Losing a Baby is Universally Painful
I recently had a visit by a distant family member. She was admiring my home and looked at my family photos displayed on the wall. The first is a photo of Ruth, my first daughter, born 13 weeks premature in 1991. She is hooked up to a ventilator and her dad's hand is in the picture, dwarfing my beautiful daughter.
My family member casually commented, "We had a premature baby who died, also." I was surprised, because I had never heard about this child. She started telling me about the son they lost, her eyes full of joy and pain at his memory. It happend so long ago, but she was happy to tell someone about his short life.
Ruth was only one of three children I've lost. I recently had a miscarriage, 20 years after my first miscarriage. This pregnancy wasn't planned and the miscarriage was very different from the first. But the physical pain was nothing compared to the paralyzing grief that followed. I gave a ride home from school for our neighbor's son. He was in a Family class and was required to take a "baby" home for 24 hours. The baby was an expensive, computer that cried every so often, had to be fed, "changed" and held. I laughed at this 16 year old boy ernestly caring for a doll so that it wouldn't cry. He started telling me facts about babies he had learned and as I listened, a picture flashed into my head. A tiny red-haired boy, wrapped up tight and smelling like a baby, tucked under my chin, snuggled and safe. It was the baby I had just lost and the image was so intense and real, I just started crying. I managed to get home okay, but then went to my room and bawled. I cried for 6 hours without stopping. My children were concerned, but I told them, "I have to grieve for this baby I lost, otherwise I'll never get over it." They all gave me hugs and let me cry. Once that crying spell was over, I was fine. I am fine.
Grief is a subject that has interested me for years. The media will tell you that sex is a taboo subject. Not as much as grief, death, loss. My neighbor experienced a miscarriage two years ago and I told her how sorry I was and that I had lost one too (this was before my recent loss). Her eyes welled up with tears and she said, "Thank you for saying that. Most people pretend like it never happened. They are too uncomfortable to talk about it." I told her that my first miscarriage was exactly the same way. She was there for me when I called her in a panic with a positive pregancy test and cramping and bleeding.
When I am in a public place, I often wonder how many people I'm looking at have lost a child and nobody knows. How many silently remember on an uncelebrated birthday, year after year. If you are out there, and you have suffered the loss of a child, a niece, a nephew, a husband or wife, and you feel that you are grieving alone, please know you are not alone. There are many others who carry the memory of a loved one they will never be able to hold and love again.
My faith is what has gotten me through the many losses in my life. And family and friends. I have attended grief seminars and read many books. If you are suffering and feeling like you will never smile again, please reach out for help. There is joy after loss. And, I may not know you, but I know exactly what you are going through.