During our last gathering of The Hope and Loss Group, we talked about what to say when you hear that someone’s baby or babies have died. After four bereaved mothers discussed and listened to each other, we all agreed that there are no perfect words. There is not a magical thing to say to a bereaved parent. Nothing will “fix” what has happened. I think that is the hard part of this all. I believe most humans, maybe not all but most, have this desire to help others and want to make others feel better especially when you see somebody upset or in pain. And when you are presented with this scenario, a baby or babies dying, we can be at a loss for words. What do you say?
A bereaved parent does want permission to talk about their baby or babies, if they start this conversation. This can make others listening feel uncomfortable. And that is also why I believe, it does not get talked about. “Oh, I did not want to make them cry, or bring up the pain and sadness. Quick, change the subject! Then I will show that I am sorry for opening up that wound.”
At our monthly meetings, mothers share their stories and journeys. And sometimes that lends itself to us crying. Shedding those built up tears. And it can be pretty emotional. There are no quick fixes to make the tears stop. Nor do I want them to end, is what they say. There is something healing and powerful in letting go. Ironically, it actually builds something within ourselves. It allows us to feel what has happened, and not to push it away. As we sometimes feel we have to do.
Watching others or even myself, is it uncomfortable to see the tears? Sometimes, yes. In my head I think, “Should I say something? What can I say to help them?” If it is myself crying, I think, “I had better stop. I may be making others feel uncomfortable.” But I will say, after I have cried, I feel better. I feel good. It is such a release. I think others may say the same. It may not feel that great in the midst of it, bringing up buried emotions. But afterwards it is recognizing that, “Yes, I am still sad about losing my baby or babies. That will never change. But I got to talk about it, and got validation for having these feelings and was allowed to share about a very dear being that is not with me any longer.”
I went to the movies the other day with our boys, and we saw “Inside Out”. What a great movie in showing emotions inside our heads (and hearts), and how we push away “Sadness”. The whole time many of the characters inside the girl’s head are trying to get rid of any sadness. They want only happy and joyful memories for this girl. We do that to ourselves, “Everything is ok. Just focus on positive feelings at all times.” And we do that with each other. At the end of the show, the character “Joy” realizes that “Sadness” isn’t such a bad thing. And sometimes we try to get rid of these sad feelings in other ways, and it can show itself as anger or fear. But the sadness is still there. The secret: allowing ourselves to feel all of these emotions can actually be so healing. Quite the opposite of what we think will happen. I am going to “carry” this sadness but pretend it does not exist. That will keep me “strong” and “positive”.
There are not any perfect words to say when someone’s baby or babies have died. I know that we often are looking and searching for this “magical wand” to make it all better for everyone. But it does not exist. Just listening to another grieving, and giving them permission to say whatever they need to and what is on their mind could be the answer. An occasional, “I’m so sorry,” and hug help too. But nothing will fix this. Nothing. Just being present with an open heart, and truly listening can speak tremendous volumes to one whom is grieving the loss of their baby or babies.