October 07, 2012

Capture Your Grief, Day 7: What to say.

Today's subject is a lot lighter than yesterday's. Today is about the things you should say to grieving parents. As with yesterday, this is not a one-size-fits-all thing.

  • "I'm sorry for your loss" - Always, always say this. Use it to lead into other things, reword it to suit you, but always tell a grieving parent that you are saddened by what happened to them and their child.
  • "What was his name?" and other questions you would normally ask a new parent - Any parent wants to talk about their child. It's no different if the child has died.
  • "Congratulations on the birth of your baby" - There was a baby born. The baby may have died, but s/he was born nonetheless. My favourite card we received had a heartfelt congratulations alongside their sympathies.
  • "..." - I said yesterday that saying nothing was a bad thing. I'll now admit that's not always true. Just use your silence wisely. Sit quietly as they talk about their baby. Hold them in silence as they cry. Cry with them if you must, but do not overpower their own grief.
  • "Happy Birthday!" - Obviously you don't say this to the newly grieving parents. Someone remembering Ianto's birthday is one of the few things I found that picks me up on those awful days at the end of February. Someone remembered it wrong this year (they said it on the anniversary of his death, two days early) but it still made me happy! Including him on cards to other people is something we almost always do as well.
  • "Ianto", "him", "the baby", etc. - The opposite of yesterday's last point. Always use personal nouns when speaking of someone's child. Just because he died doesn't mean he's any less of a person.
Again, these are what I would recommend for someone like me. Always use your own judgement when talking to grieving parents.

October 06, 2012

Capture your Grief day 6: What NOT to say.

There are many things a grieving parent doesn't want to hear. This is just a small sample, not a definitive list. Some of the things I found offensive may be comforting to others, and vice-versa.

  • "It was god's will" - Starting off with the big guns here. I found it rather offensive for people to say this to us, especially as we are non-religious. What kind of deity kills someone's baby? Definitely not comforting. You go on believing in your big man in the sky (or whichever deity you believe took my baby away from me) and I'll continue mourning my son.
  • Related to the above "I'll pray for you" - No thank you. I don't believe in prayer, so you're not praying for me at all. You're praying for yourself, which is perfectly fine, but don't you dare say it's for my benefit. I got angry that the funeral cards had "thank you for your prayers" on them, for goodness' sake!
  • "There was obviously something wrong, so it's just as well he died before birth" - That may be so, he might have had something "wrong" that would have killed him anyway. I have had these thoughts myself, but that doesn't give you the right to voice them. Not comforting.
  • "..." Yep, saying nothing says a lot. Breaking off friendships because you don't know what to say to me hurts. Even saying something like "I don't know what to say" before changing the subject is a million times better!
  • "You must have done something wrong" - Say this to me and I will do something wrong. I will break you. I'm the only one allowed to have those thoughts, and I have tried for two and a half years now to come to terms with them.
  • "At least you can have more children" - Even after proving that I can have more children, this hurts like hell. I love Amelia to bits, but even so I still want Ianto. I don't want to replace him with anyone, I want to have him and the rest of my kids. Similar to this, there's "just focus on the children you do have". Do you have any idea how offensive that is?!
  • "It's not like he was a planned baby anyway" - Wow. Just wow. So surprise babies are somehow less valued than those who were planned for? That's not only offensive to grieving parents, that's offensive to anyone who has either had or been a surprise baby.
  • "It", "the foetus", etc. - He has a name. If you don't know it, call him "he". If you don't know yet that he was a boy, call him "your baby" or "the baby". He was a person.
There are so many more things I could put on this list. Just step lightly when speaking to grieving parents about their dead children. Take your cues from them. Sometimes silence is the best option. Some parents may want to hear it was god's will. If in doubt, just say "I'm sorry" and let them talk.

October 02, 2012

Capturing my grief

I'm going to be participating in the Capture Your Grief photo project this month. The aim is to take a photo everyday with a different theme, all based around the loss of a baby or child.

I'll be posting all my photos through Pinterest, and each Sunday I'll blog all the photos from that week. Some of the subjects will be blogged about in between if I feel they would be better done with words than with photos.

Here are the appropriate links

Themes and explanation of the project: http://carlymarieprojectheal.com/2012/09/capture-your-grief-this-october-2012-for-pregnancy-infant-loss-awareness-month.html

My Pinterest board: http://pinterest.com/tenibear/capture-your-grief-photo-project-2012/

I look forward to sharing this with you. Please feel free to participate. Even those who haven't lost a child can do a few of the challenges, if you think about someone else's child!