being a mom

10 Things To Never Say To A Grieving Parent

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grieving motherHere is a list of the most unhelpful things I have heard after the loss of my son, and what people could have said instead.

10. “At least he/she wasn’t older – it would have been so much harder”

Really? How is that you would think that would be the case. I lost my hopes, dreams, and future for this child. This was my child. A living, breathing human being. Infants are not supposed to die. I was supposed to have a lifetime to make memories. I was robbed and cheated out of everything I was supposed to have with my child. This is HARD, this is a hard that people cannot even comprehend. It doesn’t matter how old he was.

Try saying this instead: “I am so sorry, no parent should ever lose their child.”

9. “You’re having a funeral/memorial/lantern release to say goodbye? Why?”

Why wouldn’t I have a funeral? Did your mother/father/husband/brother/other loved adult have one? Why doesn’t my child deserve a funeral? Because they were under a year old I should just donate them to science or something? What if I don’t want to and I want to have a nice funeral for them, because heaven knows I am not going to be planning any birthdays or any other the other million things I should have been able to do with my child. Just let me do this and say goodbye the way I need to say goodbye.

Try saying this instead: “What time is the memorial? Anything I can do to help?”

8. “This is why I co-sleep/don’t co-sleep/have an angel care monitor/nurse/don’t nurse/vaccinate/don’t vaccinate so forth and so on”

-This is not the time for parenting advice. Yes, we all know you are the World’s Best Parent doing everything correctly. Why don’t you go back to trolling forums now and brag a bit there. Have fun. I am going to go sit in the corner with my guilt and replay every moment of my child’s life and try to figure out what I did wrong, which by the way is something I do anyway every waking moment of my day.

Try saying this instead: “I am so sorry. I don’t know what to say.”

7. “I heard that (reason for babies death) is caused by (giant piece of mis-information here)

You want to find an expert on the various causes of death in infants or miscarriages or stillbirth or anything that causes young childhood death. Find a parent that is living through it, because that is what we do – we search and search and dig for answers all day, every day about what caused us to lose our child. We become the experts. We read research papers, stay on top of legislation, read article after article, check and double check facts, we will even reach out to top doctors in that particular field to find answers. It really upsets us when we hear misinformation being spread. Bonus points if you decided to argue the point with us after we correct you on the facts.

Try saying this instead: I am so sorry for your loss. I’ve heard of (reason baby died) would you be able to tell me more about it?

6. “I know how you feel, my cat passed away.”

Go away and stop talking. This was actually said to me and I know quite a lot of parents who have had their babies deaths compared to the loss of a pet. Sorry, no. Just no. I can’t say that enough and cannot believe it even needs to be said. I love animals. I have pets. I have had a cats and dogs for my entire 36 years on this planet. I adore animals and would adopt every adoptable animal if I could. I have lost pets. And I buried my child. It’s not the same. It is not even comparable. I don’t care how much you love your pet, it is nothing, NOTHING even close to losing a child. Quite honestly and bluntly, losing a child isn’t comparable to any other sort of loss, and I have had some major losses in my life, including my beloved father. Planning a funeral for my 26 day old son was a sort of pain that a human should have to go through and hearing someone compare that to the loss of a cat, is just insulting.

Try saying this instead: “I am so sorry, I have no idea what you are going through right now.”

5. “Maybe something was wrong with him, like genetically, sometimes nature knows what it’s doing”

Maybe something is wrong with you. Thanks for insulting my child in my time of grief and shock. Much appreciated. And I wouldn’t have cared if anything was “wrong” with them, anything is better than dead.

Try saying this instead “I am so sorry. You must miss him.”

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185 Comments

  1. Eve Vawter

    November 13, 2013 at 11:08 am

    Thank you so much for this xo

  2. Athena A

    November 13, 2013 at 11:09 am

    People can be so tactless and unthinking. So sorry for the loss of your boy, I can’t imagine the pain.

  3. Tinyfaeri

    November 13, 2013 at 11:18 am

    I’m so sorry for your and your family’s loss.

  4. LadyClodia

    November 13, 2013 at 11:19 am

    I’m so sorry for the loss of your baby. And I’m sorry that people have been so insensitive to you about such a devastating tragedy.

  5. Amanda

    November 13, 2013 at 11:23 am

    It’s hard for me to understand how people can say things like this, and it’s only been recently that I’ve realized that many, many people do not understand grief. They seem to have no concept of it. Allowing people to feel their feelings is vitally important. Grief takes a long, long time, often many years and it’s totally possible after a shock like this that they will never totally recover. That’s normal. When I talk to people dealing with such raw grief, I try to keep three things in mind: 1) Don’t ignore the deceased. That makes all those feelings that they will be forgotten 1000X’s worse. 2) Don’t try to label or explain the events. Like the original poster said, things like “This was God’s plan” are NOT helpful. 3) If you have any good memories of the lost loved one, please, please share it. Often grieving people are holding on to any shred of evidence that those they lost won’t be forgotten. And remember that those who have lost someone so dear (especially when you’ve lost a child), the pain never goes away, but it’s always a balm to hear in the years after their death those good memories.

    To the OP: I am so, so sorry, and thank you for posting this.

    • alice

      November 13, 2013 at 11:26 am

      This x1000.

    • Kate B

      November 13, 2013 at 3:22 pm

      You’re absolutely right.
      I think as well, for me, it was important that people didn’t try to pretend it hadn’t happened. My loss was 4 years ago,and lots of people avoid speaking about my son now. I know they’re worried about upsetting me, but I like talking and reminiscing about him. Yes, sometimes it is upsetting, but I’d much rather TALK about what happened than pretend it never happened. I feel like I often have to pretend it never happened though, because it causes people so much obvious discomfort when I mention him.

    • fairymama

      November 14, 2013 at 7:57 am

      YES.. exactly. It’s only been a little over a year since I lost my nine-year-old daughter and ten years since we lost my nephew. It never goes away and only those who’ve gone through it will understand.

    • Shelly Lloyd

      November 14, 2013 at 8:11 am

      I had the opposite reaction about not reminiscing about a loved one who has died. When I lost my father I was devastated. I was 6 months pregnant at the time and it was a sudden loss–a heart attack in what was an otherwise very healthy man. He was only 52 so it was like a bolt from the blue.
      I did go through a horrid depression where I was unable to function, where I had an almost inability to get out of bed for the first 3 months after he died. It was only due to the birth of my daughter that got me back into being able to function again. And then I had to battle postpartum depression compounded by the lingering depression from my father’s death.
      My father was a very popular man and had lots of friends and business acquaintances in the community we lived in. And there was days when I could get out of bed and get dressed and go to the store only to run into one of his friends who, trying to be kind would remind me of something funny my father had said. And it would make me miss him all that more. And while I would smile and tell them thanks–part of me was so pissed that they reminded me that day, that day when I was able to function again, that he was no longer with us. It took about 2 years before I could talk about him without breaking down. I was always grateful to those who would not bring him up in conversation. Even now, 15 years latter, there are just some days when I can not talk about him.

    • Kate B

      November 14, 2013 at 2:35 pm

      I guess the lesson to take from this is that we’re all different, and we all handle grief differently. I suppose, then, it’s good advice to simply listen. I’m sorry for your loss x

    • Sandy

      November 19, 2013 at 8:14 pm

      Yes, thank you! When I lost my baby to miscarriage four years ago, I was so devastated I was horribly depressed for at least a year and every now and again it comes flooding back and I find myself grieving all over again. Even now, I can feel my throat close up thinking about it. It was a good two years before I could bring him up myself. I just couldn’t talk about him. I would get a physical block that prevented sound from escaping when I tried to say his name. Which hurt so much because I wanted to talk about him. I wanted/want other people to remember him and what he meant to our family. I understand that for a lot of people it’s a little bit stranger to bring him up because there was no funeral or birth. Most people simply act as if it never happened. When I read the part about “why would you have a funeral?” I nearly died. How can anyone ask that?! I wanted a funeral for mine and he wasn’t even born yet. We want our pain to be legitimized but also, I think, a lot of us want our loved ones remembered – regardless of how little time they were with us.

    • AugustW

      November 16, 2013 at 1:56 pm

      Even actively experiencing it, I don’t think I can say I understand grief. My grief is not your grief, is not their grief.

  6. alice

    November 13, 2013 at 11:24 am

    ugh. im so sorry for your loss. 🙁

    like eve said: thank you for sharing this. i think it’s really important for some people to hear.

    especially your last point. at least the others are examples of people trying to be helpful, and failing miserably, with their awkward suggestions, questions, and anecdotes.

    but the last one, “god has a plan,” is such a fucking know-it-all statement. i understand that Believers think this is the Ultimate Truth, and therefore the ultimate comfort. but can they not step outsides themselves for 5 seconds to see that this isn’t the time to evangelize? Who are they helping? Themselves? ugh. 🙁 🙁 🙁

    • AugustW

      November 16, 2013 at 1:58 pm

      “Eff God and his stupid efffing plan, I want my dad back” was my reaction to that for a while.

  7. Amanda Lee

    November 13, 2013 at 11:28 am

    Hi Alyson, I just wanted to say how sorry I am for your family’s loss. You’re right that most of us don’t know what to say. The majority of the time, people are really just trying to empathize may not see that their comments are insensitive. I also want to commend you for writing your thoughts out when the grief is still so fresh. Although he was only here a short time, he will live on in your hearts and memories.

  8. esuzanne

    November 13, 2013 at 11:46 am

    I wish you had more time with your baby. I’m so sorry.

  9. momjones

    November 13, 2013 at 11:47 am

    I am sorry for your loss and thank you for sharing this so poignantly. One other thing that I have always found somewhat offensive after the loss of a loved one and time has passed, is the statement, “It’s been (fill in the blank) months or years since the person died. It’s time to move on.” It really is no one’s business how someone deals with grief, let alone how long it takes. Also, it’s really not possible to “move on.” You don’t forget, you only learn to live with the loss in whatever way you can.

    • Lexi

      November 14, 2013 at 10:33 am

      I hate this too. That and when someone dies from a long term illness, hearing “well at least they don’t have to suffer anymore”. My aunt hates hearing that one since my cousin’s death.

    • AugustW

      November 16, 2013 at 1:55 pm

      I’m kind of torn on that one. I heard it a lot with my dad (15 years of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma…he described it like having the flu every day for 15 years). Sometimes when it was said, it comforted me, because he was so strong and fought so hard to not let us see his pain.
      Other times, it would piss me off, because he was the kind of guy who would rather be here in pain than gone in peace.

  10. riss

    November 13, 2013 at 11:59 am

    my brother lost his baby at 6 months old. he was born at 24 weeks, 1lb 10oz. beat tons of odds just to survive as long as he did. a year later my brother took his life, partically because of his overwhelming grief. it doesnt matter if the baby never comes home, didnt have great odds, how the parents fed him, or anything like that. unless the parent killed the baby, purposly, its not their fault. and god doesnt take people either. thats not what the bible teaches. Ecclesiastes 9:11, 12

    • ElleJai

      November 13, 2013 at 9:55 pm

      I don’t know who’s down voting you for the loss of your brother and his child, but I’m so sorry for your double loss. I hope your sister in law got counselling too because that would be hard to get through on your own, husband and child both just gone 🙁

  11. G.E. Phillips

    November 13, 2013 at 12:03 pm

    I am so, so sorry for your loss, and I am so sorry that anyone said any of this shit to you.

