Have you ever noticed how OBSESSED people are with babies? I mean really, think about it for a sec… People will speak to a baby before they speak to that kid’s parent. They will ask you when you’re going to have children if you’re partnered and why you haven’t “settled down to have some kids yet” if you’re not partnered. People meet you and automatically want to know if you have children. People meet teenagers and ask them if they want a family some day. People are freaking obsessed with other people’s reproduction and frankly, it’s a little creepy how many people asked about my womb before I actually had babies.
The interesting thing is though, everybody wants to talk about the baby… until the baby dies. Then, CRICKETS!!! People avoid you like the plague, they ask about any and everything else besides your loss or that child, they rush you along to “try again” or try to be semi-encouraging saying “it’ll happen again”. Too often there is a glossing over of the life that was lost and this is not necessarily at the direction of the parents. More often than not, the parents would prefer people acknowledge the little one or at minimum, acknowledge the grief surrounding the loss. As a result of people feeling so uncomfortable with death and grief, they tend to just avoid discussing it in some weird Kubler-Ross Denial Stage of Grief kind of way.
Guess what? This usually isn’t helpful folx! Guess what else? It might mean that YOU have to be the one to initiate conversations about your little angel baby or at least, tell others it’s ok to bring them up when appropriate. Now, I’m not saying in the middle of Xmas dinner you should make an announcement giving the green light to discuss the loss. Timing is crucial so I’m going to give you some examples for yourself and that you can share with your loved ones about how to go about this in the right way.
Here’s What They Can Say…
- Little [insert living child’s name here] has an angel sibling watching out for them (if you want to be gendered, you can say sister or brother, and if you’re religious convictions are strong, you can say Heaven)
- “I was thinking about you & your family during this time…thinking of all of you, including your angel or lost little one (llo)”
- Say their names! Add the llo’s name to the holiday cards, use their name in conversation if asking about them or referencing them.
- Count the llo in with the number of children you reference for someone else. Don’t exclude them by only counting the living children.
Here’s What You Can Say…
- I have ‘X number’ of children (living + llo’s)
- When asked if subsequent children are your “first”, you can say, “my first living, I have “x amount” in heaven/who passed away/etc.”
- Use your children’s names! If you haven’t given them a name, I encourage you to do so in some way. Even if that means you just refer to them by the size they were when they passed. Call them something & make it meaningful. It’s powerful.
- When someone asks how you’re doing, it’s ok to say, “I’m having a rough day dealing with the loss of [llo’s name]”.
- Talk about your llo. They were and are part of you and part of your family. They deserve mention where relevant and appropriate just like any other family member.
Someone asked me, “well Jeanae, what do you want people to say? I mean, what would be helpful?” I took the opportunity to liken it to the loss of any other loved one in a family. Think about it for a minute. If your aunt, uncle, grandparent, parent, sibling, cousin, etc. died, does your family just NOT talk about that person anymore? I guess it’s possible and I even know in some cultures, you are not supposed to speak the name of the deceased; however, usually people still talk about these folx. People still share stories about their lives, comment on what they might have liked in the present, or what they may have been doing at a given moment. I have an aunt who passed away a while back and we still find ourselves saying things like, “Sharon would’ve loved this!” Sure, it does remind my family for that instant that she is no longer here, and sure, it does bring on a twinge of sadness sometimes. You know what else? It also brings on smiles and laughter at times. You don’t have to only connect with your llo through your grief. You can do it through laughter, honor, acknowledgement, and integration too!
If you think about the crazy discrepancy between obsessive-like talk about babies and pregnancy, and the radio-silence that occurs when that life is no longer, it’s really ridiculous. From an angel-parent perspective, it feels like people either forgot about your llo, don’t care to talk about what happened, or are just too shook to put their own feelings aside to ask about the elephant in the room (your grief). It feels like they only want to talk about the “happy” and frankly, there’s a lot of “unhappy” that can and does occur around family creation. This glorification of ‘everything coming up roses’ really contributes to angel parents’ feelings of loneliness, depression, isolation, and anger. We gotta do better y’all. We gotta do better for our littles, for our loved ones, for ourselves.