I've seen & heard it asked...different people, with different connections to dead baby parents. Someone has a friend. A person has a cousin. Dead baby disease, sadly, runs rampant. We're always adding new members to this club. Anyway, it's always been asked, "how can I help them?" or "how can I nudge them past this?"
It's easy really.
First, invent a time machine.
Kidding (but if you got one, send me a message). But really, it is easy.
Oh yes, it's that easy. Just be there. Be you. But be you for them. Don't say or do what you think you'd want if you were in their shoes. Think of them. I'll explain more about that shortly.
You see, we live in a world where people want to fix things; say something to make a person feel better. We want to give advice. We want to fix it. I appreciate it, really, I do. But you can't. Unless you have that time machine I talked about before. So please don't try.
Here is a list of things that, for me, I did not appreciate:
Now is not the time to spread the word of your god.
Believe it or not, not everyone believes the same as you. I know, I know. Sit down, cry a little, regain your composure & come back to reading. Are you ready now? Good. Telling me that my baby was in the arms of Jesus doesn't help me. Fuck your greedy Jesus, I want my baby back. Telling me god has a plan for everything also doesn't help. Again, sit down, I don't believe in god personally. I think it's great if someone else has something to hold onto & believe in if they choose to, but I choose not to. Telling me that someone I think is a fairy tale has a plan doesn't help. Please, don't try to save me or change my mind. It will not be anymore well received than when the Mormons knock on my door. Which leads me to the next one...
Do not say or do shit to make yourself feel better.
Yeah, you feel bad. You want to make that feeling go away. So you decide it's a good idea to write me an essay with bible quotes &, uh, sections or whatever you call them that you feel backs up your theory. You aren't doing that for me, you're doing it for you. So you can feel like you've done something, so you can feel good that you've helped me. Well, you haven't. You're sleeping better at night, go you! Aren't you a special snowflake?! Me? I'm still crying. My parents wanted to bring us take out after Joel died. I didn't not want it. I don't want your pity food, I don't want to see you look at me like that. If I want to be alone, please respect that. You don't know what's best for me. Please try to remember that.
Do not look on the bright side.
There is no bright side in my world, especially right after Joel died. Don't smile at me & tell me how great I look. I look like someone who isn't brave enough to jump off a bridge. And don't tell me how I already have children, living children. I love my kids, including the dead one. And he'll never get to know it, never get to grow up & know it. My living children aren't Joel. Don't tell me at least I never got to know him. I kinda did. And honestly, it kills me that I didn't get to know him, even a little.
Do not ignore it.
Don't make my dead baby the elephant in the room. I had people who, even an hour after his funeral, try to avoid the topic. When someone else dies, are they ignored? If your mother dies, do you pretend she never existed? Your father? Your spouse? Of course not. Which brings us to my biggie...
Don't forget him.
I'm still hurt by people who forgot Joel's birthday. I'm sad for him. I'm sad for me. He happened. Don't pack him away & never speak of him again or acknowledge his life. Again, would you do that to anyone else in your life who died? No, it's never too soon to mention him or acknowledge his birthday or death. Just like it's never too late. Please don't forget him.
Don't try to nudge me back to who I was.
Hi there. I'm the new me. Hopefully you get use to me. I look like me, act like me alot, but I'm damaged goods. Some days I'll be sad for no real reason. Some times I'll just get emotional. Little things can trigger this, be understanding. Do not try to fix me. If you're unhappy with how I've dealt with things or how I'm not acting, you should go away. The person you knew & loved has had something happened that changed their lives, that forever changed them. I may be nothing like the person you once knew, or I could just have moments where I'm different. Either way, be understanding. Nothing, minus that time machine, will ever correct that. If you really feel like you can't deal with the new me & the fact that old me will never be back, please bow out of my life. It'll cause less pain than if you try to "fix" me.
Don't gossip about it. If you have questions, ask me.
Know that saying "good news travels fast"? Bullshit. Bad news travels more than anything you'll ever know. Suddenly, the 2nd grade teachers cousins wifes next door neighbor knows someones nanny who heard about what happened. If people mention it & you know, tell them my son died & leave it at that. If they want more info, suggest they ask me. Chances are, unless you heard it straight from me, the story isn't exactly 100% on the nose. And if you heard about it, mention it. Don't wait until I'm forced to bring it up in small talk. Then I'll feel like an idiot. And I'll wonder what you heard & if you're giving that look. The look of sadness & pity, mixed with awkwardness while trying to hide it with a smile.
Don't think I'm weird.
Unless you've been through exactly what I've been through, you don't have a right to think I'm weird. If I choose to blog about it, let me. If I choose to search my medical records every other week just to look for something, anything, let me. If I'm online on support groups or I'm not friends with other moms of dead babies, it's fine. If I have a picture of my baby, don't think it's odd. Do not decide what your comfort level is & expect me to stay within it. This goes back to my earlier thought of not thinking everyone would do as you think you'd do. First, you never know what you'd do in this situation. Sure, you think you know, but unless you are in it you will never be sure. I thought I knew, but I was wrong. Secondly, don't decide what's good for the goose is good for the gander (I really wanted to use that phrase for some weird reason). OK, fine, you wouldn't do what I'm doing. Good news, you have that choice! If your baby dies or has died, you can decide what's best for you. Don't pretend to know what will work best for me. If you think I'm an obsessed freak with emotional issues, unless I'm a danger to myself or someone else, is there really harm? Which leads me to the last one...
Do not be an asshole.
Seriously. If you have to stop & think, "should I..." then chances are the answer is no. Remember, you can always say or do something later. But once it's out there, you can't take it back. And everything said or done wrong stays with me...forever.
Up next, a special titled, "My baby has died, what next?!"