  12. whiteroses

    November 13, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    I cannot imagine anything worse than a parent having to bury their child. It is a complete reversal of all that is good and right in the world. And I can’t wrap my head around idiots who think that saying ANYTHING in this type of situation would be helpful in any way- other than “I am so, so, sorry. What can I do to help? If you need anything at all, I’m here.”

    • CrushLily

      November 13, 2013 at 6:34 pm

      Perhaps people say such things as a way of trying to clarify the circumstances so they can reassure themselves that it won’t happen to them. For example, if the baby died as a result of a genetic disorder or a heart defect, then that is reassuring to them because it means their baby won’t die because it doesn’t have a genetic disorder or a heart defect. Of course, this doesn’t excuse their insensitivity at all, but maybe they are just trying to rationalise and understand something horrible, irrational and unfair to themselves in a really tactless and thoughtless way. And it goes without saying the grieving parent is to play no part in THEIR rationalisation process.

    • Pappy

      November 13, 2013 at 10:11 pm

      I know I offered “You can try again!” to a grieving friend in a hamfisted attempt at consolation. I realize in retrospect that many of the things I said could be labeled with a giant “YOU’RE NOT HELPING” sign but at the time I was so clueless and upset by her grief I was stuck in “make it better” mode. Much later, after reading several articles written by grieving parents, I apologized for how insensitive I was. Luckily, my friend understood that I had meant well.
      Sometimes when you act in ignorance and realize it only much later, all you can do is say “I’m sorry. I’m much less ignorant now and I promise I’ll learn from my mistakes.” Depending on the recipient, that may make them feel better.

    • CrazyLogic

      November 14, 2013 at 12:05 am

      I once compared someone’s grandmother dying to my cat running away.

      Then again, I was six and hadn’t wrapped my head around death and loosing someone to it yet…

    • Kate B

      November 14, 2013 at 2:50 pm

      Pappy – I’m sure your friend appreciated your obvious concern and distress for her and realized that your intentions were good.
      I think that counts for a lot. I’ve had people say things on this list to me in a dismissive way, and that angered me. But I’ve also had things on this list said to me by people who were obviously devastated for me; feeling they should be offering those elusive words that would ‘make everything better’ and saying something crass and insensitive in the attempt. However, I recognized that, I understood that they were desperately trying to help, and I deeply appreciated that.
      I’m sure your friend will also be grateful that you obviously reflected on the things you’d said, and offered an apology. You sound like a very caring person.

    • Pappy

      November 14, 2013 at 9:58 pm

      I learned about active listening in college, which helped a lot. I wish it was a skill we taught everyone. The instinct to “fix it! Make it better!” is a strong one. You can do that with an injury… Bring them an icepack, get a bandaid and disinfectant. But when it’s an emotional wound? Many people are left helpless. It’s not unlike (if you’ll pardon the trite metaphor) Sheldon Cooper and his hot beverages. In the face of something so overwhelming and unfixable, it’s hard not to fall back on social protocol and platitudes. The world would be a better place if we could all learn, at an early age, when to shut up and listen.

  13. Suburban Mommy

    November 13, 2013 at 12:15 pm

    I am stunned that anyone would say something so horrible to someone who is grieving. I think the one that sticks out to me the most is the comparison to a cat dying. I can’t stand it when people compare their pets to my kid, let alone the loss of a child to the loss of a pet. People are assholes. I am deeply sorry for the loss of your child. I don’t know you, but my heart aches for you and your husband.

    • Skipper

      November 13, 2013 at 12:37 pm

      I don’t think anyone sets out to be horrible. I haven’t experienced much loss in my life, so I typically don’t say anything because I can’t imagine what I could say that would help, and I’m sure that there are people that find me horrible for not saying anything. To be honest, when I did lose someone, hearing “I’m sorry for your loss” didn’t help at all.

    • Suburban Mommy

      November 13, 2013 at 2:43 pm

      Agreed. I know that people don’t mean to be horrible, but the stuff that comes out of people’s mouth can be truly heartbreaking. A friend of mine just lost her child due to a rare genetic illness and had to bury her daughter on her first birthday. Someone actually said to her, “Well, it’s probably for the best anyway.” Were they trying to be nice? Of course. But, that has to be at least in the top 5 of the worst things to say to someone who is grieving. And I am sorry that you experienced so much loss in your life.

    • Skipper

      November 13, 2013 at 3:01 pm

      I think lots of people want to be the one that says that magical thing that brings perspective and makes everything okay – which means they have to say something unique which often translates to strange and awkward.

    • Velma

      November 19, 2013 at 10:45 pm

      truth, they do it because it always works in the movies when the old guy says that deep meaningful thing. But it’s not realistic. To be real, even the most perfectly phrased message directly from the Dali Lama wouldn’t take away the pain.

    • Kate B

      November 13, 2013 at 3:15 pm

      No, it doesn’t help, but then there’s very few words out there that offer any comfort when you’ve lost a loved one.
      I think people say stupid things or even avoid you altogether because they feel like they SHOULD be able to offer you those magic words that’ll make everything better. But, when I lost my son, there was nothing anyone could’ve said that would’ve made me feel better. And I didn’t expect them to be able to offer words of great insight or comfort. I just wanted them to be there for me – that was enough. I wish people understood that. It wasn’t about what they said, it was about the fact they showed me that they were there for me, and were devastated for me. That was what was genuinely comforting.

    • Skipper

      November 13, 2013 at 3:22 pm

      What I always find to be comforting is to hear a nice or funny story about how the person will be remembered. Not sure that can always be applied to this type of situation though.

    • Kate B

      November 13, 2013 at 3:29 pm

      Well, it’s a lot harder to offer memories of a child whose life has been cut so short but personally, I do find it comforting when people talk about my son – how gorgeous he looked when he smiled for the first time, how alert and beautiful he was, how cute he looked in a specific outfit, how proud we all were to take him home from hospital.
      People often avoid saying anything at all about him though, for fear I’m sure of saying the ‘wrong’ thing (although as this article shows, that fear is sometimes, sadly, well founded) or upsetting me. That in itself, can be upsetting, because I don’t want to pretend he didn’t exist. He was my son, a living, breathing person who we all loved and doted on. Sharing memories of him means we can take something positive from his death – at least we have those happy memories. If that makes sense! x

    • Guest

      November 13, 2013 at 2:26 pm

      Here is one thing I don’t understand. I am a horrible person because I compare my dog, horse, or whatever animal I am rehabbing at the time to children; but it is ok for you to compare your child to a baby goat? I don’t get that. I’ve lost relatives, pets, and had a miscarriage. I still think about my dog. It has been several years, but everyday I think about him. I still think of my mom, grandparents, and uncle too; but not as much as that dog. My miscarriage didn’t even register as blip in my life. Everyone is different. Some people have only lost a pet and it caused them significant grief. Others don’t have any idea of what to say, so they say the first thing that comes to mind. Then there are people who don’t care about your life, but social niceties require some statement and once again they say the first thing that comes to mind.

    • Suburban Mommy

      November 13, 2013 at 2:38 pm

      Oh, I get it. I didn’t quite understand the goat thing for a minute. You’re so right on this one: I said kid and that makes me compare a child to a baby goat. Right. For the record, I used a common American colloquialism. That does not mean that I literally meant that my child is also, in fact, a baby goat. Get a grip. And yes I agree that some people have only lost a pet and that caused them great sadness. I am an animal lover and have also lost pets and it was of course deeply sad for me and my family. However, comparing the loss of a child to the loss of a pet is insulting – regardless of the intention. I think that’s probably why it’s number five in this article. Maybe you should stop pretending that I’m the asshole here for saying it in a slightly less polite way that the article did. I also agree that most people’s intentions are good, but um, did you read the whole article? It was full of “social niceties” that are terrible things to say. One of the other commenters on here said it best: The only things out of your mouth should be, “I’m so sorry,” and “Is there anything at all that I can do to help?”

    • Guest

      November 13, 2013 at 5:33 pm

      I never said you were an asshole. I asked a simple question, because it is something I don’t understand. But the loss of a child vs the loss of pet is dependent upon the person. I had my dog for 15 wonderful years, he saw me through thick and thin. We had many great adventures. I also had a miscarriage at 7 and half months. I still grieve over my dog. I was my normal self after my miscarriage. Many people trip over themselves trying to say something comforting. My point is there are people who do not care about your loss but societal standards require some sort of platitude to acknowledge the loss. I never know what to say, so I say nothing. It also depends to whom you are speaking friends and family, they should be able to say something nice. Boss, coworkers, etc; what do you expect someone to do?

    • blh

      November 14, 2013 at 9:44 am

      Well number one, most people don’t have to bury a child, generally the parent goes first. With a dog you know well and good it’s going to die before you. Short lifespans. And second bc it’s a DOG. A person is always more valuable than an animal. There is nothing more painful than losing a child.

    • Jamie

      November 19, 2013 at 10:58 pm

      Dogs aren’t supposed to outlive you. Children are more than just companions, they are a parent’s longevity, their immortality. They carry on after you are dead and gone and you live through them. Pets are wonderful but I can’t imagine comparing the two. I am honestly a bit worried about how little you cared about your miscarriage. Did you not work thought it? Was your dog there to help you through it and now you are putting some of that onto your dog? I don’t know, but I can at least agree that things can be tailored to the individual but it is best to treat them with care and caution anyway.

    • Kate B

      November 13, 2013 at 3:17 pm

      That;s true, but it’s patently insensitive to compare the loss of a pet to the loss of a child.
      That’s not diminishing how awful the loss of your dog made you feel. It’s just another ‘social nicety’.

    • Guest

      November 13, 2013 at 5:38 pm

      I also shared that I had suffered a miscarriage. The loss of my dog rocked me to the core. The miscarriage not so much. It may make me a horrible person, but I still miss that dog. Everyone is different. Honestly speaking, as Skipper pointed out, there is nothing that anyone can or will say that will make the situation better. One more point, there are people that are very uncomfortable with uncontrolled displays of emotion. When my mom passed away, people said all kinds of things. “She is in a better place.” “She isn’t suffering anymore.” Etc., etc., etc. Didn’t help or change anything, but it probably made them feel better.

    • iamtheshoshie

      November 13, 2013 at 6:07 pm

      Not to be an asshole back at you, and miscarriages can be devastating to some people, but there’s a big difference between a miscarriage and a baby. HUGE difference.

    • Guest

      November 13, 2013 at 6:34 pm

      I assure you, I don’t think you are an asshole. Miscarriages are devastating to some people. There is a difference between a fetus and a baby. The point I was trying to make, everyone looks at things differently. My cousin suffered a miscarriage and still can’ t look at babies. I’m very different from her. Some people are more sensitive than others. None of the statements made in the article would offend or upset me. I understand that I am different from the majority. Some things people say are not said from the viewpoint of the person that just lost a child. They are said from the person’s viewpoint.

