I’ve discovered that yet another friend of mine has experienced what no parent should ever have to – the loss of their precious little baby. It doesn’t matter what age, gestation, whether there was a medical reason, or how long ago it was. It’s a cruel tragedy that no parent recovers from. It doesn’t matter if it was their first or tenth child, if it was planned or a “surprise,” or what the circumstances were. The pain is great and lasting.
I am so sorry that you, my dear friend, know this pain. I wish you didn’t.
Every time I hear that a close friend or family member has had to say goodbye to their child, it takes my breath away all over again. It’s as if I forget the statistics surrounding pregnancy and infant loss. An astronomical 1 in 4 women will experience a pregnancy resulting in miscarriage. In the US, 1 in 100 babies is stillborn. I always hope that my Lissie is the last stillborn, but the reality is that it’s more common than we think. It becomes all the more real when we hear of someone near and dear to us walking the same path we do.
If only we were the last ones to bury our baby. If only they did not have to experience this. If only the suffering began and ended with me. Or better yet, without me. How about not at all?
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There is no way of comparing losses. I see it all the time, though. We try to justify our grief by setting it against someone else’s loss. As if our pain should be more (or less) than the other person’s due to certain circumstances surrounding their experience, i.e. how long they’ve lived, how far along the pregnancy was, the severity of the medical condition, if a choice to terminate had to be made, etc.
The truth is, we’re all going through our own personal hell without our child. Even if we walk the exact same journey as another person, our personalities and character differences mean that we will never experience grief in the exact same way. Our perception of grief and loss is the only measure we have. And we can’t use our measure in judgment against someone else’s grief and loss. It’s simply unfair.
We can only be sympathetic and sensitive to another’s suffering and aching. Try to understand that we are all agonizing and pining for the child that should have been and the heartbreak we’re left with. So let’s stop comparing the intensity and significance of our losses. They are all intense and significant to each of us. Instead, let us offer grace and kindness in the way we speak and care for each other on the road to healing.
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I am thankful you’re sharing your story, despite how vulnerable that might make you feel. I’m glad you shared your baby’s photos because he is beautiful and should be shown to the world. I am so sorry we find ourselves here. I’m breaking all over again with you, that you can’t pack his toys away, or update wardrobes as each year passes, and instead have all his belongings in one tiny box. I am so sorry that you laid him in a coffin and not in a cot beside you.
I’m hoping that your voice joins the many of wailing others who strive for awareness around this kind of devastation. I hope your voice never dies down. I hope you continue to cry out with pride to honor him. To lament, to weep, to laugh, to bless, to inspire, to educate, to tell stories, and to say his name. You are not alone, dear friend. Us too.
Photo credit: Erik Witsoe on Unsplash