Open Letter to A Babyloss Mother: Part I, Grief

Dear You,

I have so much I want to tell you. I hope I can give you some help, give you some hope. Please pick and choose what you need from what I can say. And also know: I am here to listen.

First of all, and I’ve told you this already, but I really want you to remember it: You are a mother; your partner is a father. You are parents. You will question this in the next weeks or months. You will have people tell you that you are not a mother. Really awful people will say it to your face. Innocently, earnestly.

Try to avoid really awful people.

You carried and nurtured your son. He grew and thrived under your heart. It is a great unfairness — how inadequate is that word? — that he is not here, in your arms. It is the most devastating thing you will endure.

Second, grief has no timeline. Grief is a different animal when you are living inside of it. It doesn’t have steps; it doesn’t end. Other people are already moving on, and it’s because they are *just* sad. Not to minimize their sadness, but sadness is not grief. You and your partner are in a different boat. A very lonely boat.

Cry as much and whenever you need to. Someday, you will go through a day without crying, but that day may be months away. The first time I realized I had gone through most of the day without crying, I started crying. It felt like a betrayal of my son. It’s not — it wasn’t. It was a sign that I was actually healing. I didn’t want to heal. But it does happen.

When we lost Gabriel, we had a memorial service. My uncle, my father’s brother, lost a son to a car accident when the son was 22, 30-some years ago now. My uncle walked up to me, put his arms around me, and said, “You will never get over this.” And it was such a relief for me to hear that! It took away all the expectations, all the worries I had about actually, you know, getting over the death of my son.

It is survivable, as you said in an email to me. You will get through. Be gentle on yourself. Physically, too. You delivered a baby. That is hard on a body. Couple that with the emotional trauma you are experiencing, and know that you are not going to bounce back quickly, either physically or emotionally.

Two more notes about grief:

Your partner will grieve in his own way. You may not recognize it as grief. It may be hard; you may feel he is moving away from you in these early, grief-filled days. You will both do things that the other doesn’t understand. I encourage you both to try to stay connected however you can. But try not to judge each other’s grief. It’s not a contest.

And back to those really awful people. In general, people are well-meaning. I am willing to give people the benefit of the doubt. But, you will hear a lot of stupid things for awhile. If you can, try to be understanding and gentle with people who say stupid things to you. They don’t know what to say — there really are no words for what you are enduring right now. If you can’t be understanding, you have my permission to walk away, to put down the phone, to delete the emails, to unfriend them on Facebook.

Someone will ask you if you are over it yet. You will not be over it; you will never be over it. And I’ll tell you: that’s perfectly okay.

You are in my heart.

red pen mama

Trees in Winter

3 thoughts on “Open Letter to A Babyloss Mother: Part I, Grief

  1. Greetings from You’s sister. Thank you for talking to and helping her. She needs someone to lean on besides Partner. I agree with what you said about others moving on. I wish daily that someone would ask how my sister and I are doing. They think it’s sad. We’re completely devastated. While I will never feel the same grief that any of the four of you feel (my first 2 children died before the end of the 1st trimester), trust me when I say that I’m grieving, too. Not just sad, but really grieving. She joked that she didn’t need to cry because I do enough for both of us. I love that child so much. I love his parents, too. I look at his pictures all the time and long to feel him in my arms again. I get mad when I see babies or pregnant women. Why do they get to keep theirs? I try to be strong for my sister, but I feel like I fail miserably. BTW, do people honestly ask if you’re “over it”? I can’t even comprehend that someone could entertain that idea. Anyway, thanks to you and Dan for being such terrific, supportive, and loving friends to my family. We love you all.

    • Ana, I had no idea that you had lost babies before your boys. I am so sorry. And yes, it is devastating to lose a nephew, to watch you sister go through what she is going through. Please know that whatever you can provide for your sister, it will help. If you end up feeling stuck, don’t be afraid to find a therapist to help you through it. Dan and I are always here, but sometimes it’s good to have a completely objective person in the room! **hugs** You take care of you, too!

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