    • guest

      November 13, 2013 at 9:00 pm

      Wow. Perhaps people should think about how what they are saying might impact on a bereaved parent then. That’s the point. Why should communication be about making yourself feel better when the person you are talking to is obviously in a lot of pain? Its fine that you feel deep grief over the loss of your dog, but the point is, saying that to a bereaved parent is highly unlikely to make them feel better and probably will do the opposite. If you care about the person you are talking to maybe what you could take from this post is simply not to mention the dog. Doesn’t mean you don’t miss the dog, just understand that this is not an appropriate thing to say. And also I saw you said earlier that you don’t know what to say so you don’t say anything at all. Personally I hate it when people do that to me (my baby died earlier this year). Its a cop out. Its cowardly. At least say ‘I’m sorry for your loss’ or something. At least acknowledge that life is totally unbearable for them at present.
      The author did give several examples of things you can say. Perhaps you could read back on those if you really are interested in compassionate communication.

    • allison

      November 13, 2013 at 9:33 pm

      It isn’t cowardly to keep quiet. Many people that are grieving are trying hard to get through the day without breaking down and don’t want to discuss it.

    • Guest

      November 13, 2013 at 10:02 pm

      You obviously didn’t read my replies properly. I said I don’t know what to say so I say nothing. I stated that when my mother passed away people told me the normal things “She’s in a better place.” etc., it didn’t help me, but possibly made them feel better. I’m not sure I’m not a mental health professional, so I can’t speak to what their motivation was. I was explaining my viewpoint that my dog was my sunshine. My compadre, confidant, and friend. I’ve never said to anyone that I know their loss, as I lost my dog. I pointed out that the loss of my dog destroyed my world, much more than the miscarriage I suffered. Therefore you took my post completely out of context or only read what you wanted to. I will just sit there with a sympathetic smile on my face and let them talk. If I know them well enough I might hold their hand or give them a hug. But, I know nothing I say will change things. The best I can do is just give them a target to rage at or cry on. Also, I am well acquainted with interpersonal communications, so I don’t need a list to tell me how to interact with bereaved people.

    • Kate B

      November 14, 2013 at 7:22 am

      Saying that there’s a difference between losing a pet or having a miscarriage and having your child die is not, in any way, diminishing whatever grief the former experiences may have caused.
      But, it is insensitive nonetheless, to tell a bereaved parent that you know exactly how they feel because you’ve had an animal die or experienced a miscarriage.

    • Guest

      November 14, 2013 at 1:30 pm

      Kate,

      Once again, I have never told anyone that has lost a child that I understand their grief because I lost my beloved dog or had a miscarriage. Losing a child is devastating. But, everyone is different, for some women a miscarriage is an ordeal. The point I was trying to make is everyone reacts differently to death and grieves in their own way. My cousin and I both suffered miscarriages, she is still distraught. None of the platitudes that the author used made her feel better, they didn’t help, and sometimes caused her more pain. That is her, there is nothing wrong with the way she is still grieving. As I said above, I don’t say anything. If they need to talk, vent, cry, and/or mourn, I’ll just sit there and them talk. I’ve found sometimes it is not the what is said, but what isn’t. As Allison pointed out, some don’t want to be reminded of their loss, no matter how good the intentions.

    • Kate B

      November 14, 2013 at 2:39 pm

      The only point that I’ve made is that it is insensitive to compare the death of a child to the death of a pet or an early miscarriage. I’m certainly not trying to diminish anybody’s pain or suffering.
      If we agree on that, then what are we arguing about?
      I absolutely agree that we all respond to grief differently, and you have to take your lead from the person who has been bereaved. But making comparisons to a pet is tactless however you look at it, and I can’t imagine anybody being comforted by such a sentiment.

    • Guest

      November 14, 2013 at 5:52 pm

      Kate,

      I didn’t compare the loss of my dog or my miscarriage, which occurred at 7.5 months (not early) to the loss of a child. I compared the loss of MY dog to MY miscarriage, not to the author’s loss or anyone else’s. Then compared my miscarriage to my cousin’s. I continue to be more upset about the loss of my dog than my miscarriage. My cousin is devastated from her miscarriage, I am not (my miscarriage not hers). The argument is, that you and another poster have credited me with statements that I have never made. I would never tell a person that I understand their pain because I lost my dog or had a miscarriage. The pain is not comparable between situations. The point I was trying to make is that everyone is different. As I said any of the examples in the article would not offend nor upset me. I am not comfortable with displays of uncontrolled emotion, so to prevent my foot from ending up in my mouth I say nothing. I can offer a shoulder to punch or to cry on. So for you to call me tactless based on erroneous information, is incorrect. I measure everything that I go through to the loss of my dog.

    • Kate B

      November 14, 2013 at 6:03 pm

      Ok, cool, well obviously I misunderstood your opening statement about being a ‘horrible person for comparing (animals) to children’. That was my sole point all along – that it’s not very nice to compare the death of a baby to the death of a pet.
      In the context of the article, I think it was fair to assume that was what you meant.
      If that’s not the case, I repeat, what we arguing about?!

    • Kate B

      November 14, 2013 at 6:04 pm

      I didn’t call you tactless, I said it was tactless to compare the death of a pet to the death of a child. That’s the statement I’ve repeated all along. If you agree with me, I don’t understand what this argument is about!

    • Jamie

      November 19, 2013 at 11:03 pm

      well, okay, but then what do you care? This is for people to know what not to say to those who do feel things deeply. I don’t understand the point you are trying to make if these don’t even bother you. That they shouldn’t bother other people? It’s best for people to not hurt people that may be hurt by these than to just assume people might be more like you and not care. These things are good to have because most of us want to learn how to lessen the pain of those we care about that are having a hard time.

    • Paula Ma

      November 19, 2013 at 11:06 pm

      Okay, how about this. Don’t compare pain AT ALL. How hard would that be? You don’t need to find a common ground with people because even if you lost a baby too it wouldn’t help unless they asked for the information. No one wants someone to show up and make it all about themselves. The best thing to do might be to shut up and listen.

    • Fran G

      November 19, 2013 at 10:53 pm

      You’re still grieving all those lost grandpuppies and walking your dog down the aisle? I’m sorry, just no. I can’t stand this. I love my animals and I have had some major depression when I’ve lost one but this is insensitive bullshit. I hate it when people compare my losing my father as a child to them losing their grandparents because it is different. Animals die. They have a shorter lifespan than we do. Your grandparents die. My dad, as painful as it was, was supposed to die before me (though I’d argue far later than 50) but at least it makes some sort of sense. A child? A child should never die before a parent. That is grief I can’t imagine. I’m sure you hurt and still hurt a lot from your dog’s passing. I’m really not trying to say you can’t have those feelings and that people probably dismiss them all the time. But it isn’t comparable to this. Hell, my pain over my dad isn’t either. You cannot know until you have been there and I’m amazed that you would assume this. Would you like it if I said I know how you feel about your dog cause my lizard died? I loved that fucking lizard but I bet you wouldn’t take it so well.

  14. Valeri Jones

    November 13, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    I am so so sorry for your loss. I commend you for writing this beautiful story despite your pain and anger.

  15. JLH1986

    November 13, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    Sending you love and light. I’m so very sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing. I can’t imagine what it took to write that.

  16. Amber Starr

    November 13, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    I am so sorry for the loss of your beautiful baby. Thank you for sharing your story.

  17. alwaysmoving

    November 13, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    I am very sorry for your loss, and I thank you deeply for giving me the new perspective I needed today.

  18. Amanda

    November 13, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    I am so sorry. I hope you are able to find strength, courage and peace as you make your way on this journey. I lost my daughter at 23 weeks gestation almost 2 years ago, and not a day goes by that I don’t miss her and mourn for all the memories I will never have. But, I can say that you will learn to walk with this grief and make it your partner; it won’t always be so hard.

    The most helpful comments and thoughts were the simple ones — “I’m thinking about you,” “How are you doing” “Would you like to talk?” The people who supported me like this were like little candles that lit my way, reminding me I am surrounded by love; their light my own walk with grief less frightening.

    Also, specific offers of help — when can I bring you dinner, would you like me to pick up your car, do you need help with housework — were much more supportive than open-ended, vague, “what can I do to help?” I was in no position to be managing other people, and it felt like a tremendous burden to come up with ideas for other people to help me.

    I am holding you and your husband in my heart.

  19. JenT82

    November 13, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    I’m so sorry you’re going through this kind of loss. Our girl died almost four years ago (she was eight months old and had a genetic disorder). My husband and I were talking about her the other day, about how even when we don’t speak about her, it’s like her name and face are always there with us – in our blood maybe. There’s no life now without remembering we lost her. I think people can’t fathom that it’s a pain that, though it lessens, never fully heals on the earth. It’s easier some days and a battle on others. I’m thankful always to know that I’m not alone. I pray that today is an easier day and that you won’t feel alone on the days you have to battle.

  20. bb

    November 13, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    My brother lost his 17 year old son to cancer. I cannot tell you how many people told him this was just “God’s plan.” I get that you are trying to comfort but my brother just wanted to punch them in the face and say “then God freaking sucks lady!!!” Horrible.

    • Kelly

      November 13, 2013 at 11:18 pm

      Those are the same people who wonder why people lose their faith. SMH

    • EmmaFromÉire

      November 17, 2013 at 6:28 pm

      If someone’s god could be like that then I don’t want any part in that religion.

  21. Suzanne99876

    November 13, 2013 at 12:46 pm

    I have nothing to offer except that I’m so very sorry for your shattering loss and I hope you can find some comfort in your loved ones. No one should ever have to bury their child. I can’t imagine anything more anguishing. My heart breaks for you and I hope you can one day find some peace.

  22. break_time

    November 13, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    I am so sorry for your loss, and I am especially sorry for anyone who has had to endure such thoughtless (if well-intentioned) comments on top of a devastating tragedy. I had a doctor comment about God’s plan in passing after we lost our baby, and I was so shocked all I could do was nod dumbly. I was fortunate that his was the only insensitive comment, but they do stick in the memory.

  23. Marie

    November 13, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    I am so sorry for your loss and I don’t know how long it’s been, but the one I’d like to add is every variation of “Oh, you’re STILL grieving?” no matter how long it’s been. Yes it’s been five years and yes I only got one day with my son outside the womb and yes, the raw edges of the pain have turned into emotional callouses, but there are still days when it just hits me like a punch in the chest and the pain comes back in full force. And there doesn’t have to be a “reason” like a special day or anniversary, it just comes out of the blue. And it probably always will. So, yes, I’m still grieving and please don’t insinuate that I don’t have the right to no matter how many years have passed.

    • Evelyn

      November 14, 2013 at 5:16 am

      That is a truly awful thing for someone to say to you. I am sorry to hear that someone could say such a thing when you are already upset by a terrible loss.

