I’ve said it before we even lost Asher, that I prefer when people acknowledge that I am struggling with something. At the time, it was our struggle with infertility. It was consuming my life and I felt like people tiptoed around it or just didn’t care that I fell apart every month. I much preferred when people would say “I’m sorry you are going through that and I am here if you need me”. It just helped me be less bitter about our circumstances at the time.
As time has gone on since losing Asher, I’ve noticed less and less people mention our loss. I know that many people don’t want to bring it up because they don’t want to upset me. And I completely understand that. They think that mentioning Asher will make me cry (most of the time it will). But that is ok. I want you to mention my son to me. I want you to acknowledge his existence. I’m not sure about other loss moms, but for me, I’m so afraid of my son being forgotten. Since his passing, as the months have gone on, the mention of him by others has become less and less. It scares me that people are forgetting that I did have a son. He was here. I understand that over time, the loss of him will fade for most people. They will forget that I had a son because they won’t see him here. But for me, it will never fade.
Recently, Hubby and I saw a large group of people for the first time since losing Asher. I thought for sure people would acknowledge our loss. Three people said something to me about him, that was it. One of them was a woman I just met that evening. She was informed of our loss by a mutual friend. Her and I were chatting and during a lull she said “I have to say, that I am very sorry to hear about your baby”. She went on to tell both Hubby and I that she was proud of us. That was the first time either of us had heard someone say that to us. It really resonated with Hubby. It was nice to hear that someone (even someone we barely knew) was proud of the fact that we were moving forward together. We weren’t hiding, we were out with friends, pressing on through our grief. I am so very grateful to her for mentioning my son. It meant a lot me to be able to talk about him and our loss with her in that moment.
Losing a child is a difficult road to navigate, not just for those who lost a child, but also the people who surround those individuals. People don’t know what to say. They don’t want to upset us. And I totally get it. No one wants to make someone cry or feel like they upset a person when they are already emotionally drained. I also think part of it is that stillbirth and infant loss is still kind of a taboo subject. I know several people whose mothers had stillborns as recent as 30-40 years ago and it was never discussed. They didn’t grow up knowing they had a sibling who was missing. It was buried deep down and not to be discussed. I have an immediate family who had a stillborn in the 1950’s and never even got to hold her baby. That family member’s subsequent children grew up never knowing about their deceased, older sibling. It was not discussed. Society played a large role in that, it just wasn’t something to be discussed, but it could also be that is just how some people deal with this type of loss. I can’t do that. I can’t pretend he didn’t happen. I can’t bury the loss of Asher deep down and continue on with life, like I didn’t carry him for 8 months. He was here, albeit for a short period of time, but he was still here. His existence has irrecovably changed our lives. He cannot be packed up, put in a box, and placed on a shelf, never to be mentioned again. I cannot and will not do that.
“If you know someone who has lost a child or lost anybody who’s important to them, and you’re afraid to mention them because you think you might make them sad by reminding them that they died, they didn’t forget they died. You’re not reminding them. What you’re reminding them of is that you remember that they lived, and that’s a great, great gift.” ~Elizabeth Edwards
This quote perfectly verbalizes exactly how I feel. You mentioning to me that you are sorry for my loss is not reminding me that I lost my son. I am reminded of that every minute of every day. Yes, I may tear up at the mention of it, I may not either. It just depends on where I am at that point in time emotionally. But, even if you if you make me cry, it’s okay. You mentioning my son acknowledges his short life. He had to live in order for us to have this loss. In the start of this journey, I remember speaking to another loss mom about her stillborn son. What she said to me really resonated with me. I thanked her for sharing her story and offering me support. Her response was “absolutely! I never pass up an opportunity to talk about my son”. That is exactly how I feel. I will never pass up an opportunity to talk about Asher. Since he was taken so soon, I won’t be able to chat about how he is doing in school or what sport he is playing. A vast majority of any conversation about Asher is going to be about the loss of him, and that’s ok because at least I am talking about him. I am sharing his existence with others and I relish every opportunity that I can talk about my son and his impact on my life. So please, don’t ever be afraid to bring up Asher or the loss of him to me. You will not be reminding me that he isn’t here, you will be reminding me that he did live, if only for a short while.