Society’s Reaction When a Baby Dies

April 18, 2014

Loni H.E.

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.

 




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    Loni

    Loni is a writer, artist and frequent volunteer, all of which has helped her in her journey through grief. She and her husband lost their first-born daughter, Aisley, at 41 weeks during childbirth on August 5th, 2012. In January 2014 she gave birth to Aisley's brother, Meyer, who will know all about his beautiful sister. She is a better mommy to him because of Aisley.

    2 Comments

    • Helen Kennan

      April 20, 2016 at 6:06 pm

      I have encountered this a lot since the death of my 16 week old son. I was informed by a friend that a teenager’s funeral was by far the worst they had ever been to, even knowing that they had been present for Haydon’s.
      I’ve been advised to adopt, to have another, and all the at leasts you can think of, in particular, at least you have your dogs. My dogs I love, but they are not my son and never will be a suitable replacement and I cannot have another child medically nor do I want a replacement,

      I have lost 4 children in total, and Haydon was my only living birth, and he couldn’t stay. There is no at least, and no grief like this. My husband and I live every day without our child, and it seems mainly understood only by those who have experienced this loss, rarely acknowledged by others for the grippling grief that it is.

      I hope society changes for all of us. Love <3

    • Melody

      April 21, 2016 at 6:02 pm

      Thank you SO much for sharing this. I felt and still do about the pain of losing your baby, your identity, your dreams and hopes as parents; and then all the other losses and disappointments around my “family and friends”. It is so very difficult, frustrating and heart breaking to go through pregnancy loss and not getting the support you need especially from those who you thought you could depend on. Like where’s the unconditional love when we’re grieving. It is painful to hear those “cliches” or platitudes ~ though it seems to be coming from a good place, I guess, it still feels like a lack of empathy, compassion & support.
      I totally agree with everything you shared. I’m learning a lot about myself since our loss – good and bad, I definitely changed, my eyes are bigger and my mind and heart has opened to more positive I found from strangers. Interestingly enough. I felt that abandonment and it’s not helpful when your already in a traumatic situation. I could go and on. But I was angry about the judgements and misunderstanding people had about me. Now, I’m making new friends and getting the support that I needed so much. It’s been 2 years since our first born passed. I will never “get over him and move on”.

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