Friday, October 14, 2011

Thoughtless Words Can Cut Too Deep: Remembering Pregnancy and Infant Loss

In honor of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day tomorrow, Oct. 15, I thought I'd share with you a column I wrote many years ago while I was still working as a newspaper reporter.

I'll preface the column with telling you that since it was written, I have happily been blessed with two healthy, very spirited and adventurous daughters. And unfortunately have also had two more miscarriages, earlier in pregnancy than our first. The loss of our first child, discovering pregnancy complications with our second pregnancy (oldest daughter) and the incredible stress I worked under as a reporter all led me to quit my job and begin the very full life I have now.

I'm happy with the life I have and wouldn't trade my precious girls for anything. But I will always mourn the loss of my three other babies. The ache has lessened, but will always remain. I ultimately sought professional therapy to help me get back on my feet. If you are struggling for a very long time after a loss (each person is different in how long they need to complete the grief process - there is no right or wrong time frame), please don't discount this. A good, compassionate counselor can do a world of good in helping to cope with grief.

After this column ran, I was contacted by many individuals expressing their thanks. Many had never lost a child, but said they felt the same way about losing other loved ones. Many of the same words apply. I hope it touches those of you who have experienced this loss, and those of you who haven't. I especially hope it touches those of you who haven't, and it gives you a greater understanding of loss.

I’m prefacing what I am about to say with the fact that this is a column I never imagined I would write for the newspaper.

But it’s come to a point that I feel I need to write this.

I’m not writing this for pity because that’s the last thing I want. I’m writing this so some of you will think before opening your mouth, in hopes that I can save someone else the pain that has been inflicted on me so often without the person realizing it … thinking they are helping.

Many of you know, but even more of you don’t, that my husband and I lost a baby in December, two weeks before Christmas. It was our first pregnancy and I was in the beginning of my second trimester. It’s the worst thing that has ever has ever happened to me, and while the pain gets easier to handle, I know our loss will always be with us. I’ll forever be thinking of my baby in heaven, even if we are blessed with other babies.

This isn’t about all the hurtful things people said to me, being sincere and trying to say something that would make me feel better … “It’s going to be Okay” … “It was God’s will” … “Maybe there was something wrong with the baby” … “It’s not that bad” … “At least you lost the baby now instead of later” … and on and on and on.

While I know [God allowed it to happen], that’s something I had to realize on my own. While I knew in my mind that it was going to be Okay eventually, I didn’t feel like it would be Okay at the time. And it’s not Okay. My baby is gone.

And it doesn’t matter how far along someone is in her pregnancy, when she loses her baby, most of the time it’s going to be an unbearable pain that she suffers for a long time.

If you know someone this has happened to, please don’t ignore her pain, or the father’s, because you don’t know what to say or you’re uncomfortable – because it’s a real loss that needs recognition.

But please just say you’re sorry.

That you’re there to lend an ear or a hug if they want you to. You’re praying for them, thinking of them. Cry with them if you want to. But leave it at that, unless you really know what you’re talking about.

If you don’t, I can promise that more than 85 percent of the time it’s going to hurt that person more than help them.

I know people only had good intentions when they said insensitive things to me and don’t harbor bad feelings, but it really hurt.

But this isn’t about that. It’s about comments that are made, most of the time with good intentions, to someone that probably isn’t pregnant at the time.

“Isn’t it about time you had a baby?” … “Why don’t you have a baby yet?” … “Why don’t you have children?” … “You need to hurry up and catch up with the rest of us.”

Or the comments that are made if someone has gained weight but aren’t pregnant … “When’s the due date?” … “Congratulations! So when are you due?” … “I didn’t know you were pregnant!” … “Are you pregnant?”

Not that it’s anybody’s business.

I know these are usually meant to be harmless, friendly comments and inquiries. But the fact is, you don’t know what that person has been going through.

Please pay attention to this so others aren’t hurt.

How do you know you aren’t asking someone, as in my case, who recently lost a baby? Or who has been trying to have one but can’t? And if she’s not in these categories, she’s probably going to get ticked off that you’re asking a question that is personal and quite frankly none of your business.

I was in that last category for quite a while after my marriage, especially after I put on a few extra “happy pounds.”

I know all I have just said may seem somewhat harsh to some of you, but that’s not my intention. I’m not reprimanding or looking for apologies.

I just want to make people aware of a very real problem, in order to hopefully aid in someone else’s grief.

My heart goes out to all of you who suffer this pain and my prayers are with all families who experience a loss such as this. God bless you.

If you're wondering what else you can do other than the things I describe above, perhaps some food brought in their time of need would be appreciated. Casseroles like my shrimp casserole or chicken enchilada casserole (just realized to my dismay this recipe is not posted as I thought it was - will have to share sometime!) are always a favorite of mine to bring to others in times of grief or in times of happiness. Both are comforting and delicious, and can easily be refrigerated or frozen until it's needed if the person isn't able to eat it right away.


  1. Thank you for sharing these difficult events. Your post inspired me to write one as well:

  2. Thank you Caneel. Your advice and reality check are great. 19 years afrer our loss, it's still is painful.....but more bearable. Raising awareness is key. People who have not suffered this type of loss may have no idea.

  3. Cindy, thank you for sharing your story and the link. You spoke the truth.

    Johanna, thank you, and you're right.

  4. A comment not related to this article because I don't know where to post this: This weekend, I enjoyed chocolate chip, gluten-free cookies made from your recipe. thank you!!!! Awesome!

  5. Aww, so glad you liked them - thank you! You could have commented on the recipe, but anywhere is fine. :)


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