  24. Alicia Kiner

    November 13, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    I am so so incredibly sorry for your family’s loss. I hope you can find comfort in each other.

  25. TwentiSomething Mom

    November 13, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    I am sorry for you and your husband’s loss and can’t believe you had to deal with those ignorant and insensitive comments you listed above.

  26. Rachel Sea

    November 13, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    I’m so sorry.

    There is no right or wrong way to grieve, anyone who faults you for how you learn to live with the loss of your son needs to put a sock in it – and possibly be cut out of your life.

    I hope you, and your husband, and your older children are all receiving counseling. I wish you happier times.

  27. Angela

    November 13, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    I can’t believe people would say such insensitive things to a grieving parent but finding the right thing to say can be hard. Thank you for not only outlining what not to say but what to say. And you are so right. No parent should ever lose a child. I’m so sorry that it happened to you.

  28. Melissa

    November 13, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    I’m so sorry for your loss, and I’m sorry that you have had to deal with the additional experience of ignorant people who just don’t get what’s appropriate and what isn’t in a situation like this. The thing is, though, that the phrase I find to be even worse than these insensitive ones is “There are no words”. I always want to be like, “Really? I think there are. Try to find some.” It’s really not hard to conjure up some comforting words for someone who is grieving, and it also shouldn’t be hard to do so without being unintentionally insulting/insensitive.

  29. Momgeleno

    November 13, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    I was gonna leave a comment but went into a writing frenzy and decided to post it on my blog instead. I, too, suffered the loss of my almost 3 month old daughter last year. And am still dealing with these dumbasses who have no clue how to act like decent human beings around me.
    Thank you for this post, I linked it. If interested, you can see my semi-rant at my blog momgeleno.tumblr.com
    Stay strong.

  30. Alexandra

    November 13, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    First of all, Alyson, I am so sorry for your loss. My heart is aching for you I cannot imagine anything so horrible.
    Some people suffer from diarrhea of the mouth, I’ve noticed, and instead of just saying “this is the most horrible thing I can imagine and I do not know what to say” they just say something to say something. Not all people, but some. Hopefully they realize that they’ve been incredibly insensitive and feel awful about it. I hope you don’t need to encounter any of these clods on a daily basis.

  31. Givemeabreak

    November 13, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    I want you to take your left arm and wrap it around your right side. Now take your right arm and wrap it around your left side. Now squeeze. That is a hug from me to you. I can’t/don’t want to imagine the hurt you have inside you. Bless you and your family and everyone impacted by your childs life.

  32. LiteBrite

    November 13, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    I am really sorry for your loss. I can’t imagine the pain you must be feeling.

  33. Michelle Pittman

    November 13, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    i am so, so, so, so, SO sorry for your loss…i have no idea how you feel and i cannot imagine the pain…and everything you mentioned above is absolutely true — things that people shouldn’t say…however, maybe some people just have no idea what to say or how to react to someone that has just experienced the Worst Possible Thing in Their Life Ever…and again, i am so very sorry for your horrible & unfair loss 🙁

  34. Amanda Rene Slinger

    November 13, 2013 at 1:47 pm

    It must have taken a tremendous amount of bravery to write this, thank you for sharing with us and I am so sorry for your loss. I wish more people felt they could be as honest about the grieving process as you are, as a culture I think we have fallen completely out of touch with death and the grieving process and the bereaved pay the price. Grief cannot be measured, quantified or limited, it is a lifelong process. As a funeral director, every time I hear someone spout one of these platitudes at a bereaved family member I want to slap them. Sure, sometimes death is a blessing but in a case like yours it’s a goddamn tragedy and should never be minimized with such ignorant comments.

  35. Momma425

    November 13, 2013 at 1:53 pm

    Alyson, I am so sorry for the loss of your beautiful baby. I can’t even imagine the pain and suffering you have been through.
    I lost my little boy 7 years ago now, and I still miss him and think about him every single day. It’s not fair, not right, and something no parent should ever have to go through. The stupid and unbelievably insensitive things people say make the pain that such worse.
    Wishing you peace on your journey.

  36. 4under4

    November 13, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    I am so sorry for your loss, your son was beautiful. The grief does dull but not a day goes by that you don’t feel the loss. After six years I still think of my Conner every day. I am so so sorry you have to go through this loss. It will get more bearable I promise. Brace yourself for future comments from idiots though, people can’t seem to understand that even if you have more children your heart is always missing the piece that you lost.

  37. Kate B

    November 13, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    I lost a son to cotdeath and I’ve had so many of these things said to me by well meaning people.
    The worst for me were ‘I know how you feel…my (pet) died’ and ‘it obviously wasn’t meant to be – mother nature knows what it’s doing’ and ‘at least it happened when he was young’.
    Just so staggeringly insensitive and off the mark.
    I know this might be controversial but I also found it really offensive when people said they knew exactly how I felt because they’d had an early (as in under 10 weeks) miscarriage. I KNOW miscarriage feels like a bereavement – I’ve had one myself at 12 weeks. I know it can be devastating and and a lot of families have a really hard time coping with them. But sorry, it’s just not the same as losing a 5 week old child.

    • Emil

      November 13, 2013 at 9:00 pm

      Thank you for adding this, it might be controversial but it needed to be said.

    • pigbot

      November 13, 2013 at 9:28 pm

      I have had five miscarriages and I would NEVER have the audacity to tell a mother of a lost child that I know how she feels. It angers me to think anyone would do that, but people are callous.

      I’d rather have a lifetime of repeat miscarriages than lose one living child. It can’t even compare.

    • Kate B

      November 14, 2013 at 2:56 pm

      Thank you Pigbot. I’m so sorry you’ve had to go through 5 miscarriages – that must have been horrendous and I’m so glad you understood that I wasn’t trying to diminish your pain.

    • Amber

      November 13, 2013 at 11:16 pm

      I just wanted to add my agreement to your sentiment. I’ve had an early miscarriage. It was not a fun experience for me. It was awful. It sucked.

      But it in no way compares to waking up and finding a blue baby or rushing to the hospital because you’re bleeding at five or six months pregnant and losing the pregnancy.

      Just. No. Comparison.

    • Kate B

      November 14, 2013 at 7:27 am

      Thanks guys, for all your feedback. I was a bit nervous about posting it because I wasn’t sure how people would react.
      I know some people will think I’m being cruel, but my intention was not in any way to diminish the pain and grief that a miscarriage can cause.
      When I went to my 12 week pregnancy scan to be told that my baby’s heart had stopped beating, I was devastated and it took me a while to get over it.
      But there was just no comparison between that and finding my son grey and lifeless in his moses basket a few years later.
      I’m not trying to suggest that this is a grief olympics and I’m not saying that unless you’ve experienced exactly what I have, you can’t comment on grief. Clearly, that’s nonsense.
      But it does hurt when people behave as though their early miscarriage was the same as me losing my son.

    • Awa

      December 17, 2013 at 11:31 am

      I would never compare the two because I don’t know what losing a living child is like, but as it’s been pointed out, different people deal with loss differently. It would hurt just as much for someone who’s lost a living child to tell me that my grief doesn’t compare or is somehow less valid because my child died in the womb. The anguish and guilt are in no way diminished by age or gestation, and all the hopes and dreams you carry for a living baby aren’t more valuable than those you carry for one still in the womb, nor are they less valuable than the hopes and dreams you have for an older child. I think it’s okay for you to feel differently about two separate losses you’ve experienced, but no one should compare your grief to theirs or vice versa. There’s just no scale to measure the two, because everyone experiences these losses differently, and when we start comparing the size of our grief, we start losing perspective. I wouldn’t rather have had my miscarriage instead my living child dying, I’d just rather not have lost a child at all.

  38. Cliff

    November 13, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    Jesus I cant believe people say this shit!

  39. personal

    November 13, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    What a well-written (and helpful) post. Thank you for sharing that with us. Sometimes people need reminding. I am so very, very sorry for your loss. I wish you well and hope you find comfort.

  40. MommyK

    November 13, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    I am so sorry for the loss of your son, and I’m sorry that people have said these insensitive things to you. Thank you for sharing this….when others around me lose a loved one, I am often times stuck for what to say. Wishing you all the best.

  41. gothicgaelicgirl

    November 13, 2013 at 3:53 pm

    I am so so sorry for your loss.
    I hope you and your family can grieve in peace and comfort and not have to worry about people making insensitive comments.

  42. DatNanny

    November 13, 2013 at 3:57 pm

    I am so deeply sorry for your loss.

    I truly can’t comprehend the cluelessness and lack of tact or empathy some people have. I’m sorry you had to deal with these people.

  43. TheGiantPeach

    November 13, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    Alyson, thank you for sharing your story. I’m so sorry for the loss of Xavier, I saw his pictures and he was a beautiful baby. I think the work you’re doing through Xavier’s Ashes is a wonderful idea, and I hope it brings you some kind of peace and healing to know you’re helping others.

  44. Audrey

    November 13, 2013 at 4:30 pm

    I am so sorry for your loss. I try to give people the benefit of the doubt when it comes to saying things to someone in grief, because no one REALLY knows what to say, but some people are just so insensitive it’s hard to believe.

    As far as the whole “at least they were young” thing, my aunt gave birth to a baby that died within a day, and I can’t imagine anything worse than having this wonderful baby just long enough to bond with it, and then have it taken away from you.

    All I can say is that I’m in awe of your strength to even be able to write about your experiences, and I truly believe that you will get through this.

  45. Katia

    November 13, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    I think I would feel the same way, I agreed with everything on your list. Very sad to think about..

  46. Edify

    November 13, 2013 at 5:00 pm

    I really want to hug you. I’m sorry for your loss and for other peoples insensitivity. You are doing a wonderful positive thing to in your sons name to help other people which I think is amazing and I hope over time it brings you some peace.

  47. Alyson Trent

    November 13, 2013 at 5:04 pm

    I have been trying all day to think of something to say, and just get overwhelmed with emotion every time I attempt to do so, this was so hard to write and so scary to submit. Thank you so much for publishing this for me and thank you to everyone for reading – the kind words mean so very much. To all the angels mommies and daddies – I am so very sorry for your losses as well.

    • ElleJai

      November 13, 2013 at 9:36 pm

      I am so sorry for your loss. Are you accepting hugs?

    • Alyson Trent

      November 13, 2013 at 9:41 pm

      I am always accepting hugs : )

      and thank you.

    • ElleJai

      November 13, 2013 at 10:04 pm

      *HUGS*

    • CrazyLogic

      November 14, 2013 at 12:27 am

      *hugs from CrazyLogic too*

  48. dropping in

    November 13, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    I would like to thank the author for her family’s program to support other parents in their time of loss. It never ceases to amaze me how parents who have lost children find ways to honour their memories, despite what must be constant reminders of their own pain. Such selflessness despite the anger and hurt is impressive.

