Pregnancy and Infant Loss is a really tough subject. I didn’t realize how many families are affected by it until it happened to us. It makes people uncomfortable but that doesn’t mean it should be ignored, especially when it happens to a family member or friend. Sadly, babies die. It’s heartbreaking, but it’s true. We as loss parents don’t get to ignore the fact that one (or more) of our children is missing.
It really helps when others acknowledge our children and the pain we live in. It also helps when people understand that the grief that follows PAIL isn’t something that can be fixed. There is no magic phrase to make it better.
I honestly didn’t know how Ben and I would survive without Elliot. In the first few hours of finding out she had died, I thought we’d have to go home and pretend she never existed. I didn’t know how I was expected to do that. I’m honestly not sure why I thought we’d have to. Maybe because PAIL seemed like such a taboo subject. I didn’t think anyone would want to talk about about it. I didn’t think they’d want to talk about Elliot. I thought everyone would say I’m sorry and just move on. I thought we were alone in PAIL and that’s how we’d stay. I thought no one would understand or be affected so deeply by our loss. I thought we’d have to close our curtains and cry in the privacy of our own home. I truly thought we’d have to hide our grief.
I couldn’t have been more wrong, and I’m so thankful I was. It immediately became very clear that we were not alone. We weren’t expected to shut down and forget about Elliot. As we shared the news with our family and heard the shock and pain in their voices, through their sobs, it was clear that they were heartbroken, too. They had also made space for Elliot in their lives. They felt the void and emptiness with us.
Our loved ones truly wanted to be there for us. The first step for some was to do online research – How do you talk to someone who has experienced a stillbirth?
They knew what would be important to us before we did. They said her name. They told us they love her and will miss her too.
She will never be forgotten.
She is still your daughter.
She will always be part of the family.
She was meant to be yours.
She was meant to be.
This wasn’t supposed to happen.
It isn’t fair.
You didn’t do anything to deserve this.
They sat with us and let us talk. I’ve spent hours and hours talking about Elliot, my grief, and PAIL. I’m so grateful for all my family and friends who have sat with me and listened.
They asked to see her photos and memory box. And today, they display her photos. They remember her on special days like her birthday, holidays, and other family celebrations. They also think of her on the ordinary days.
They understand we can’t be fixed, and they are not afraid to walk through the darkness with us. They left out the “at least” and “you will have more” statements. Most importantly, they are not afraid to say her name – Elliot Kathryn Davis – and celebrate her life and the love she left behind.
Image credit – Edith’s momma, Jessica Weischedel