us to consider your story for publication, send it to us via our Write For Us page.
Rachel Whalen is a mother, wife, and Kindergarten teacher from Barre, Vermont. Her life’s work is to keep the memory of her daughter, Dorothy, alive through words both spoken and written. Rachel shares her family’s journey through loss and all that has come after on her blog: An Unexpected Family Outing.