By Still Standing Contributor Loni H.E.
The trauma experienced by those who lose a baby is unimaginable to most. Most people won’t even allow their minds to ponder such a tragedy.
When my daughter Aisley died during childbirth, I recall an overwhelming amount of love and support being offered in the initial weeks as friends and family learned of her death.
Unfortunately, as time passed, so did the support. A few people asked me when I would start focusing on moving on.
People stopped mentioning her name. No one asked if I was okay anymore.
I found that most people didn’t understand grief and therefore didn’t know how to help.
To help bereaved parents, we need to open up the discussion around what it means to lose a baby.
We can’t change the outcome, but we can change the way we react and support bereaved parents.
I want to share five common myths about bereaved parents.
Myth #1 – If you mention our baby’s name it will remind us they died and make us sad.
Let me assure you; no one forgets that their child has died.
Not a day has gone by that I don’t think of my daughter and what she would be like today.
Losing her shattered my entire world and I often found myself wondering how the rest of the world could go on.
On the contrary, I love when people mention her or say her name.
She already means the world to me, but by mentioning her, it shows she meant something to you.
We don’t get to hear our baby’s names enough so whenever we do, it’s very special.
Related Post: We Speak Their Names
Myth #2 – We are dwelling on the loss of our babies, and it is unhealthy to continue to talk about them.
When your mother/father/brother/sister/grandparent, etc. dies, do you erase them from your minds?
Do you stop talking about them? Of course not!
It is healthy and essential for us to talk about our babies. We talk about them because they will always be a part of our family.
Even death cannot remove a parent’s bond with their child. Remembrance is an important and continual part of grief.
We don’t just accept their deaths and “move on,” we acknowledge and love them every day as we continue living without them.
Myth #3 – We are looking for attention when we mention our loss or grief.
When a bereaved parent mentions their child, they are not seeking attention for themselves, just as a parent that mentions their living child is not seeking attention.
We are expressing love.
Additionally, if someone is sharing that they are struggling with grief, they are reaching out and seeking comfort.
It’s not easy to ask for help so please offer this person love and support.
Myth #4 – We have no joy in our lives.
Indeed, there will be a pocket of sadness that I carry with me, a tear with every smile; however, I experience an abundance of joy in my life.
Sorrow and joy coexist.
Losing my daughter has taught me more about appreciating life and being present than I ever could have known before.
Related Post: Grief Is Not What You Think: Happiness Can Happen
Myth #5 – If we seem happy, we must be finished grieving.
The most precise way to explain grief is this: I will stop grieving my daughter’s death when I stop loving her, which is… never.
Simply put, there are no clear stages to grief and no end to grief. It changes as the year’s pass, but it never stops.
Just because we seem happy doesn’t mean we are all better.
Don’t forget to ask how we are doing every now and again.
The more we talk about grief, the more we can understand it.
I hope that with this understanding and compassion, we can all create a more supportive and empathetic environment for bereaved parents (and anyone grieving any loss).