Stupid things that people say.

I know there are a million and one posts on the internet about what not to say to a bereaved parent. And I don’t have much more to offer, but I thought I would share my personal experiences. In no particular order:

How are you?
While the question itself really isn’t that bad – sometimes it’s actually quite nice when people ask such a simple question – nobody ever wanted to hear the answer, and this is why I couldn’t stand people asking. If I said I was anything worse than good, most people would just go silent and change the topic. Even just ‘okay’ was not an acceptable answer. Sometimes people would try to convince me that I was, in fact, good. Nobody wanted to actually talk about how I was feeling unless I was feeling great, which clearly I wasn’t. I ended up telling everyone not to ask unless they were prepared to hear that I wasn’t as great as they wanted me to be. I have been asked precisely twice since then.

You are so strong!
I’m really not. I have to go through this pain and survive somehow. Crumbling to pieces and refusing to function aren’t very appealing options, although I don’t feel like I’m doing much better than that anyway. Don’t marvel at how “strong” I am – I’m just trying to cope in any way I can.

You can still have more kids or Are you going to try again?
Yes, another baby would be a blessing – but it is not some sort of consolation prize for losing the ones I already had and so desperately wanted. Another baby will not replace my sons, and having another child will not make me suddenly forget my sons or feel better about losing them. Nothing will ever take away the pain of not being able to watch my sons grow up.

Everything happens for a reason.
No. Shut up. There is no acceptable reason for my sons to have had their lives taken from them. End of story.

They’re in a better place.
Personally, I believe the best place for my sons is probably here with me. I do like to believe they’re somewhere lovely, looking down on us and smiling. But I can’t believe that that place is better than getting to experience life and the love I have for them.

(Insert name here) just had their baby safely.
For some reason, everyone felt the need to inform me that their friends or relatives had just had a healthy baby. Why, thank you! Thank you for letting me know that someone I don’t know or care about now gets to experience everything I don’t. Thank you to my mother-in-law, for informing me that some cousin of yours that my partner and I had never met had just become a grandmother and her grandchild was born safely. Thanks dad, for letting me know that somebody in town had just had their seventh child, and then going on about how amazing it was that she had seven children; while I sat there with my own empty arms. I don’t even know these people, and I don’t really care to hear their good news when mine is nothing but sad.




5 thoughts on “Stupid things that people say.

  1. Arg, all of these comments really bothered me, and still do. I was talking to a friend about our baby the other day and she said, “it wasn’t meant to be”. WHAT? He WAS meant to be, his life and death was meant to be how it was. Some people are so insensitive. Hang in there, they don’t mean it to be mean, they simply don’t know what to say.

  2. I read this and it resonated with me and my life right now. It is so spot on and well written. I am so terribly sorry about the loss of your sons. I know SIDS is different to stillbirth but I know we are bound by the same tragic loss. It’s heartbreaking and life is utterly unfair. I know you’re not ok so I won’t say I hope you are ok but I do hope, and wish you, gentle days ahead. From another bereaved mum, Jen x

  3. Oh my- the one about how someone had their baby safely! YES! or they want to tell you about someone else who is pregnant. As I left the geneticist after speaking for an hour about our baby’s autopsy report, he felt the need to tell me about how my genetic counselor was pregnant. what?!? why?

    the how are you- I think I’ve gotten my point across when today a colleague called and asked “how are you” but then caught herself and said “I feels so dumb every time I say that…sorry.” small successes!

    you are so strong drives me crazy too. like doing what we’re doing is a choice, right?

    intentions are good but many things still smart.

  4. The how are you thing bothers me too. No one ever wants to hear anything other than great. No one ever wants to talk about baby loss unless you’ve experienced it and I think that in itself is a tragedy.

  5. Yeah, these things are hard. Our society doesn’t know how to deal with pain, death, loss, etc. We don’t need trite little answers about why; we need people who are willingly to walk with us the darkness of this mystery, and keep holding our hands while we search for hope. And hope is there, but it’s a complicated journey. We don’t feel strong; we just have to keep going. We’d rather not do it alone. Anyway, this is how I feel after my baby loss.

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