    • Alyson Trent

      November 14, 2013 at 12:00 am

      Thank you. When we left the hospital we left with nothing. No one offered to take pictures ( yea it sounds morbid but these things become important) we had no idea what to do, we did realize we had choices, that we could have taken more time to say goodbye. After the fog cleared and I learned about these programs run by other baby loss moms I knew that was what I had to do. I could not have another parent leave the hospital the way we did, at the very least I had to let them know they weren’t alone

  49. sallyjone

    November 13, 2013 at 5:34 pm

    I don’t understand why people feel the need to say anything besides some variation of “I’m sorry, I’m here for you, is there anything I can do for you.” It’s like people believe the right words will magically make an immeasurable loss go away. Also, a lot of these comments are so self-centred. “MY cat died” “If it were ME, I wouldn’t know what to do”, etc.

  50. Lily

    November 13, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    And my response to the people that use the “it’s god’s plan” and other similar bullshit….: Don’t ever tell me that it was “god’s plan.” It just makes me thing you’re both assholes.

    • Zoe Lansing

      November 13, 2013 at 8:01 pm

      Another “favorite” is “God must of needed another angel.” Damn, God must be pretty damn greedy and impatient!

  51. cabecb

    November 13, 2013 at 7:13 pm

    My great aunt P lost three of her adults daughters over a ten year period. It was very hard for her even through they were adults and they had lives of their own. It was hard for us watching our aunt in her grief. One of my other aunt L offered her support because her daughter died of cancer at a young age. I don’t think anyone said anything that bad to her. We tried to be respectful of her grief and to offer as much support as we could.

  52. Talija

    November 13, 2013 at 7:28 pm

    Oh good god, number three pisses me off so much. Our first son was stillborn and THIS just I can’t even… What, I don’t love my son as much as you love your child because I still manage to function? I’m a bad mother for not taking my life? Just what exactly is it that you think I’m supposed to be doing?

    Losing a child is like walking face first into a brick wall you didn’t even know was there. It hurts, and it leaves you dazed and confused, and unable to understand why no one else even seems to notice the wall is there.

    I also lost count of the number of times I wanted to smack people in the face for telling me “It’ll all be different next time” or “You can always get pregnant again”. I never wanted a replacement, I wanted my son back.

    I was lucky enough to have aome amazing close friends you never once batted an eyelid at listening to me sob my way through the thoughts in my head to them, well into the wee hours of the morning.

    For us it’s been five years, and I rarely talk about my son outside of our immediate family, I know no one wants to hear about it anymore. It’s been five years this month and I’m supposed to be over it.

    You never get over it, you learn to live with it, but you don’t get over it.

    • Zoe Lansing

      November 13, 2013 at 8:10 pm

      “You never get over it,you learn to live with it,but you don’t get over it.” Exactly.It’s amazing how many people think grief is like a cold that you just recover from after a certain amount of time.I’m sorry for your loss and understand your continuing grief.

    • ElleJai

      November 13, 2013 at 9:34 pm

      My mom lost her eldest child at birth. He was originally a twin, resulting from IVF; so she felt she’d lost two babies and then felt guilty just about the whole way through my gestation, because it felt too soon to move on from grieving my brother. I was a surprise baby conceived naturally 8 months later.

      Her most hated comment was “you can always have another one”. She only wanted this one! The baby it took over 5 years and 20 operations to get pregnant with. The baby she carried for 40 weeks, loved and prepared her house and life for. Another one is not required, just the baby you’re supposed to have. Mom didn’t even get to hold him and say a proper goodbye because she had nearly died, then had an emergency c-section, and was groggy from the anaesthetic and had barely any blood in her veins. She regrets not throwing open his coffin and just holding him at his funeral, and it’s her biggest regret.

      Nothing will take that pain away from my parents. My dad still cries too, and it’s been nearly 28 years. So the idea of it being easier on men is sexist rubbish.

      My son has his uncle’s name for a middle name, in honour of a man I will never meet but have always loved.

    • American expat in Europe

      November 17, 2013 at 7:28 pm

      I agree. My mom and dad lost their firstborn the first week of life. They both cried throughout their lives for him. My mom said the first time she ever really saw him cry was when they lost him. Sadly, my father has since passed away. Like another commenter, he died suddenly while I was 5 months pregnant. Not a lot of people understood my grief, compounded by an already difficult pregnancy (emotionally and physically) followed by postpartum depression. I was a wreck and all I kept hearing were the same comments about god or his age or the fact I had a baby now and needed to move on. People are stupid sometimes.

    • Alyson Trent

      November 13, 2013 at 11:47 pm

      I am so sorry for the loss of your son as well. It always gets me as well when people tell me how upset they are about Xavier passing because it makes me feel like I have upset them in some way. Like, I’m really sorry you cried for a week after my baby died..ill try not to let that happen again? And I didn’t address it because I know it varies so much from woman to woman but the whole “you can have another” thing sends me into a panic as well..I can’t actually be around babies without panicking. The thought of being pregnant makes me physically ill with anxiety. And I know so many moms of babies born still who also get massive anxiety at the thought of being pregnant. I wish people realized that for a large number of woman babies are now traumatic.

    • Amanda

      November 14, 2013 at 12:00 pm

      Unfortunately, I was in the middle of giving an exam when I read this comment and this article. I made it through fine until I saw this comment.

      Yes, yes, and yes. I live abroad, but having a close network of American friends who work with me. They are lovely, intelligent women who are in their late 20’s- mid 30’s. And I’ve heard nearly every point on your list.

      My son was stillborn 9 months ago.

      I am the youngest of these friends and colleagues, and in response to my grief over my son, I get a lot of really insensitive comments. Such as :

      “but now you can do ___, ___ and ___.. You have another chance at getting another degree, or advancing at work!”

      Or “you can have more babies. You’re still young”

      Or my personal favorite: ” at least he wasn’t, you know, 10 years old or something. That would have been much worse.”

      When I am in close proximity to an infant whom I am expected to socialize with , such as the babies of colleagues or mutual friends (something I actively and desperately try to avoid)…I turn red. I get splotchy, my blood pressure spikes, and my hands start to shake. I can deal for a little while, but will invariably have to excuse myself and go cry in some discreet location.

      Society wants me to be happy for my friends, and their beautiful, cooing, lively babies. And on some level, I am. Of course I am. But no one seems to understand why spending time with other peoples living, breathing, happy infants might send me over the proverbial edge. My son is in a tiny box in my underwear drawer. He will never walk or talk or go to preschool or graduate college. I’ll never teach him anything, I’ll never hear his voice. I still cannot bear to rid my house of all of his things. I can’t sleep without dreaming of him, I can’t hold a baby without feeling like someone has taken a tiny spoon and carved out my chest cavity.

      I love babies. I always have. But seeing them, being with them, turns me into a puddle of anxious mess. And then I’m embarrassed about it- because who doesn’t LOVE being around babies?

      I have never met anyone, or heard of anyone feeling the way I do. I’m sorry for the rambly comment. I am just so relieved and astounded to see that someone feels in a similar way. Sometimes, I just wish I had someone to talk to. Someone who maybe could understand.

    • Alyson Trent

      November 14, 2013 at 12:52 pm

      Oh god, I get the “at least he was only a month old” ALL THE TIME. Cause that’s easier? I don’t know how..but apparently it is supposed to be…if you stop and think about that comment for even 3 seconds you realize it makes no sense. And considering I woke up to a non breathing infant that I had nursed not only an hour and half before hand…how is ANYTHING about this situation..better? And I know so many moms of stillborns who get similar comments, it is so WTF I can barely respond to it.

      That is SO NORMAL! The anxiety around babies and pregnant woman. However yes, it is something most people do not understand. Just about every single woman in my SIDS support group can not be around a baby without extreme anxiety. Forget seeing an infant that is sleeping…i can’t even think about it without getting queasy. I belong to another support group for all types of losses and that is talked about DAILY – anxiety and fear and general confusion of emotions around babies and pregnant woman. The only way I know to say it is like this, you don’t go through this without some form of mental damage..you just don’t.

      It is another thing that upset me – not only was I robbed of my son, I was robbed of my love of babies. Cause i do, I love babies and now, I can’t go near the baby section in a store without a solid dose of Ativan.

      Hon, email me! please? If your on facebook I’ll give you my personal account. I know lots of support groups online and I have a ton of baby loss friends on my facebook page. And I would be more than happy to talk to you anytime. Friends and family are wonderful and great – but sometimes, us angel mamas need each other to talk to, sometimes we are the only ones who understand. (this goes for any angel parents/grandparents)

    • Talija

      November 14, 2013 at 1:09 pm

      I get that all the time too, or a paraphrased version anyway, usually “It would have been worse if you’d had time to get to know him”.

      I’m sorry? Do you not realise half of my grief is for that exact reason? Is this supposed to make me feel better?

    • Amanda

      November 14, 2013 at 2:32 pm

      I added you on facebook 🙂 My name is Amanda, so you’ll recognize me.

      So much of what you said resonated with me. I, too, feel that I’ve been robbed of my love of children (babies, more specifically.) I have gotten to a point where I don’t even remember when being around infants didn’t upset me, and I am astounded when I see my friends interact with babies with such ease! If I even HEAR about a party (or a baby shower) I start getting anxious…and I don’t even have to go!

      I hope you’ll add me on facebook. I can’t explain how relieved I am to read all you’ve been writing. I thought I was alone.

    • Kate B

      November 14, 2013 at 3:12 pm

      Thanks for this Alyson. I absolutely agree. It hurts so much when people say ‘at least he was only a month old’. Like you, I feel robbed of my son. I gave birth to him, breastfed him, bathed him, hugged him, looked after him, loved him with all my heart. I had every expectation of seeing him grow up and watching him live the rest of his life.
      I feel so angry and sad about all those precious moments that were stolen from us – his first word, learning to walk, going to school, his first girlfriend.
      This must be an awful thing for stillbirth loss parents to hear too. I can take some comfort from my memories of caring for my son,feeding him, seeing him smile; but stillbirth parents have been robbed of even that.
      It doesn’t make things easier having less time with your child. In fact, it’s tragic to think of all the life they’ve missed out on and all the precious moments that have ripped away from you. I’m sure, like me, you would have been grateful to have had any amount of extra time with your child.

    • Talija

      November 14, 2013 at 1:01 pm

      The whle having another thing. I swung wildly between “I must be pregnant again RIGHT THIS SECOND” and “I never want to be pregnant again”

      I think part of it for me was because he was stillborn, like half of me felt if I could get pregnant again before his due date (he was 10 weeks early) then it never would have happened. Illogical, yes, but grief is.

      The other half of me was absolutely 100% certain that getting pregnant again was the stupidest idea in the world, because it would all happen again, and only a moron deliberately sets themself up for something like that.

      Oh and the unintentional guilt. The upsetting of other people. You do feel guilty, people are upset because of their association to you, and you never meant to hurt anyone, but there they are, crying, and if they didn’t know you, they wouldn’t be. But there’s always the anger too. The voice inside your head who instead of smiling and nodding wants to just scream:

      “You’re upset? You cried for a week? I haven’t stopped crying yet, I’m not sure I ever CAN stop crying. It hurts just to breathe. My arms ache with the weight that isn’t in them, physically ache. And the worst part is sometimes, for a split second when I first wake up, I forget. It feels like a dream, and I’m waking up now, thank god. Then it hits you all over again, that all you wake up to anymore is a nightmare. You don’t even KNOW upset”

    • Alyson Trent

      November 14, 2013 at 1:27 pm

      OMG! Exactly. To everything!

