How People Treat me Differently (after the Death of a Child)

Today I feel like I need a little venting session on the unfair realities of the death of a child.  I’m feeling a little feisty and want to write my feelings out about how people have treated me differently since my son died.

People don’t want to talk about my child.  Whether they are uncomfortable talking about death or they don’t want to hurt my feelings by bringing it up, people usually don’t want to talk about anything past the initial “what happened”.  It’s so frustrating.  I feel like so many people “cared” in the beginning and wanted to know what happened and how I was feeling, then they dropped off the face of the earth.  It’s like a slap in the face.  Did they only want to know what happened so they could talk (gossip) to others about me?  I want to shout to the world that I have a son.  I’m proud of him.  I carried him for his whole life and now that he’s gone, no one wants to talk about him.

People don’t want to hear my pregnancy experience.  I was talking to a lady at work who’s pregnant and she was chatting about normal pregnancy things.  When I chimed in about my experience with that same thing she was experiencing, she got visibly uncomfortable, like my experience was jaded because my child died.  My pregnancy was totally normal and healthy.  Don’t make me feel uncomfortable for sharing those great memories.  Also, people don’t want to ask you about your experiences.  Again, I don’t know if they just don’t want to bring up potentially painful memories, but I experienced pregnancy and birth, please don’t leave me out of the conversation because the end result wasn’t the same as yours.

People treat the birth differently.  When anyone in my department at work has a child, as a group gift, they are given a necklace with the child’s name and birth date.  I was looking forward to this while I was pregnant!  But, did I get one?  No, and I’m upset about it.  Why am I forgotten or left out?  You may wonder, well, what did she get then?  A plant and an Edible Arrangement.  Because I’d much rather have a plant and fruit when my child dies rather than a beautiful necklace that I can wear and remember my child by (sense the sarcasm?).

People assume I should be “over it” by now.  Many people have been so great to me, I want to start with that!  However some you can see get uncomfortable when you talk about your child, their life, and their death.  Yes, sometimes I still cry when I talk about him.  No, I will never be over the fact that my child died.  I live a new life now and I’m not the same I used to be.  Just like if my child lived, I would not be the same I was before children.

People whisper about me.  I can hear their whispers.  You’re not protecting me with your whispers, you’re making it more like a secret than reality.  You make my life seem more gossipy than protecting me from hurt.  I was getting a pedicure with my mother-in-law one day and afterwards her hairstylist came up to her with excitement, “OH, are you a grandma yet?  Did she have the baby?”  My mother-in-law just whispered, told her to ask someone else at the spa about it, pushed it aside, and they continued with another conversation.    After a great afternoon with her getting pampered, I got in my car and started bawling.  It doesn’t make me feel better to whisper about me.  Say it as it is!  My child died.  I’m okay with people saying that.  It’s not a secret!

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4 thoughts on “How People Treat me Differently (after the Death of a Child)

  1. I’m so sorry you’re hurting 😦

    What I’ve found had helped has been being totally open myself about it. I take the lead in conversations about pregnancy – and I’ll start with something like ‘my second pregnancy was awesome, he died, but up until then everything was normal’. And if someone asks about the baby I don’t leave a silence for someone else to fill, I say what happened. People do start awkward, but it’s honestly because they don’t want to cause us further pain. They don’t understand.

    Maybe chat to your boss or whoever’s in charge of the necklaces, and say something like, you know, one in four pregnancies end in the baby dying – from experience, we should include those mothers in the tradition from now on, it’s so healing to be acknowledged as a mother.

    I’ve found that most people are looking to me for a cue – if I’m good with talking about it, so are they. Except my mother in law lol. But I give up on her.

    • Thanks hun, your comments are very sweet. You’re right, people do look to us for cues and I know people’s intentions aren’t to hurt us further. Sometimes people just don’t know how to respond. Thanks for your encouragement!

  2. Your post today was just what I needed. I’m going back to work this afternoon just to get back in the building I guess you could say. I meet tomorrow with my boss and am going to try to visit with my students, then try to go back on Friday. I worry about the whispers, about acknowledging that he did exist and that I might talk about him too much or not enough. I’m sorry about your sweet little boy, our stories are too similar. Hugs from Kentucky!

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