Tuesday, October 11, 2011

One in Four: I am the Face

Today I was at a store trying to pick out some cards to send some of my friends as this month is a very difficult one for several of us... As soon as I walked in, I could tell the woman working was going to annoy me. I told her three times that I didn't need any help... I should have just asked her where their 'dead baby anniversary' card section was and she probably would have let me alone...
I made my way over to the card section and decided that the sympathy section would be the best place to start... this is how big this particular sympathy section is at the store I was at today-

How many of these cards do you suppose are for the 'loss of a child (son and daughter, or general child loss)?


Five cards that address the loss of a child. None are really appropriate for the loss of a young child. They all speak of all the memories you have to cherish- every single one. We are lucky enough to have nine months worth of memories. But even still- that's not a lot.  None are appropriate for a child that never took a breath outside of their devastated Mommy.

How many cards do think there were for the loss of a pet?


The same amount of cards to express condolences over a cat, dog, horse, fish, hamster, whatever... Seriously?! I know people love their pets, but a pet is not a child, or a baby.

This is the perfect example of how some people still view the loss of a child- specifically, the loss of a young child, infant, or stillbirth. Some people are actually brazen enough to compare the loss of very young child to the pain of losing a pet. Deplorable.

In the past, when a child passed away, the family was expected to move on as if nothing had happened at all. The child's name was rarely spoken and the child's memory was just set aside. Families of stillborn babies were often robbed of seeing, holding or kissing their child, before it was taken away forever. These babies were often buried without names. Parents were never given closure and were just sent home to deal with their grief in silence.

Thankfully, times have changed and most stillbirths are not handled now, like they were decades ago. But that doesn't mean that child loss has become a topic that society talks about openly. The subject is taboo and avoided at all cost by some people. Most people don't know what to say to someone who has lost a child. Some think it's best to not mention the child, for fear of upsetting the parent. Some think there is a certain course that grief takes, and if you don't follow it, you must be doing something wrong. And worse, some believe there is an expiration date on the grief over a child.

Unless you've lost a child, and walked this same dark path, you could never know it feels like to live every day without them. The pain is indescribable. It's life changing. The person you were before, disappears and you are suddenly a new person, in this new horrible world. Your emotions constantly surprise you. You are sad, depressed, angry, desperate, lonely... In just thirteen days, it will be one year that we've been without our beautiful Ellie. It doesn't hurt any less. It's just not as raw and fresh. The pain just settles in and becomes part of you. I've learned to fake it better and learned how to hold in my tears.

For the most part, we've been so lucky to be surrounded by people that are understanding and have allowed us to go at our own pace. Most people didn't make any assumptions on how we should be dealing with our devastating loss and there is no doubt in my mind that they think of Ellie daily. Our family and friends mention and talk about Ellie. They remember hard days and have stood beside us through this horrific year.
But there have been a couple of people in our lives that believe they know best, despite the fact that they have never experienced this sort of loss. They judge, accuse and are reckless with their words and opinions. I was actually told that, "we know you're life has stopped, but everyone else has moved on." The grieving parent knows more than anyone, that despite their child's death, the world keeps spinning. This is realization is forced on us the moment we leave the hospital with empty arms. Like I said, unless you've been in our place, you don't know. It is this sort of ignorance that not only stunts a parent's grief process, but also makes them hesitant to talk about their pain.

What's unbelievable to me, is that so many people still think pregnancy and infant loss is a rare occurrence and something that would/ could never happen to them. One year ago, I was certainly one of those people... It is my belief that people believe this because this topic is so taboo. After Ellie died, I couldn't believe how many people came forward to say that they too had lost a child, or how many other mothers I met that had just recently lost a child. Ellie's cause of death is rare, as we were told, so rare it's like getting struck by lightning, but people lose their babies every single day. The numbers are staggering.

One in Four.

That's right. One in four people will experience a pregnancy or infant loss. That's 25% of women. You now more than just person that has gone through something like this.

Almost every one knows that October is breast cancer awareness month, but most people don't know that it's also Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. It's time that people start talking about this too. People will wear bracelets and shirts that boldly say, "BOOBIES" on it, but people don't want to hear about or talk about someone's dead baby. Guess what, I guarantee you, that baby's Mommy wants to talk about them.

We want people to want to try to understand and to remember.


Be apart of spreading awareness:
  • I am the Face website: get your badge (there are supporter badges too!), and information on how to spread awareness.
  • Check out Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope website, started by a mom who's beautiful girl, Stevie, was born still. It's an excellent source of support for mothers who are on this journey. There is also a section for families and friends- it has tips on what to do, and what to say- an amazing website.
  • Carly Marie's Project Heal, a website run by a mom who's son, Christian, was also born still. There are many tips for family and friends. A beautiful website with tons of great information.
  • Share: a website dedicated to those you have lost a pregnancy or infant. More tips or family and friends.

 I am the Face.


B. Wilson said...

You are a magnificent woman, Tiffany. Thank you for being so bold and forthcoming with your words about child loss and your love for Ellie.

We can talk about someone's boobs but we can't talk about the lost life of a human being gone too soon. It doesn't measure up. We need to think less about discomfort and more about the reality of life and loss.

LauraJane said...

What a beautiful post. The numbers re: the cards is terrifying.

And absolutely, so many look the other way. fuck.

LauraJane said...

And, I posted a whole chunk of this post as my fb status. ;)

Tiffany said...

I must share this! So well written!

Natasha said...

This is such a great post Tiffany......so perfectly written!

Eclipsed said...

You're absolutely right. I have never walked that path myself, but I can imagine no greater pain. Very beautifully written. And it seems that Hallmark needs to step up their game.

MrsMuchTall said...

I too, borrowed some of this for my Facebook status. It's time to break the taboo. My heart goes out to every woman that has suffered the loss of their baby, from conception on. Thank you so much for helping me to become more aware, and also more comfortable bringing up this painful subject with others.

Sarita Boyette said...

This is so true, Tiffany. I was in the Hallmark store one day & there were NO cards for a child or baby loss and several for different animal losses ncluding specific cat & dog ones. How hard would it be to design a card that expressed sympathy for a baby girl or a baby boy loss?
I have been thinking of you so much - please know that my heart is with each of you. And I do hope that Max's milk allergy is gone forever.

Caroline said...

What a great post , written so well.
Please know I'm thinking of you so much.

Erin said...

Have you seen these beautiful cards? Franchesca Cox and Carly Marie Dudley have designed a line of cards called "Lost for Words." http://lostforwordscardline.com/
Another contribution to the community by these amazing ladies.

Kristin said...

What a great post. Thanks so much for all your support, Tiffany! <3

Stacey said...

Thank you for saying what so many of us can't find the words to say. Love this post and I will be sharing it. Thanks for being so strong for all of us who have faced such an unbearable loss.

Aunt Kerri said...

Like I said, You. Raw. Makes me admire you and love you more each and every day.

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