What not to say to a grieving mother

This post was inspired by Heather Spohr’s most recent post over at The Spohr’s are Multiplying.

As a bit of background Heather and her husband Mike lost their first daughter Madeline (also called Maddie) just about 2 years ago at 15 months old due to respiratory issues she had had since birth. Madeline was born 10 weeks premature and had scarred lungs as a result, but managed to fight back and live a happy and full life until her tragic death in April 2009. Heather and Mike have since welcomed a second daughter in their lives, Annabel, who is the apple of their eye. However, of course, Heather and Mike still fight with their grief everyday, watching their little girl grow up whilst remembering Maddie and everything she would be doing right now.  Heather wrote an entry today as a result of comments and emails she has been receiving about her sad Maddy posts, people who likely mean well worry she should ‘move on’ or ‘get past’ her daughters death for the sake of her new child. Sigh. If only it were that easy.

So loss mama’s, speak up here. Did having another child help you to magically be ok with the loss of their sibling? Do you think their siblings are negatively impacted by the random grief attacks loss mama’s stumble through?

Here is your chance to get your own two cents in.

About mommamaynard

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.” — Albert Einstein. When it feels like your world has been shattered, and you have reached rock bottom, you must make a choice: Stay where you are and fade away, or keep moving forward. Thankfully I chose to move forward and was blessed with the two most wonderful children after the death of my first in early labor. Things are looking up.

Posted on March 15, 2011, in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Hi! Thanks for commenting, I followed Danica’s story very closely.
    I am happy to hear you are pregnant again but also know that grab bag of an emotional roller coaster too well..
    Best of luck to you and your husband through these volatile times of sadness/blessings all rolled into one.
    Every mom feel’s different about the gender of their next baby, I know many hope for a baby of the same gender, myself I wanted the complete opposite. I wanted a girl so badly because I would have an excuse to NOT USE all of Evan’s things on another little boy which would totally creep me out, looking at him as what his brother should have been doing. I knew too that my family would not approve/understand my need to purge all the boy things (minus the very special things I kept) if we had had another boy. So I was so releived to start completely fresh with a girl and give my boy things to charity, to a little boy in need, that I would never have to see in Evan’s things.
    That being said, I still yearn for a living son, I just wanted my girl first to soften the blow a little until I had more to time to deal with Evan’s death.
    ❤ Take care

  2. No, it didn’t magically make it all better. Sure, it was a relief in some ways and alleviated the fear that I might never carry a pregnancy to term… but Liam is not Caelie, and I haven’t forgotten her. In fact, right now we have family visiting and one of O’s cousins is just a month younger than she would’ve been (that was hard, finding out his aunt was pregnant not long after our loss) so I keep remembering her and realizing how old L’s older sister would be now.

    I don’t really have grief attacks anymore, so I can’t speak to that part of your question. But when he’s older, I will probably explain it to him and I don’t think he will be negatively impacted. I think it is just a part of that family’s life, though. There’s no way to know how any Rainbow Baby’s life would be if circumstances were different, because they can only play the hand they are dealt.

  3. Ugh . Somehow stillbirth is the topic of choice todaay. another one of my friends made a post today about being at the dentist. She had her newborn with her and a lady d how old her baby was and then said “I had a baby month ago but he was born dead”. And someone commented saying “that’s not normal for her to say that and she’s probably just still getting over it.” SERIOUSLY!!?? I dont even know where to start.

    • Oh man, it probably felt SO GOOD for that women to say that.
      That sounds so sick…and it sorta is, but as a loss mom, I know how desperately I wanted to talk about my baby, and my birth experience, but kept it in cause I was afraid people would be weirded out if I just blurted it out like that.

  4. I am currently pregnant and fear that the loss of my daughter this past July will impact every aspect of pregnancy and parenthood.

    I do not feel that having this child will “fill the void” or “make things okay”. In fact, I feel the opposite. I fear that these feelings of guilt and grief will intensify with each passing day I spend with my unborn child. I still feel guilty for what had happened, not that I could have ever changed what had happened. But I feel with every loss a parent goes though, they question every aspect of the situation, and unfortunately I still haven’t gotten through this stage of grief.

    The few people who know about my pregnancy ask if I would like a boy or girl. I tell them either as long as they are healthy. This then often times leads to the question of “Well don’t you think if it’s a girl, everyone will be comparing her to Danica?”

    I don’t really know how to answer this question. I guess I am still really lost, and I have a lot to overcome. All I do know is, Danica will never be replaced, Danica’s life will never be forgotten, and my loss will always impact me.

  5. Having more babies has not took away the pain of losing Abby. Time has helped me better deal with the grief. Having Lucas, and even more with kaylee, every breath they take, every smile, every movement even, is so bittersweet because it just reminds me so much more of what I lost and missed with Abby. Nothing could ever make me forget, or stop grieving over my first daughter. Just like every baby is different. Every baby, alive or passed on, is different. Having more kids does not mean Abby never existed.

  6. No, having another child did NOT magically make everything ok. In many ways, it made it worse. Everything Charlotte did in the first year reminded me of what we would never have with Abby. IT didn’t take away the joy of seeing Charlotte breathe, laugh, cry, poop, crawl, etc but it was always tinged with pain and grief. Having a baby to hold in my arms was wonderful, but now that my baby is no longer a baby, my arms ache again and they always will. There will always be a baby that I long to hold, no matter how many children we would go on to have (and we’re done now!).

    I don’t think my random moments of grief negatively affect my children. It’s a part of life that they would eventually see – either when a grandparent dies, or their own parent. Grief sucks. If anything, I think I’ve taught my children how to grieve in a healthy way and taught them the value of a life – that Abby is missed, and can never be replaced. She has a place in our family that we acknowledge and her absence doesn’t erase that.

    I had stupid people who were dumb enough to comment on my LJ at one time about how I should stop focusing on my dead baby and be a better parent to my children. It’s easy to think that I went around 24/7 bawling my eyes out, because that’s what a lot of my LJ entries were like. But my grief was never all-the-time, and I *was* a good parent despite it. You never get over the loss of a child, you just learn to live with it.

    • So, i just read your comment because I am interested in hearing what not to say to a loss mamma, because I’m scared of saying something wrong… anyway, I cannot believe that people were callous enough to tell you to stop focusing on your dead baby. just… wtf?! And I can imagine that made you feel just peachy. *hugs*

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