I’ve come to realize that I probably put a little too much weight in others’ opinions of me. Today is a day that this realization has become more apparent. Today is meant as a time to pause and recognize the precious little souls that weren’t able to stay with us. As one of too many that have experienced pregnancy and infant loss, it’s a day that presents us with the opportunity to acknowledge our loss publically. And do you know what my fear is? That people will think I’m starving for attention if I participate and share my story. That I am “milking” my loss. Call me crazy, but I bet at least one person reading this will secretly acknowledge that those same thoughts have also passed through their minds, whether they themselves have lost, or they are observers of loss.
And what I have to say is to all of you mothers (and fathers) who have had to endure the excruciating pain of loss… you don’t need to worry. Don’t be afraid. Whether you lost a baby the day you found out your were pregnant, months into your pregnancy, or after their birth… you and the life you divinely and miraculously created deserve to be recognized. You deserve to be shown love and compassion. You deserve to speak your loss(es) aloud, without any fear of people’s judgment. I understand that there are those who prefer to keep these things more private, for various reasons. There are also those (myself included) who jump at the opportunity to share about the pieces of their family that are missing here on this Earth. And although I’m no professional, I’m here to tell you that either way is absolutely, perfectly and completely OK. Whatever works for you is all that matters, and should work for everyone else, whose opinions of you don’t matter!
So… some pieces of advice for those who have not had to suffer through pregnancy or infant loss…
1- SHOW GRACE! I promise you I’m not the only one that had insecurities about sharing my experiences. Your patience and empathy mean more to us than we can express. Support us, love us, and understand that we are doing the very best we can, given the circumstances.
2- Understand that grief never leaves. The saying, “time heals all wounds” is partially accurate, but equally as inaccurate. Yes, time does make the sting less painful. Sometimes. Ethan would be 3 months shy of 3 years old if he were with us. Many times I can think of him and smile, sometimes only feeling a hint of heartbreak. But other times, even 3 years later, his death still has a vice grip on my heart, and thoughts of him literally take my breath away, leaving me on my knees. Esme’s twin, who I strongly believe would have also been a little boy has not escaped my memories. Nor will “he” ever. So often I look at her precious little face and wonder if she feels him too. Not knowing can often times be as difficult as knowing.
3- Be awkward. Yes, you read that right. You may be worried that bringing up our loss(es) may make us uncomfortable. But nine times out of ten, I’d say we are thankful you remembered. I had a friend send me a message, just last night, telling me that Ethan had been on her mind. She hoped that my heart felt warm with God’s hug from her to me. Just typing that brings tears to my eyes. The fact that someone I rarely talk to, and haven’t spent considerable time with since high school thinks about my little boy… there simply aren’t words. So please, remember them, and tell us as much. Because we will NEVER forget them. Despite how well some may hide it. Each life created leaves a lasting mark on our souls, and we are proud to be their parents.
There is a bit of a caveat to that, I must say. If someone has just recently suffered a loss, perhaps a little time may be warranted. But if never hurts to encourage them with prayer.
For those who have suffered, and carry the weight of that grief with you every day…
*Show yourself some grace! You have experienced unimaginable loss. A piece of you is gone and you may have never even had the chance to know them. Or you were blessed with those moments and had them suddenly taken away. Either way, that leaves scars that will never heal, no matter how much you may try to cover them up.
*Be proud! With God’s help, you two have helped create a life. You took part in a MIRACLE! You now have a connection with heaven; a direct line in a way. 🙂 I’ll never forget after my dad died, and we received Ethan’s diagnosis, any earthly fear that I had about dying simply vanished. I have someone (two actually) waiting for me that I missed out on a lifetime of memories with.
*It’s OK to be private. It’s OK to be public. Whatever works for you, your heart, and your healing. Don’t put pressure on yourself to share what you consider to be personal and private. On the flip-side, and from my own personal perspective, don’t worry that you’re over-sharing your story. Your baby(ies) deserve to have their lives live on in people’s hearts and minds if you choose. Whether you’ve lost one, ten, or more… each one is priceless.
*Most importantly… remember that you are not alone. Today and every day, we are in this together. We have your back, will be here to support you, encourage you, mourn with you, and smile with you! Never forget that no matter the circumstances, God has a beautifully laid out plan, specifically for you and your life. It was written before time began and he will never let you down.
In memory of Ethan Kelly James 1/3/18 and “Baby B James” 7 weeks 5 days- August 2019.