Others said nothing at all and removed themselves from my life which was more hurtful than the comments. And some would not acknowledge my baby and did not view me as a mother. Looking back, I wish I were prepared for how to handle the negativity from family members, particularly, the negative and hurtful comments.
The first thing I will say is to be prepared for those comments. It is very likely that it will happen. Most people just do not know what to say to or how to act around someone who loses a baby. Some things that I have been told are:
“You’re young, you can have more children.”
I realize that some people just do not get that although yes, I may be able to have another baby, it doesn’t erase the fact that I wanted my daughter and that I will grieve her death forever. Further, pregnancy after loss isn’t an easy and blissful experience. It is excruciatingly difficult and stressful.
“It did not just happen to you; it happens to a lot of people.”
What happened to me is not common and even if it was, it does not take away the fact that my daughter is dead, I am upset about it and always will be.
“It was not meant to be.”
This is hurtful because it just dismisses my pain.
“God doesn’t make mistakes.”
Again, this just dismisses my grief
“It was God’s plan.”
Hearing this has never made me feel better at all, in fact it makes me feel worse and raises more questions like why us?
“Well, you should have known to go to the hospital earlier.”
This one really hurt me. This was my first pregnancy. I voiced my concerns to my midwife and was always told “it’s normal”. So, no I did not know.
“At least you know you can get pregnant.”
My end goal in getting pregnant was to have a baby and to bring that baby home….this, once again, just dismisses my pain.
What I have learned from this is people say stupid things and sometimes it is not to hurt us, they just do not know what to say so it is best to be prepared for it.
To help mitigate some of the negative comments, I decided to educate my family members by informing them about stillbirth and the statistics around it. I discussed my emotions and feelings to normalize it and explained how I wanted to be treated and what I wanted to be told. Most family members embraced what I was saying, while others were very persistent in telling me that I should be over it and move on. If educating did not work, I would move to ignoring the negative remarks and would sometimes avoid people who did not get it. Prior to my daughter’s death, I was a people pleaser. I would keep people around and help them even if they were toxic in my life. I did this because I did not want to hurt their feelings. After Zalayah’s death, I purged those toxic people from my life. I had enough going on and I realized for once in my life, I needed to put myself first. My mantra became if they did not care about Zalayah and my feelings then they were simply not worth having in my life, especially during such a difficult and fragile time. For me to heal, I needed people who were on my side, who listened to what I needed and allowed me to speak openly about my daughter.
As my inner circle began to shrink, I realized how important it was to find support from other people who understood my pain. Finding support within the loss community has helped me remarkably since they just get it. They are more aware of hurtful and negative comments and will support me no matter what. If you are feeling let down by your family, reach out to our community, chances are, you are not alone.