From ‘An Unexpected Family Outing’...
I’m the lady with the dead baby.
It’s okay, I’m allowed to be so blunt because it’s my truth. I am the lady whose baby died. One day my baby was living and the next day she died. That is what happened. It doesn’t offend me if you acknowledge this.
It offends me when you don’t.
You see, I know that my baby died. I will not forget this. So, when you whisper about it like it’s a secret that feels shameful. It makes me feel like you’re embarrassed for me. I’m not embarrassed about my baby and I’m not embarrassed that she died. I’m sad that she died. It’s different.
I am allowed to be sad that my baby died. Please stop trying to cheer me up. When you respond by trying to cheer me up, it feels dismissive. Being supportive does not mean making me happy, it means sticking around even when I’m not. When you honor my emotions, you honor my child.
When I say my daughter’s name and you not-so-subtly change the subject, you are not doing so to “protect me.” You are avoiding the subject of my child because you are uncomfortable. If you were talking about your own loved one and I stopped meeting your gaze or frantically switched topics, you would be upset with me. Same.
My baby is not an awkward topic. She is a person. She is my daughter. I am not awkward about that, so why are you?
Please understand, I believe that when you do these things it is with the best intentions, but I need you to know that your intentions have a painful impact. So, while you get to stroll away with your good intentions, I am left with the hurtful impact you left behind.
I may be the lady whose baby died but you can still talk to me like you did when I was the lady who was going to have a baby. You can still say her name and let me know that you care about her. You can still ask me how I’m doing and wait around to hear my answer.
Please don’t ignore my truth, especially when I am so strongly committed to sharing it. I have not made my baby’s death a secret, so I don’t need your help in hiding her. That’s where the struggle comes from. I have to keep talking about her and saying her name because she can’t. I can’t stop because then she will disappear.
I know you want to change what happened to me. But, you can’t. I will always be the lady whose baby died. I will always be the woman who is living without her child. I am okay talking about that. Are you?
An Unexpected Family Outing / anunexpectedfamilyouting.wordpress
(Originally published- 07/11/18)