      The aching arms thing, oh god…I actually had a bear made that weighs the same as Xavier..I had to, I was going nuts. It’s was either that or i was going to order a reborn doll, cause my sanity was slipping at that point to say the least. And that’s the other thing…thing that made no sense before to me…like reborn dolls for example, they do now. There are days the grief gets so bad I can look at those and go “that makes total sense, I need one.”

    • Kate B

      November 14, 2013 at 3:18 pm

      This really resonates with me too.
      I actually had people I considered friends cross the road to avoid me, because being around me made them feel so uncomfortable. It really hurt that they couldn’t put aside their discomfort for my sake. After all, if the death of my child made them feel upset and uncomfortable, how on earth did they think I was feeling?
      I did get pregnant again after losing my son, and I posted a picture of my son on the babycentre forum for people with the same due date as me. I had a message of the forum administrator asking me to remove the photo, because several pregnant women had messaged her saying how ‘inappropriate’ it was to have a picture like that on a forum for pregnant women. I was reminded that pregnant women are often hormonal and easily distressed and I should bear in mind the fact that I might be upsetting people by discussing my son. I was speechless at how cruel and callous some people can be. I was quite literally being asked not to mention my loss, in case I cause pregnant women to feel uncomfortable.

    • Alyson Trent

      November 14, 2013 at 10:07 pm

      I had that happen as well. not on babycenter though, but I was asked to remove a picture of Xavier from a forum because it was too upsetting to some of the other moms. Not because Xavier it was a picture of Xavier after he passed away, he was alive in the pictures, actually only about 10 days old…but because he was not alive anymore, they didn’t want me sharing his picture. Apparently, it was too painful for other people to see him. Cause I guess if they can’t see a picture of my baby that died…that means babies don’t really die. This wasn’t even a parenting forum or anything. People were just sharing pictures of their babies.

    • Marisa Miller

      November 14, 2013 at 10:15 pm

      We moved to be near my husband’s family when I was 6 mos. pregnant. I was due at the same time as my sister-in-law. Riley was stillborn and every thing that you posted, my husband’s asshole family did. Including trying like hell over and over to get me to be around my niece. I wanted to fucking kill everybody. It took almost 3 years for me to be able to be anywhere near a baby. It’s okay. Don’t do ANYTHING that makes you feel that way to appease anyone. Certain members of husband’s family stopped speaking to us b/c I was such a bitch about this (Virginia Madsen, in case you would like to boycott her shitty acting career. I like outing her for this and other assholery) but I didn’t care. It made me sick to see babies. Couldn’t go anywhere where there were any. Would have to rush thru shopping. You nailed every bit of this and I’m so sorry you had to and I had to and hugs for you and a huge IT FUCKING SUCKS. Because it does.

    • Marisa Miller

      November 14, 2013 at 10:59 pm

      I wanted to add that I was 37 weeks when she died so that no one thinks I’m comparing miscarrying and stillbirth. I though they would give me a c-section but they induce you and make you deliver. I kept my eyes closed the whole time and wouldn’t look because I was afraid it would scar me worse than knowing she would be dead. My husband actually went wherever you go that isn’t the nursery and helped wash her and hold her. I’m blown away that he could do that and I couldn’t but I would have gone crazy, I know it.

    • Kate B

      November 14, 2013 at 3:00 pm

      Thanks for this Tanja. You are absolutely right.
      When I lost my son, many eyebrows were raised at how ‘well’ I appeared to be coping.
      In truth, I was absolutely numb. It was like some sort of defence mechanism – my body knew it couldn’t handle the full impact of my loss. so it shut down.
      I felt guilt at the way I was reacting to my grief, and other people’s judgement made me feel even worse.
      It took a few years before I was able to really acknowledge my loss, but once those tears started, I barely stopped crying for months. However, as this was several years later, people were bemused, obviously thinking I should’ve ‘got over it’ by now.
      Grief is not some linear, predictable process and everyone reacts differently to it. We need to stop judging the bereaved and allow them to grieve in whatever way they need to.

  53. jendra_berri

    November 13, 2013 at 8:23 pm

    I am so very sorry. No parent should ever have to bury their child.
    Number 5 is a hallmark of assholes. Someone said something similar about my mother’s death, how cancer is a way of thinning out the population. Couldn’t then understand why I started to cry. Depersonalizing someone you loved and loss to a mere natural occurrence is heartless.
    But that you heard all 10 of those terrible comments is shocking. I can only imagine your loss and I hope you have way more supportive people around you to greatly outnumber these thoughtless jerks.

  54. CG

    November 13, 2013 at 9:05 pm

    Ugh, someone asked you why you wanted to have a funeral/memorial? Who DOES that?!? I’m so sorry for your loss.

    • Alyson Trent

      November 13, 2013 at 11:51 pm

      Its really not uncommon for parents of young infants to hear this..its more common with parents who have had babies born still though. A lot of people think it is silly or unneeded to have a funeral or memorial for an infant.

    • Zoe Lansing

      November 14, 2013 at 2:10 pm

      If it’s important to the parents,it’s very needed and not at all silly.I’m so sorry someone even questioned this.

    • Talija

      November 14, 2013 at 3:32 pm

      The *Hospital* asked us this. If, after the post mortem, did we want the body back for a service or did we want it “disposed” of. Really? ANYONE picks option 2?

    • Alyson Trent

      November 14, 2013 at 9:32 pm

      It makes me so sick that any hospital would EVER say that and I have heard so many mothers say that they were asked that by the hospital. The sad thing is so many moms are in such a state of shock they don’t know what to do and they don’t realize that most funeral homes will not charge full price (some, like our don’t charge at all) for an infant. They are so confused they don’t realize they have other options.

    • angus young

      November 14, 2013 at 10:15 pm

      Many parents do choose the second option. That is okay too.

    • Alyson Trent

      November 14, 2013 at 11:14 pm

      oh yes, it is – there are no right or wrong choices when faced with these decisions. It’s like getting to choose between feeling horrible and worse. Just some of the ways I have heard it phrased by family and such is..insensitive..to say the least. And many moms I have spoken to didnt realize that a funeral was even an option. I know for so many one is too painful, it more upsets me when I hear they just didn’t know they could.

    • angus young

      November 14, 2013 at 9:54 pm

      Yes. Lots of people choose that option. I am a pathologist and it is quite common in the places I have worked.
      ETA- I should clarify that that is common only in cases of “stillbirth”

    • nikki753

      November 20, 2013 at 7:21 pm

      Sounds to me like hospitals need to have people on staff or volunteers from some appropriate profession need to be on call to take care of parents facing such a thing. Someone to talk options, to shuttle them home if they don’t have family there by the time they’re ready to leave, someone to prepare their home for them in the way they wish…

  55. pigbot

    November 13, 2013 at 9:26 pm

    Alyson, my heart still hurts for you. It has since I found out. And not just because I read the article and know what to say now, but I have no idea what you’re going through, and I’m so sorry that this happened. I truly am.

    I went to the funeral of a stillborn infant several years ago, and the minister insisted nobody ever tell anyone that their loved one’s death was ‘God’s will/plan/etc’ – though I’m not super religious, that advice stuck through. It’s one thing I wish everyone could hear and understand and REMEMBER in the moment.

  56. GPMeg

    November 13, 2013 at 9:30 pm

    Alyson, thank you so much for sharing. A dear friend of mine’s 2 year old died suddenly about 2mos ago and she has heard every single one of these things. Thank you for taking a few minutes to write this because, hopefully, someone who would have said one of their friends will find it and reconsider their comments!

  57. C.J.

    November 13, 2013 at 11:11 pm

    I’m so sorry for your loss. My sister’s son died at 2 days old. I was grateful she not only had a funeral for him but it was an open casket. I was in the hospital still from having my daughter when he died. We were at different hospitals so I only got to see him at his funeral. I can’t imagine not having a funeral just because the deceased is a baby. That makes no sense to me, a baby is a person. We have funerals for everyone else, why not a baby. It’s been 11 years and I can still picture his face and think about him all the time. I wish I would have been able to hold him. I can’t imagine how hard the last 11 years have been for my sister. I can’t even imagine how horrible it is to lose a child.

  58. SarahJesness

    November 13, 2013 at 11:14 pm

    My condolences. Really bizarre that people would ask the funeral thing. Erm, babies are considered people in our society. So why not?

  59. CrazyLogic

    November 13, 2013 at 11:57 pm

    I am at a loss for words at both what you and your family are going through and the fact that people have actually said this to you. It’s horrible.

  60. Evelyn

    November 14, 2013 at 4:59 am

    I am so very sorry for your loss. I am also sorry to hear that thoughtless comments from others at a hideously awful time for you and your family are adding to your distress. While I can only imagine the pain you are going through after your loss I can understand why all of the comments listed have been upsetting for you, they are all of them tactless and upsetting. Thank you for sharing, I know I will remember this list and think carefully when talking to bereaved parents and parents of kids with terminal or life limiting conditions.

  61. Janok Place

    November 14, 2013 at 5:42 am

    I am so sorry for your loss, and I would like to thank you a hundred times over for your post. I cannot relate to your loss, and I truly hope I never can. What you have said will save countless grieving parents the anguish and frustration of those who cannot understand, and may not have known what to say. I don’t know you, and we will never meet but your words will always be there. I will always remember.

  62. candlesoffate .

    November 14, 2013 at 6:13 am

    It’ll be 10 years in January and I’m still grieving. She didn’t make it out of the delivery room. My nurses wasted no time in telling me the doctor didn’t see any reason I wouldn’t be able to have another baby. It was just before my 21st birthday. The one I heard over and over again is things happen for a reason. One of the most heart breaking memories I have is my husband taking all the baby furniture out of her room and into storage. Before that, when he was at work, I’d go in there and sit in the middle of room wailing. It took YEARS to overcome my grief. In 2009 I was told I wouldn’t be able to conceive a baby naturally and had made peace long before. I had already thought I would never be a mother. A year later I was pregnant with my son, naturally. I look at him and wonder what it would’ve been like all those years ago. I am so sorry for your loss. As time goes by the people around you forget but will be reminded when they something stupid.

  63. Kaeli

    November 14, 2013 at 6:52 am

    In all loss situations, especially ones as absolutely heartbreaking as this, I always go with “That’s fucked up. Life is unfair and bullshit sometimes and I’m sorry. I’m always here for anything, related or not.” It’s the only thing that is totally honest and sincere. Also I personally know, the grieving appreciate your swearing most. No polite word can begin to express how loss feels.

