(This is one of many works on the subject of child death that I came across over twenty years ago when David died and we were subsequently involved in helping to establish the Alder Centre at Alder Hey Hospital and the Child Death Helpline. I shall probably publish a few of them in this blog from time to time. And may I take this opportunity to point out that a ‘child’ can be anyone whose parent outlives them – be they as yet unborn or 60 years old. Our love for and hopes for our children start long before they are actually born so when someone miscarries they have many of the sensations of an eighty year old who expected, in the ‘natural’ order of things, to die before their son or daughter. Although anonymous, the original writer of this was a woman.)
When my child has died, please... Don’t ignore me because you are uncomfortable with the subject of death. It makes me wonder if what happened means nothing to you.
Acknowledge my pain, even if you think it shouldn’t be as great as it is... (because I’ve ‘only’ lost a baby or one of four!)
Losing a child is one of the most difficult experiences to face and the depth of my grief will shock even me as kit returns in waves. A tremendous number of emotional and physical hurts will come my way – please don’t minimise them.
Please be aware that holidays and anniversaries will be particularly difficult times.
If you invite me for lunch (or bring a meal around (and please do) in the midst of my grief, please expect to talk about my loss. It’s all I’m thinking about and I need to talk it out; small talk neither interests nor helps just now.
Please don’t change the subject if I start to cry. Tears and talking about it are the healthiest way for me to release my intense emotions.
Telling me that So-an-so’s situation must have been much worse won’t make mine easier. It only makes me feel you don’t understand or can’t acknowledge the extent of my pain.
Don’t expect that because my child is in heaven or ‘with God’ I shouldn’t be hurting. Even the most fervent believer in God would rather have their child with them. My arms ache to hold my child and I miss him or her so much. And God might not be finding favour with me right now.
Now is not the time to tell me about your own childbirth or child’s experiences... It reminds me in the most painful way of what I’m missing.
Don’t remind me that I’m so lucky to have other children. I am and I know it. But my pain is excruciating for this child; the others don’t take that pain away. Indeed, they can add to it because I’ve got to comfort them as well.
No matter how bad I look, please don’t say “You look terrible”. I feel like a total failure right now and I don’t need to hear that I look awful too.
Don’t devalue my experience or my child – the feelings of deprivation are so intense. A child who has never breathed is nonetheless missed so if I’ve ‘only’ miscarried or my child was stillborn don’t forget he was a very special, unique person.
Please don’t suggest my child can be replaced by my having more. Would you say “Don’t worry, there are plenty more fish in the sea,” to someone who had just lost their husband?
When you ask my husband how I’m doing – please don’t forget to ask him how he’s doing too. He has also lost his child. If you ignore his hurt it suggests that his pain doesn’t exist or doesn’t matter.
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I am a 65 year old happily married man who lives near Liverpool in the UK. I'm a blogger - and nowadays that seems to be my main occupation. Rambles from My Chair is my main blog. I’m a retired local government executive - now studying how to survive a neurological disorder that gives me various problems but, hopefully, a whole new outlook on life and an increased sense of humour and perspective. There is a saying in Sweden "man måste vara frisk för att orka vara sjuk" ~ "you have to be well to cope with being ill"....
I enjoy most forms of communication and postcards are a special favourite.
Scriptor Senex is Latin for Old Writer. My real name is John but I've almost forgotten that nowadays...
“He’s not so old. He’s just the age that he is, that’s all.” (Gerald Hammond)