Monday, July 1, 2013
Where Birth and Death Meet: Remembrance, Grief and Celebration
A year ago today, as I held my newborn daughter in my arms, other members of my online Due Date Club held their newborns, a few were heavily pregnant, anxiously waiting for labor to begin, and one mother among us (and her family) faced the worst pain imaginable… Their daughter Clara was born still.
When a baby dies, is born still, or lost to miscarriage (sometimes before their existence has even been acknowledged,) grieving comes with extraordinary challenges – Extraordinary loneliness. The pain of losing a child is so excruciating that anyone who has the luxury of recoiling will; anyone removed enough from the tragedy to put it out of their minds, even for a moment, will. For parents who have lost a child, there is no withdrawing from sorrow, no putting it out of their minds; the only option is to move through it.
Sadly, those who have lost children find themselves not only alone as they grieve, but alone as they celebrate their babies’ lives. A family might have weeks or months of memories beginning with a positive pregnancy test, while the outside world sees only a child who never took a breath. The joy and love and distinct personality remain a beautiful secret and all anyone will ever know of this exceptional little being is the hole that was left behind when it was ripped away. How do you celebrate a birth that everyone else seems to see as a death? How do you share your joy when it is linked so inexplicably with a profound pain people want to shy away from?
Today I offer my heart – in grief and in celebration – to those of you who have lost babies. When I look at you, or read your story, I don’t see someone who is broken; I see incredible strength. I cannot sink fully in to that unimaginable pain with you; but I hope that my thoughts and prayers, and the thoughts and prayers sent out by many others attach to you like threads that hold you and lift you (even if it’s just an inch) from the depths of sorrow.
As a mother (who has experienced early miscarriage,) I know that your love started growing the moment you had an inkling that you might be pregnant. I know that your baby’s personality became more apparent each day, that (s)he transformed you, brought you joy, enhanced your very existence; I know that even if (s)he never took a breath, (s)he changed the world immensely.
Today I honor and celebrate the many babies who have touched my life, though we never had the opportunity to meet. Among them are: Clara, Benjamin, Milo, Haylee, Patrick, Mary, Aquilla, Emily, Ari, Gemini, and Lanea. I invite you to leave a name (or names) in the comments along with anything you’d like to share about a baby whose brief life touched yours.
If you or someone you know is experiencing the loss of a baby, or if you’d like to reach out to support those experiencing loss please take a moment to explore the following resources: