5 Things A Stillbirth Mother Wants The World To Know

July 8, 2017

By Sanda Rathamone

5. It is safe to talk about my child.

While many will assume that not talking about my son is helpful and saves me from heartache, it doesn't. What actually happens is that I will often feel vulnerable when my son is not mentioned, remembered, considered, or included — unintentionally and intentionally. 

Some may even think that by not mentioning about my loss keeps me away from sad reminders. The truth is, I am always reminded of my loss. There is not a day that goes by that I do not forget about my son or what happened to him. Not talking about him gives me the reminder that others may be fearful of talking to me or about my son or gives me the assumption that others simply do not care. So, why would talking about him be any worse? The worst has already happened. 

What I want to talk about is not just about my son, but about how much he means to me and how painful it is to live without him. He is always alive in my memories and I hope that my son is also a part of others, too. It is not that I want everyone to talk about him, everyday. I want others to be comfortable or at least learn to get comfortable when it comes to talking about my son, because talking about him brings me comfort. My intentions is to show that my son is not a taboo and loss is not a taboo subject. 

My son's name deserves to be fully said instead of privately whispered.

Loss is a reality that needs to be expressed and accepted by not just the bereaved, but also by society and those closest to us. 

4. You may not know it, but I need to know that you care. 

I have heard time and time again from people who say that they care and that they are available if I ever need to talk. And I have seen time and time again that this promise is halfheartedly given. Caring is not just about saying, but also about doing.

Ask me how I am doing, show me that you are there for me, offer not just your time, but your heart and listen. Help me see true love and kindness by simple gestures. I do not expect gifts or require advice, but rather value human empathy and sympathy. A simple hug, a simple thought and gesture of kindness, a simple "hey, hello, hi" is all I need to know that you are actually there.

Caring means giving your undivided attention. Nothing less, nothing more.

3. No, I am not fragile or sensitive. But please, be careful with what you choose to say and do. 

There is no doubt that I cry. A major portion of loss is emotional release, however, there is no need to mislabel me as emotional, bipolar, or sensitive. There is no shame in revealing my deepest fears and emotions, but rather much courage and bravery.

In today's society, "showing feelings" is irrational, childish even. It is so unfortunate that many are taught not to accept human emotions and what it means to be human. Many are taught to hide parts of their selves that are real, relateable, and natural. It is natural for me to cry, it is natural for you to cry.

Another thing is that actions reveal much of who we are, what we think and feel, and how we cope or deal with certain experiences. Actions reveal what you are either willing or unwilling to do. All that I ask is for the respect of my grievances and the space to grieve without shame or judgment. 

2. My life has undergone a huge change in ways you might not understand. 

They say that having a baby changes your life. Well, I have seen and felt that having a baby die changes everything and more. Having a baby die changed my perception of life, myself, others, and beliefs. It changed the way I saw the world and God — in both good and bad ways. It changed my faith in life, it even changed my joy for life. Loss made me question so many things, whether I deserved this or that, whether I was a bad or good person. It made me feel very insecure and uncertain about everything. I even lost who I was.

How and why could something like this happen to me? What did I do to have my son taken away from me? Those are the biggest questions that changed my life forever. I have had to rediscover, reevaluate, and recover from many mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual strains. It has taken much of my energy to cope after loss. There was also a huge portion of my life that was taken from me, the life I was expecting to live with my son. Constantly, I have had to painfully rewire my heart and brain around loss. Just because you may not see these changes, does not mean they do not exist.

Loss is a major and deep, deep shift that expands an awareness to another side of life, the side that many will refuse to love and accept. Death is not an easy thing to understand and perhaps is not something to understand at all. Death is another stage of life in which requires other and all parts of ourselves, parts that we must learn to love or let go.

In many ways, I, too, have died with my son. I have changed more than you could ever know.

1. Loss does not diminish my experience or title of being a mother.

At the moment of pregnancy, I became a mother. After five months of pregnancy, I am still a mother. And then after loss, I have become more of a mother than I have ever thought I could be.

I may not bathe or feed my child regularly as you do with your child, but I love my child unconditionally. I love as any loving mother loves their child. It does not matter whether I have had months or years of experience as a mother, I am — not was — a mother. You will even see that I mother my son just as any other mother, mothers her son. And it is not that I want to be a mother that makes me a mother, it is the fact that I have a son who I love and miss so much that makes me his mother.

I am not asking for acknowledgement, but rather respect as a mother. I am asking that everyone expands their definition of motherhood as I have had to learn to expand mine. 

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