Taboos surrounding baby loss will I think always be difficult to break, as generations change people’s attitudes differ too. When someone in their 80’s tells you they lost a baby but have no idea where they are; or people of the next generation telling us how they wished they could have spoken more about their losses. It is not only sad for these parents, these families who have gone through such losses only to be silenced; but for the babies too, buried alone or with strangers even placed in mass graves.
They’re simply forgotten only to be spoken about via secret journals, family trees even parents who suffer from ageing conditions like dementia will bring up babies they once carried but never got to keep. The stigma surrounding baby loss, has changed somewhat but still not enough to remove all taboos.
Why Is Baby Loss Silenced?
As much as we want to be able to speak about baby loss should we want to, people have a great fear of sadness, from themselves and within a conversation.
There’s a fear of having an innocence taken, or that the bereaved are contagious and will in some way infect infant death upon someone else. This is where it becomes lonely. It becomes a life split between knowing when to talk about your child, and when to hide them away, purely to save ourselves from being hurt further.
Why Do You Feel That People Are Unable To Talk About Their Experiences?
Firstly, nobody should ever feel they HAVE to share their experiences, not everyone is happy or comfortable with sharing about their loss – that is just as okay as being open. I have gone through many motions of sharing our story, from being very open to hiding her. I have to admit I have also felt some kind of shame, having a baby who died just changes everyone around you, so sometimes it is easier to just not say anything.
In fact, since losing Melody I very, very rarely mention the miscarriages, which is definitely down to shame, because I guess I blame my body for letting these babies down somehow, so many times too.
Because of the taboo, it is the fear of avoidance or upsetting the person you are talking to.
How Do You Deal With Uncomfortable Reactions?
They used to bother me, hurt me. But I have slowly learned that most people really don’t know how to react, or know what to say. You then find yourself telling them that it’s okay, which can be difficult, when you’re trying hard to keep yourself together. Over time, you do learn who you can talk to more about your loss, and who you can only brush over; this is more about protecting yourself from their tears, sighs and eye rolls. These expressions are the last things you want to see when you’re talking about your child.
It is hard not to get angry BUT if you need to, then do. Ask why they find it so uncomfortable, you could maybe find a way of helping each other. This is definitely something I wish I had done or at least had the courage to do.
How Do You Break The Silence?
For me, it’s talking or writing; sharing our little girl, this has been incredibly important to me to get her story out there. I have never felt as lonely as I have being a bereaved mother, especially for the type of loss. The conversation can discuss miscarriage and losses through pregnancy, but as soon as I mentioned that she died at a month old, the conversation stops. The support networks shrink. Doors closed in our faces; I wanted to change this, to speak out for these babies, for these parents because they matter too!
Breaking the silence to me means giving her a voice, and making her known. I can’t hide her away, I can’t let her death mean nothing, and this is why I am here writing this.
How Do you Answer The Question How Many Children Do You Have?
It depends on who is asking. If it is a stranger passing the time of day, then I tell them just of the children I have with me. I have once or twice twisted the truth and said the full amount of children, but not stated any deaths.
But now, mostly if I think they are going to be lifelong friends then I will be truthful, I admit I do brush over it a little to soften the blow a little; to protect me and them I guess. I have been bitten so many times, where I have let out the full story only for people to use it as gossip, or an ice breaker for other conversations. That’s not pleasant.
There is a lot of guilt with this question too, about sharing your child’s memory and protecting future friendships. I am definitely more aware of the question and tend not to ask, simply because you don’t always know the full story.
What Advice Would You Give To Someone Who Is Struggling With These Feeling And Feels That They Have To Keep Things To Themselves?
I think once you can find the confidence to talk about your loss, then it does get a bit easier to share, it just comes naturally. But again nobody should ever feel that they HAVE to share anything.
I did find social media a great help, it helped me to get things out without being face to face with people; at the same time it helped people to understand more about how I was feeling and why. Writing became my saviour.
I would suggest even if you write things down and never show anyone; getting things out of your system will help a lot. It will give you a release; to help you breathe.
Having such a loss can be suffocating, you can feel trapped; if you can seek support find what is out there, what is right for you.
Never be afraid of talking about your child.