National Child Loss Awareness Day

Zachary's FuneralBecause grief isn’t something you “get over” in 4 years or 40 years.

I am the 1:4, yes as shocking as it seems 1 in 4 of us have “lost” a baby. That means have had a child die. We have not mislaid them, forgotten them or left them somewhere – we have felt/feel the pain of loss, but our child is still part of our lives.

For each and every one of us parents, there are also siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents and friends. This week is Baby Loss Awareness Week. Will you break the taboo and mention the name of a much loved baby who is no longer alive or acknowledge that the parents might still miss their named or unnamed little one?

Even a like here, a comment or a share will show that you understand this is more than a “loss”. Don’t worry, you will not be reminding us, because we never forget our children, they live with us daily.

Baby/infant loss awareness week 9th to 15th October 2013. Light a candle at 7pm local time on the 15th (tomorrow) to take part in the annual wave of light and take time to remember those children who did not get the chance to grow up, here on earth. I will be thinking of Zachary and all the other children I “know” because we “lost” her.

And here’s what Gayle wrote a few months after Zachary’s funeral.

We were warned when we discovered Zachary’s condition that people would put their foot in it sometimes. People don’t know what to say, they don’t say anything at all, they say the wrong thing.. Even knowing this it doesn’t lessen the hurt you feel when someone inadvertantly says something tactless.

Just two weeks after Zachary died we were with some friends who prayed for us. This was a nice gesture and we appreciated their love and support. However, we left the meeting feeling hurt and completely misunderstood. One prayer was that we ‘wouldn’t be so sad’. Six months down the line this seems quite an innoccuous statement, but at the time it bruised us to hear it from a good friend: after a couple of months of knowing our son’s condition, anticipating carrying him to full term only to watch him die, then discovering that his heart had stopped, delivering our dead son, holding him in our arms and looking into his face and then holding a funeral service for him just a week before, being encouraged ‘not to feel so sad’ felt trite and utterly insensitive. Yes, pray for more comfort; but to be ‘less sad’ for losing the son who you had desired to be part of your family, who you had hopes and dreams for?! In the same meeting, someone spoke whose words essentially implied that we were living in the past and that we should move on into the future. This might be appropriate if our son hadn’t died just two weeks prior and if we weren’t still in the throes of grief. We felt two big feet stamp on our hearts that day.

Then just the other day I bumped into someone from our church who asked me whether I had ‘got over [our] disappointment’? Maybe he was trying to be polite with his words, making us the subject matter rather than talking about our son, but it revealed he knew very little about our experience and our loss. Our son Zachary was no disappointment. It was heartbreaking to discover he wasn’t going to live, it was tremendously difficult to carry him knowing he wouldn’t be a living member of our family, but he was no mistake or misfortune. Our son will forever be a privilege to us – a privilege that we were able to know him even for that short period of time and a privilege that he lived as long as he did so that we could deliver and hold him together as his parents and tell him that we love him. These words put another stamp on my heart.

We have had many people come forward to offer their condolences, and some have shared their stories of how they have had to deliver their dead child. I have immense admiration and respect for what they did and know that they empathise fully with us. Sometimes people try to be nice, but sometimes they get it wrong and I wish they didn’t try so hard. Grace is there to forgive those who have wounded our hearts with their words but it doesn’t always take the impact of them away immediately. Sometimes, the best support to give, when words are not enough to express sadness, is just quiet companionship on the challenging road ahead.

1 Comment on “National Child Loss Awareness Day

  1. I came to see a long while ago that you never ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one. It is not like getting over a cold or the flu. If you lose an arm or a leg you won’t get over that either. It won’t grow back. Instead you have to come to terms with your loss. Once you see that it is impossible to ‘get over’ then you can start to negotiate the terms of your loss. You are left with the memories but as Christians you can be secure in the knowledge that you will one day be reunited with Zachary as his development will continue in heaven as it would have done on earth.

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