One of the most frustrating ‘comfort lines’ I have had to learn to ignore over the last 13 months since my son died, is that someday, I will get my rainbow.
I think it’s bordering on being one of the most annoying things to hear, for 3 reasons:
1.) Quite frankly, there isn’t always a rainbow at the end of a storm.
2.) Even if there was a rainbow at the end of every storm, that doesn’t lessen the devastation the storm caused.
3.) My son is not ‘a storm.’
Telling somebody that ‘one day your rainbow will come’ is a preconceived notion that every single bad thing to ever happen to a person has a happy ending. Some. just. don’t’.
That isn’t me being pessimistic, that is one thing I want to stress. That’s just the way it is – it’s a ‘fact of life’, so to speak. Sometimes, bad stuff happens to good people & there is nothing to make it better. Sometimes, people just have to learn to live with the hand they’ve been dealt and there is nothing to come along to ease that pain.
Sometimes, there isn’t a bright and colourful beam of light to appear in a person’s life. Sometimes, a storm happens and it’ll eventually turn in to a light drizzle, then it’ll be dry for a while, then it’ll rain again, and the sun will shine in between, but it won’t create a rainbow.
And some people will muddle through the storm and the rain and the sun the best they can, never seeing that beam of colour across the sky; never receiving that beam of hope.
And I think that needs to be okay with people, too.
I think one of the reasons people say that sentence to those who have lost a baby is because they want to try and bring some kind of hope; they want to try and ‘fix’ it. You cannot fix it. Losing a child is not a broken leg or a bad day, it changes your life in its entirety and I don’t believe you ever go back to the person you were before. The truth is, while many people DO, there are some people never go on to have another baby after they have suffered a loss.
I personally don’t like the term ‘rainbow’ … while I know it brings comfort to a lot of loss parents who go on to have another child, it just does not comfort me at all. My stillborn son is my youngest child. I haven’t yet had another baby.
But the thought of my son being referred to as a ‘storm’ is heart wrenching for me. I don’t believe he is a storm.
He is a beautiful little being who brought light and love to the world, and my life. Losing him caused utter devastation, but the love he left behind far outweighs that pain. He isn’t a cloudy day; he isn’t unforgiving rain; he isn’t a tornado; he isn’t the thunder and lightening. He is the tiny beam of light that seeps through the cracks between the clouds during those storms. He is my light.
I am surrounded by people who know that their deceased baby will be remain their youngest. I know people who have been told that they will not be able to have more children, and people who simply do not want to, for fear of history repeating itself. Those people do not need to be told that ‘one day their rainbow will come’ because they already know it won’t, and they will already be trying to come to terms with that without the added punch-to-the-gut of people making assumptions that they will.
This thing we call ‘life’ is not a fairy-tale. There isn’t always a happy ending.
Sometimes the ‘ending’ is one of acceptance.
So what do you say to a loss parent?
‘I am sorry to hear about your loss. This is not fair on you; no one deserves to lose their baby. I want you to know that I am here for you. Please, do what you need to do to get through this. Grief is as individual as a finger print and you need to do it your way. I cannot fix this, nor will I try, but know I’m with you every step of the way.’
‘Your baby is beautiful, what is his/her name?’
‘Let’s celebrate your child.’
Simply acknowledge their baby.
The innermost fear of most loss parents is that their child will be forgotten. Other people fear that saying a deceased baby’s name will remind his/her parents they are gone. Saying my son’s name will not remind me that he is dead, it will show me that you remember him.
And that … that is a beautiful thing.
Otis Dominic Anthony Cullen; born without breath, not without love. Missed beyond words, loved beyond measure.