    • Zoe Lansing

      November 14, 2013 at 12:48 pm

      Bravo!A girl I was friendly with but not particularly close to said something similar to me after my sister died.I immediately hugged her out of shear gratitude for her not sounding like a poorly written Hallmark card but an actual human being who was not afraid to speak the truth.She very quickly became one of my closest friends and we’re still very close today.Sometimes all people want is validation that,yes,it really does majorly suck,no,it’s really not at all fair,and ,yes, it’s totally acceptable to be really fucking angry about it.

    • Alyson Trent

      November 14, 2013 at 1:55 pm

      The hands down nicest thing anybody said to me during the first few weeks was “This is the fucked up thing in the world, of course you feel like shit – your SUPPOSED to feel like shit. Your baby died.”

      I was so over the moon happy with the blunt honesty, it actually made me feel better.

  64. Securus GPS

    November 14, 2013 at 7:32 am

    Sometimes, it’s almost better not to “say” anything but rather – just physically ‘doing’ things for that grieving parent – whether it’s going food shopping or stopping over to help clean the house, cook dinner, etc. Actions speak louder than words.

  65. fairymama

    November 14, 2013 at 8:45 am

    Alyson, and all the other grieving parents, I am so sorry for your loss! It is a terrible group we all now belong to. One which should never have another member. I lost my nine year old daughter just over a year ago, and my 3 month-old nephew ten years ago.
    Numbers one, two and three really resonated with me. It makes me sad when people assume they know how they would react to such a tragedy. I admit, I always thought I would shrivel and die if anything were to happen to my children. Every day is a struggle for sanity. But, now that I know how precious every moment is, I can’t imagine wasting it. My girl loved life and lived it as fully as a nine year old can. How could I do any less? Number one makes me angry. I had many, many people make this comment to me in the days and weeks that followed her very sudden death. Firstly, because they assume I believe in the same God they do. I’m very proudly, but very quietly, a Pagan. And two, if your God is so powerful, why did he need my little girl to do his job? I thought she was doing a damn good job making the world a beautiful place right here. And, most importantly, number two – well, not only am I at an age where I just don’t have the energy to start over with another child, but how could any child live up to my girl? What a burden to place on a young soul. My energies now focus solely on her 14 year old brother and no one could replace her in his eyes.
    Please know that my heart is with you, Alyson! I hope you continue Xavier’s Ashes and that it brings you some comfort in the dark times and hope for the future. We raised money with a golf tournament in my girl’s name and donated it to the Children’s Hospital where she was a patient. It was one of the few things that felt good in the last year.

  66. blh

    November 14, 2013 at 9:37 am

    How awful for you. I can’t imagine. The thought of losing my son sends me into a panic. I think number 3 is particularly insensitive bc I know I would never want to get out of bed again and I imagine you felt the same way but you HAD to go on for your other children. You didn’t have a choice.
    Oh and the person who compared it to losing a cat would’ve gotten punched in the mouth.

    • Lexi

      November 14, 2013 at 12:10 pm

      Wait. you’re saying that some one like me who lost not only a cousin due to cancer but an eight day old baby along with a cat that was as old as I was (22) when she died in the same year should be punched in the mouth. The loss of my cat and cousin actually affected me more than the loss of my baby, because i wasn’t one of those parents who felt an instant bond with their child and still didn’t think he was real when he died, i truly didn’t believe he was mine. Now Salome I had since I was 2 and thought of her like a sister. so when she died I grieve just as if I had lost another family member, whereas when i looked at my son’s urn i felt no sense of loss and still don’t. So yes losing an animal to me is the same as losing any human.

    • Zoe Lansing

      November 14, 2013 at 1:18 pm

      When I wrote my comment above (in response to an earlier comment you made) I didn’t realize that you’ve also lost a baby.I apologize for making assumptions.I still think,however,that your situation is highly unusual and that,for the vast majority of people,the loss of a child has a far greater impact than the loss of a pet.As a licensed clinical social worker and trauma counselor,I’ve done quite a bit of research on grief and loss and have some clinical experience with grieving individuals and communities,as well.Everything I’ve both seen and read indicates that the loss of son or daughter is almost always the most traumatic loss an individual can experience in his or her lifetime.There are exceptions to this,of course,but it is still close enough to a universal truth to make it pretty reasonable for one to assume that the loss of a child would almost certainly hurt more than the loss of a pet.Again,I’m not trying to trivialize the loss of your cat,just point out that, for most people,the loss of a pet,while painful, is not nearly as painful as the loss of a son or daughter.

  67. Lexi

    November 14, 2013 at 10:17 am

    I’m very sorry for your loss. But i have one problem with this post. It’s when you talk about when pets die not being comparable to when a human (of any age) dies. Have you been with an animal for 13 to 16 years who has pretty much been part of the family since you got them? I had my cat, Salome, for almost my whole life (she was 20 when she died, I’d had her since I was 3, I’m 23 now), losing her was like I had lost a sister and friend not just some pet, especially since my cousin died the year before @ age 19 to neuroblastoma, who was also like a sister to me. So yes I do know what it is like to lose something you love with your very self, not just humans but animals as well. So when someone tells you that they now how you feel because a pet had died, they are not trivializing your child’s (or who ever) death, they most likely are experiencing the same sort of loss you must feel. So saying to me, Oh it’s just a cat that died IS as insensitive as me telling you that it’s just your child who died. Though I am truly sorry for your loss.

    • Zoe Lansing

      November 14, 2013 at 11:58 am

      I don’t think anyone’s intention was to trivialize the loss of a pet or to say “it’s just a cat that died.”Of course she wasn’t “just” a cat.She was your friend,your companion,an important and irreplaceable part of your life.You loved her and still do.You miss her and always will.I get that,I really do.I’ve lost a beloved cat (who I had from ages 18 months-almost 18,so basically my entire childhood) and was devastated.As painful as that loss was,it was still in no way comparable to the loss of my sister almost 2 years later.I’m sorry,but it just wasn’t.I’m almost positive that very few people who’ve lost siblings would say the loss of a pet hurt just as much or was the same kind of loss.For the vast majority of people,the loss of a pet is a terribly sad life event.The loss of a sibling — particularly when it comes prior to old age– is a major life-altering trauma from which one never fully recovers.This is even more true for the loss of a child (at any age).Losing my cat hurt so much I cried myself to sleep for weeks and still get sad thinking about it over 8 years later.Losing my sister hurt infinitely more than that and always will. The pain my parents will live with for the rest of their lives is even greater than mine.

    • h

      November 23, 2013 at 5:41 am

      This. More pointedly, Lexi described a situation (an atypical one) in which the loss of her cat did hurt more than the loss of her child. While everyone’s grief experience is valid, everyone’s is unique, and even if you do have an atypical experience, you can never equate it. We all have a loss in our lives that we see as the most terrible that we have been through: whether that be a parent, a grandparent, a child, a sibling, a partner, a friend, a pet… but no matter what, each of those relationships is different, each situation of loss is different, and each person experiencing the grief is different. The loss of a pet is not the same as the loss of a parent, the los of a spouse is not the same as the loss of a child, and so on. There is common ground in certain aspects, but it is never the same, even with the same relationship: my boyfriend’s mom passed away last year and both of his grandparents on her side are still living. They know the pain of a loss of a child, but it is not completely the same as the pain of losing an infant (not necessarily more or less, but different in a number of ways). To say you know how it is because you lost so and so comes from a place of caring, but is not helpful: every loss is different and everyone processes grief differently. It is impossible to completely equate one loss to another. All you can do is be there for that person, even if you don’t know what their pain is like. I’ve never lost a parent and don’t know how it feels, so I am there for my bf without pretending to know what it is like. If he feels like he wants to talk with someone who has been there, there are ways to do that (his brother, his grandparents, his father, a support group if he wanted, etc). I don’t need to pretend to know just because I have had other losses in my life. I just need to be there for him.

    • Alyson Trent

      November 14, 2013 at 11:27 pm

      I am sorry you lost your beloved cat. I really am and please don’t think I am being sarcastic. Yes, I have had pets long term – my whole life actually. I sit here with two dogs at my feet and three cats in the house. I have had cats from kittenhood to death. I had one cat die very tragically and it completely destroyed me for a couple weeks. i was quite upset. And I completely understand that losing a pet is very traumatic to a lot of people. But, i’m sorry – it’s not the same as burying your child. or waking up to find your healthy infant not breathing. It just isn’t. I’m not trying to play the game of who hurts worse, but I would trade everyone of my pets for one more moment with my son – and I just can’t say that about my pets…it just doesn’t go the reverse. I don’t expect my cats and dogs to outlive me either. They have shorter lifespans. You don’t expect to bury a child. ever. I would never say “oh its just a cat that died” I know that loss hurts. However, I expect the same respect that people wouldn’t tell me their pet was the same type of loss as my son.

    • Lexi

      November 16, 2013 at 12:50 am

      I have Buried a child. My own 8 day old son in fact. My cat’s death affected me more than my son’s, mainly cause a) Alexander was the son of my rapist and b) as such i didn’t think he was really mine or real, and still don’t. He died due to an infection he got during his circumcision. That was more than two years ago and the death of Salome still affects me as does the death of my cousin Krysten.

    • Alyson Trent

      November 16, 2013 at 9:01 am

      I am sorry that happened to you. And i am sorry for your losses. However, that really is outside the norm. And the entire point was, that it is tacky, rude, insensitive and insulting to actually, in real life, compare the passing of a pet or other animal to the passing of an child to a parent that is actively grieving and upset. No matter how much of an animal lover they are, if they are upset and actively grieving their child (I am not including you or those that are not upset about the loss of their child, i am saying for those of us that are) it is not the same and is not something that should ever be done. It’s insulting. I am not saying your loss is greater than mine or doesn’t count. I am saying it is hurtful and quite upsetting that when you are talking about the death of your child, for someone to say that they understood because they lost an animal. It is not appropriate at that moment in time. Find someone else to discuss your personal loss with and how it is effecting you, it is not the time to burden the bereaved – they are not there to comfort you, you are there to comfort them. I hope that clears things up a little

  68. Kay_Sue

    November 14, 2013 at 10:47 am

    I have tears running down my face reading this. I can’t believe anyone could be so senseless. I am so sorry for your loss. (stranger cyber hug)

  69. Kimberly

    November 14, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    *hugs* It’s all I can offer, there just really aren’t words. 🙁

  70. AlbinoWino

    November 14, 2013 at 7:22 pm

    When my brother was murdered at the age of 15 people said the worst things to my family. I hate to say it but it definitely pushed me away from religion and I am never going back. People said things to my mother like, “you just didn’t pray hard enough” or “he’s better off in heaven”. It was a high profile case of murder (there were many victims) so a lot of people were more interested in getting the insider details of the murder rather than offering much in the way of condolences. “Where was he when he was shot?” or “where on his body was he shot?” or “do you think he knew the shooters?”. People are fucking terrible sometimes. I occasionally still fantasize about going back and just slapping some of these people.

  71. scooby23

    November 14, 2013 at 8:25 pm

    #8-People actually say that? Holy heck. That is probably one of the worst things EVER said in the HISTORY OF EVER. I can’t even comprehend how functioning people let that word vomit spew out of their mouths. Sorry SuperMom, I know you think you’re all high and mighty sitting up there on your throne of perfection, but why don’t YOU try getting judged for something that wasn’t within your control for once, and then get back to me.

