There’s a silence that follows you after you lose a child to stillbirth — an avoidance by others, a refusal to say their name that is nearly palpable. Despite the silence, my reality remains, my child is still gone.
When I first decided to brave the world after loss, I felt like Hester Prynne with a scarlet letter emblazoned on me. This meant that I was untouchable, that my child was as well. Everyone around me knew what I had been through, everyone knew but didn’t dare to cross the threshold and inquire.
Related: Please Don’t Forget About My Child
Avoidance seems to be a blanket of comfort that most use not to confront the reality that sometimes babies die — this refusal to acknowledge leaves the person who is struggling even more isolated than they had already felt. Life gets lonely sometimes, as a loss parent.
Everyone moves on as if he never existed. When counting how many pregnancies my body has experienced, my son, who happens to have been stillborn is left off the list. As if his death erased his existence within me.
When enumerating how many children I have people are taken aback when I say the number four proudly. The silence and uncomfortable gaze I receive are almost enough to make me wonder if I should have just lied. On holidays when everyone has gathered around, happily feeling a sense of togetherness, the name that is left unsaid sounds the loudest in my head.
I never forget him, even if it’s more comfortable for others to do just that.
I speak my son’s name unabashedly. I have since he left this Earth. I refuse to let the fear of making others uncomfortable stop me from forever keeping my son a presence in my life.
Despite this fact, others see my openness as a cause for concern. Ideally, I would have “moved on” by now. All the silence, all the avoidance by others has made me feel like a visitor in places that I should belong to. So, I combat this by saying his name.
My son’s name is Lennon Rhys. He was spunky, had me craving lemons, made me sick when I smelled baked goods.
My son’s name is Lennon Rhys; he was born sleeping. His memory is all I have of him, that’s why I share it still.
What’s your child’s name?
Photo by Varshesh Joshi on Unsplash