Saturday, June 15, 2013

She literally backed away

If I wasn't already convinced that we need to break the silence around stillbirth, I am now. Recently I met a lady who I hadn't seen since before Ariella was born. I don't know her very well, and we don't share many of the same social circles. As she was walking past a room, she saw me inside and came over to where I was sitting. She excitedly said "you've had you're baby, haven't you?" and of course, my heart started pounding. I hate having to tell people the bad news, because I feel like it ruins the conversation. So I said to her that yes, I did have our baby. She then asked me what we'd had, and I said that we'd had a girl, but she was stillborn. She very awkwardly said she was sorry, and then starting backing away. Literally. She was still looking at me, but taking backwards steps away from me. It's always hard having to tell people about Ariella's death, but I'm not sure I've ever felt as awkward as I did at that moment, watching her literally back away.

Stillbirth isn't widely talked about, so many people don't know how to react when they hear about it. If you hear about a stillbirth (especially an unexpected one) consider asking what the child's name is, or when their birthday is. If you believe in prayer, maybe tell the parents you will be praying for them (but make sure that if you say this, you follow through and actually pray). Tell them that you are sorry that this happened to them and that you will be thinking of them. Depending on your relationship with them, perhaps you could give them a hug...but ask first! If nothing else, admit that you don't know what to say

I know it's hard to hear about a baby who was stillborn. When I hear of a friend's loss, it hits me hard. I feel as though I stumble backwards in shock. It's ok to feel that, just please don't actually do that. Please don't back away...


Kerlie McGerser said...

Oh, I'm sorry, Larissa. How awkward. I know that it's hard for people to know what the "right" thing to do or say is, but how can someone possibly think that would be helpful in any way? I now feel so compelled to ask and be open with people, it's hard to imagine being to uncomfortable I would literally back away. Gosh. I agree with you; saying you don't know what to say should be the fallback! I love how your blog often has so much advice/thing to think on for friends and family.

Larissa said...

I know what you mean - people often do things that I think about and say "how one earth did they think that would be helpful??" :P
Thank you. I really hope I can help people not be so awkward/hurtful towards other people.

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