An open letter to ‘Dear Abby’ about her advice on remembering a child who was stillborn
This coming Thursday, June 13, will mark my daughter Diana’s 2nd birthday. But, this birthday is a bit different than most 2-year-old’s birthdays I have celebrated.
You see, Diana is not here with us.
Two years ago, I heard those words that no one wants to hear.
“I’m sorry, but there is no heartbeat.”
I was 36 weeks pregnant, and Diana was stillborn.
Last year I struggled with what to do to celebrate her birthday. Do we have a party? Do we have a cake and sing “happy birthday?”
Do we go about our day like nothing?
I was pregnant with my rainbow baby, with a month to go. We ended up driving to Montauk (of course, it was pouring) and spending the day there.
At night, we went out to dinner with my brother, my sister in law (and best friend) and my nieces. We had a piece of cake with candles, but no singing.
Then after, we lit a paper lantern into the sky and watched it fly away (ok, it might have floated into a tree and almost started a fire, but that’s another story).
I started to think a few weeks back about what I wanted to do this year. Pregnant again, with an 11-month-old… well, it’s pretty tough.
I came across your article on a woman asking about her aunt wanting to remember her stillborn child.
I immediately felt such sadness for the writer and her aunt.
This is precisely why stillbirth is such a taboo subject.
I reread it.
My mistake; I thought this article was written 20, maybe 30 years ago.
I was wrong.
It was written this year.
How dare you “dear” Abby. To suggest the aunt seek out grief counseling, and then add the next line:
“…expect everyone to participate as if the child had lived is truly sad.”
Abby, what would you like for the aunt to do?
I’m glad you never had to hear those terrible words of, “I’m sorry; there is no heartbeat.”
I’m glad you never had to experience a truly silent birth, with no smiles or laughter.
I’m glad you never had to decide the type of clothing your daughter was to be buried in.
I’m glad you never had to decide whether to cremate or bury your child.
I’m glad you never had to decide how to answer, “How many children do you have?”
I’m glad you never had to see babies/children around the age your daughter would’ve been and hold back tears.
And finally, I’m glad you don’t have to struggle with what to do for your daughters’ birthday, as mine is no longer on Earth.
And shame on you; Crystal in Nevada. I’m truly thankful my nieces, at five and three years of age, have more empathy and tact than you will ever have.
They will always remember Diana and never think I am morbid about celebrating her life.
I suggest you try the same with your aunt.
Happy 2nd Birthday, Diana Hope.