    Alyson, I’m extremely sorry for your loss. I couldn’t imagine the pain you’re going through, especially with thoughtless busybodies in this world. Thank you you for creating awareness for this issue in the world,too. Sending 1,000 virtual hugs your way….hugs sent!

    • Alyson Trent

      November 14, 2013 at 11:18 pm

      Thanks for the hugs : )

      And yes, it is actually said – not just in internet land where people say stupid things all the time behind the comfort of a monitor. But in real life..to my face.

    • scooby23

      November 15, 2013 at 11:52 pm

      I’m so sorry people actually say these thing to your face. I apologize for all these un-brained people in the world who spew horrible words without thinking, even though I would never say something like this to a grieving person 🙁

  72. Marisa Miller

    November 14, 2013 at 9:37 pm

    At 37 weeks my baby had a cord knot accident. I had to go to the hospital knowing I would be delivering a dead baby. This is everything I wish I could have told my husband’s family. Thank you. And I am so so sorry.

    • Alyson Trent

      November 15, 2013 at 8:09 pm

      I am so sorry, so very sorry for the loss of your child. So very sorry to all the moms of angels born sleeping. I know for every single idiotic thing I have heard, each and every one of you has heard it 10 times worse and a 1000 times more frequent.

  73. Dari

    November 15, 2013 at 4:02 pm

    The one that always got me ‘He’s in a better place.’ Really? How about I put YOU in ‘a better place’. Would you like that?

  74. SusannahJoy

    November 15, 2013 at 5:58 pm

    I HATE “It’s all part of God’s plan.” For one thing, I don’t believe in God. But my family does. My sister, who help her son’s ashes at his funeral, does. But they couldn’t think about God right then, because if God is the one who killed him, then they’d have to lose their faith too, because who can worship a god that kills 6 year old boys for no apparent reason? It wasn’t part of a grand plan. It was a horrible tragedy.

  75. Lexi

    November 16, 2013 at 3:29 am

    Hello, This is Lexi, the poster who had the gall to actually say that the loss of a cat is greater than the loss of a child. Well i am truly sorry for the OP’s loss but Let me tell my story. I HAVE lost a child, my son, Alexander Valentine Bellman, when he was 8 days old, due to an infection from his circumcision. But, his loss never affected me. Why? because i never felt he was mine or even real. I was raped and that rape lead to him. I found out I was pregnant too late, so i was forced to carry him.

    Then he was born, I was so confused as to why the nurse gave me a baby when i was damn sure that i was in the hospital due to my Porphyria (which causes extreme stomach pain). I just remember that my grandmother (who was with me) asked what I was going to call her grandson. I told her that my first son was going to be named after me (as in literally, that would have been my name if I was born a boy), and why is she asking. Then she too put this baby in my arms and said Meet your Ma, Alex. I almost told her to take the baby back because he WAS NOT MINE!

    Fast forward to a few days later. I was still confused as to why we brought this baby home, and why my cousin Angela was calling it Alex. Well that night the baby was crying and we were trying to figure out what was wrong. then grandma noticed a Bump near his circumcision area, but said let it be it would go away. well it didn’t and then we went back to the hospital. Alexander was dead by the next morning due to septic shock. It was and still is all a great big blur in my mind. we had him cremated and then buried. I was in such a state of shock that i kept wondering why we were in mourning when NO ONE HAD DIED! Realy i felt like screaming that.

    Then 3 months after Alex had died, my cousin Krysten, lost her battle with neuroblastoma cancer. That’s when i finally felt some form of grief, not for my son but for my cousin. When ever some one came up to me asking me to comfort my aunt because i too had lost a child. I honestly asked them what child? I don’t and never have had any children. then A year after Krysten’s death, Salome died. I grieved harder for Both Krysten and Sal more than I ever did for Alexander because I never thought that he belonged to me and he wasn’t real.

    One last time I am sorry for your loss OP.

    • Alyson Trent

      November 16, 2013 at 9:10 am

      I am sorry for your losses and I posted below to you as well. i do hope you are receiving help for what is most likely very severe PTSD. You missed the point of what i was saying – and what others have tried to explain to you. I tried to explain it to you below and I hope you understand.

  76. AugustW

    November 16, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    3 best things to say to a grieving anyone:
    I’m sorry
    I don’t know what to say
    How can I help.

    I lost my father 10 months ago, and although I feel like this is a totally different pain to losing a child (as you are supposed to bury your parents, but not your babies), I can still feel some of your pain, just the general grieving kind. I was so pissed that he never got to be an Old Man. He never even got to be 60!

    *hugs* to you and anyone in mourning.

  77. neighbor57

    November 19, 2013 at 12:04 am

    I’m sorry. I have no idea how this feels.
    I “lost” my three-year-old son temporarily. I was in the middle of adopting him, and he was sent back to his original abusive situation. I lived every moment of the next four months in terror for his life and safety. It was hell. And people are cruel: “You must be so glad he’s able to be back with his real family.” “Oh, I prayed he’d be able to go home.” “Now you’ll be able to focus more on your career.” And more and more. He came back; he’s a happy, healthy preteen now. But the grief and terror of those months can still hit me at the oddest times, and I have to explain why I’m crying over fireworks or a Tellytubby doll.
    I have no idea how it feels to lose your baby, and I’m so sorry for you. The grief doesn’t disappear. You’ll never “get over” your child. You’re not supposed to. I know 90-year-old moms who cry over the baby they lost 70 years before.

  78. Chloe

    November 19, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    I have no clue how hard it is to lose a child but I swear whenever a loss is traumatic there are people that have no concept of pain who jump up to say stupid shit. I lost my father when I was still a child and it taught me just how clueless some people really are to pain. Not only do their comments hurt but you end up feeling even more alone cause no one seems to grasp the concept of grief anymore! Part of me wishes we could go back to the days where people wore black and were EXPECTED to mourn for a full year before getting back to life. Nowadays people seem to think that death and sadness only exist on TV for 30 minutes at a time, smh.

  79. nikki753

    November 20, 2013 at 7:11 pm

    How about “Our language doesn’t have the words to adequately express my feelings. It’s pathetic to use the same word I would use if I merely bumped a stranger on the sidewalk for the loss of a life. Let me know if I can help you at all with anything from food delivery to housekeeping to splitting a bottle of wine and talking like sailors while I help you rage at a world where shitty, shitty shit like this happens.”

    • ajuliea

      November 21, 2013 at 9:32 pm

      There is nothing wrong with I’m sorry. It isn’t pathetic, you are expecting too much of others if you are going to be that critical.

    • nikki753

      November 22, 2013 at 12:52 pm

      Um actually, it’s what I expect of myself. I have only been in the position of trying to comfort grieving friends and family. In my opinion, when people don’t’ have something to say that seems sufficient, that’s when they keep talking long after they should have quit and say the stupid things that they mean well but really are hurtful.

  80. learned compassion thehardway

    November 21, 2013 at 7:33 pm

    Offer hugs or gentle strokes to hair or back. Say ” I am so very, very sorry this happened to you. I remember (cite anecdotes, use child’s name often) so well. Or “would you like to talk about (baby’s name?) I love you and am here for you. – Then follow through. Telephone. Bring food. Take other children. Do laundry. Sit and hold hands. Listen. DO NOT WAIT TO BE ASKED. Simply say” is this an okay time for you?” and give all the love you can. Talk about child often. Acknowledge their life.

    • ajuliea

      November 21, 2013 at 9:24 pm

      Those are good, but you don’t always have a lot of memories. DH’s best friend’s daughter died suddenly this year. We live several hours away and only met her a few times. I miss her and feel terrible for our friends. We don’t live close enough to do those things. DH talks to his friend but I know it isn’t the same.

  81. Claus

    November 21, 2013 at 9:00 pm

    I can’t imagine how cluless someone would have to be to say any of this to a grieving parent…
    I’m so sorry for your loss…

  82. Pingback: Mommyish Article | Xavier's Ashes

  83. Awa

    December 17, 2013 at 10:56 am

    I’m very sorry for your loss, and want to thank you for writing this. I recently lost a child to miscarriage, and some of the most obnoxiously painful sentiments I’ve gotten are variations of this list. The worst was when a woman I know who also suffered a miscarriage had the audacity to tell me that my baby would probably have been mentally disabled or otherwise handicapped if he had lived, so it was better that he died instead of us being burdened with a special-needs child. It’s oddly comforting to know I’m not alone in being frustrated with people who try to use platitudes to justify loss. I’ll learn how to live with it and try to.move forward, but it will never be justifiable or okay.

  84. Organicpoppy

    January 16, 2014 at 2:22 pm

    Oh lord, I got all of these when my newborn died. #10, 5, 2, and 1 were the worst to hear for me.
    #10: I didn’t get to spend any time with my son outside of the hospital. I would have given anything to hear his first word or see his first smile. I didn’t even get to hear his first cry because I was knocked out. I am jealous of parents who got to know their child.
    #5: If there was a genetic issue or disability, it doesn’t mean I would have loved him any less. And it was particularly upsetting because test concluded that he was perfectly healthy and it was my body that betrayed us. I had to explain the cause to anyone who said this and that only compounded the guilt I already felt . I had to tell people that I gave birth to a perfectly healthy little boy who died because my body sucks.
    #2: I didn’t want another child. I wanted my son. No other child can replace him. I am pregnant now, 1yr 1month since my son died, and he is still a part of my life. I cry daily, even just a little bit, for him. This child is not his replacement; she is his sister.
    #1: This seemed like the cop-out response I got when people didn’t know what to say. It doesn’t make you feel better. If anything it made me bitter and question God. Why would God do this to us? Were we being punished? The first time someone said this to me we were still in the hospital and his body was barely cold. If my son dying was God’s plan, his plan sucks.

    Also #4 is bullshit. My husband is broken. I am not sure I will ever get him back. We were both diagnosed with PTSD. He cried less in his sleep, but it hasn’t stopped. He feels powerless. He is having a hard time connecting to this baby because he feels as if it is only temporary and she could be taken away at any time.

  85. nina

    March 19, 2014 at 2:47 am

    general rule of thumb don’t try and say something smart simple say you are sorry for their loss…leave the cookie cutter BS phrases to hallmark no one give a shit if you sound smart when they are grieving. Come from your heart not your head and you will avoid making a dick out of yourself. When my brother died people wanted to tell me abt how they knew exactly how I was feeling cause their est friend died in high school…seriously?

  86. gammachris

    October 11, 2014 at 6:29 pm

    “Gods’ plan sucks.”

    Thank you. It’s been almost 21 years since my son died, and I’ve made my peace with that. However, hearing about “God’s plan” still makes me angry. If I thought for a minute that God gave me this precious child, only to take him back because He changed His mind… That wouldn’t be a God that I would want any part of. I think terrible things happen sometimes, and I believe that God is there to love us and help us bear it.

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