I know for many, the death of a child, an infant, the loss of a pregnancy is unthinkable. Unfortunately for many, it is a reality. After I lost my first baby, Alex, at full term, I was shocked to find out how many women suffered such loss-the latest estimates state there are at least 100 stillborn babies in the United Stated every single day.
Yet, it’s a loss that nobody talks about. Here’s an excerpt from my book “Losing Alex” (available at Amazon) where I explain how hard it was for me to find any book that talked about this kind of loss:
“This was 1995; the internet was not what it is today. ‘Online’ shopping was still something that would not take off for several years. If I wanted to find a specific book, I had to search the yellow pages for book stores, thrift stores, used stores and so on. I recall finding a rather large used book store with literally thousands if not millions of books… I am not exaggerating either! This store was gigantic; I never saw such a large collection of books, even bigger than a library. They had a ‘grief’ section and I did find a couple of grief books there, a handful were about miscarriages, but still nothing specific about stillbirth. Come to think of it, I could not even think of a movie or TV shows where they had a baby die, with the sole exception of a couple of episodes of “Little House on the Prairie” and perhaps soaps. I was beginning to understand this was truly “the” unspeakable loss, “the” invisible loss, a loss so great nobody wanted to talk about it; a loss so inconceivable and so horrible that many people declared it as being the most overwhelmingly painful experience of their life; the death of which they were least prepared for. I was beginning to understand. My grief was colossal and all-encompassing. No loss is more difficult to accept and feels more unnatural and less understood.”
On May 17th a movie aired on the Lifetime Channel (the DVD will be released June 17th) titled Return To Zero, starring Minnie Driver. This movie spoke to me in ways not many can possibly grasp, with the sole exception of those that lived my nightmare. Because… it was a nightmare. Here’s the trailer for the movie below…
I know many often wonder “when” I’ll get over it. The answer is never. I am OK with that, and I am OK with the grief, because, in a way, it’s all I have left of him.
Just 2 years ago, while transferring old videos from 8mm to digital, I came across the videos taken of Alex and a rush, a HUGE rush of grief came over me and enveloped me like a blanket. It’s not something I can control. Grief is not something you can decide not to feel anymore. It just is. It’s been 19 years since Alex died and I still can’t believe this happened. Yet I don’t want people to think I have not moved on or I have not ‘let him go’. I let him go a long time ago, I let him go when I handed him back to the nurse for her to take him to the morgue, knowing I would never see him again.
Here’s the list I have on the back of the book on How to Help Bereaved Parents.
My book, Losing Alex, is available now for the Kindle and it’s only $2.99.
If you ever have a friend or a relative lose a child, please remember the following:
1. Send a card or/and flowers. Truly, it’s the least you can do. I would even go as far as saying to send a gift of some sort, an angel, a book, a Christmas ornament, just put your thinking cap on. Do it.
2. Don’t expect them to ‘get over it’. The loss of a child, whether an adult child or an infant, is not something you ‘get over’. It is something you learn to live with.
3. Don’t ask what you can do for them, or tell them to call you. They won’t. Pick up the phone and call, or pick a thing to do for them and do it. Bring dinner, mow the lawn, make a contribution to the funeral or medical bills, help clean the house, run errands for them, anything, really.
4. Listen – The best gift you can give a grieving parent is your listening ear. Let them express their feelings – the questions, the disbelief, the anger, the pain and even the guilt they may be experiencing.
5. Don’t avoid them like the plague. You cannot ‘catch’ their bad luck. Invite them to lunch, take them to the movies, go to the mall with them, let them talk and cry. They NEED you.
6. Go to the funeral. You have no idea how important that is. It does not matter what you have to cancel or if you have to take part of the day off from work. It’s two hours of your day they will forever be grateful to you for.
7. Recognize that grieving has no time limit and varies from individual to individual both in the way they express their grief and the time required to stabilize.
8. Respect their grief. Treat the parents and give them the same sympathy that you would show for the death of an older child.
Love & Light,