If You Mock How People Grieve The Loss Of A Child, You Suck
What would it take for you to mock the way someone handled one of the worst things — if not the worst thing — any parent can go through? Apparently political disagreement is sufficient for some people. And that’s unacceptable. I don’t care if you’re Josef Stalin or Mao Zedong, if you lose a child, you should not be mocked for it or for how you handle it.
Earlier this week, former Fox News show host Alan Colmes mocked Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, who is pro-life, because he and his wife brought home their son Gabriel, who died a few hours after birth, so the family could mourn.
Now, it turns out that what the Santorum family did was fully in line with what the American Pregnancy Association recommends. The APA is an association of health-care providers who treat pregnant women. In their page about how to handle stillbirth “Stillbirth: Surviving Emotionally,” the group recommends that parents spend time with the baby. And what about the rest of the family?
With the loss of your baby, your family members will also grieve. Your baby is someone’s granddaughter, brother, cousin, nephew or sister. It is important for your family members to spend time with the baby. This will help them come to terms with their loss. If you have other children, it is very important to be honest with them about what has happened by using simple and honest explanations. It is your decision whether you would like the children to see the baby. Ask for a Child Life Specialist at the hospital; these are trained professionals who can help you prepare your children for the heartbreaking news, and prepare them to see the baby if you wish.
So the Santorum family gave the children the opportunity to say goodbye to their brother. When my grandpa died, my grandma called all the kids and grandkids over to say goodbye. We spent many hours doing just that before we even thought of calling anyone to take his body. I have had friends who miscarried who needed time to grieve their loss and say goodbye. We might live in a society that rushes people through their grief, but it’s not actually a healthy thing. It’s enormously helpful, in fact, for people experiencing the terrible pain of the loss of a child to properly grieve that loss rather than pretend that the life of the child was unimportant or disposable.
Now, even if the Santorums hadn’t done something that was recommended by the APA, I’d still say that you’d be unwise to mock someone for how they handled the death of their child.
But some people speak before they think. Colmes, who has since apologized, thankfully, said:
“Once they get a hold of the crazy things he’s said and done like taking his two-hour old baby who died right after childbirth home and played with it for a couple of hours so his other children would know that the child was real.”
Has Colmes ever met a family who has lost a child that enjoyed the experience? How beneath him. But, like I said, he apologized. ABC News reports that when someone asked the Santorums about the Colmes incident, they responded:
But in Iowa this afternoon, Santorum explained that it was important for his other children to “know they had a brother.”
Santorum’s wife, Karen, who was at the event and listened to her husband talk about the experience, began to weep.
“It’s just so inappropriate,” she said as tears streamed from her eyes.
Even after he was roundly condemned for his disgusting remarks, though, another member of the media followed him in speaking without using his brain.
On the Rachel Maddow show a couple of nights ago, the Washington Post‘s Eugene Robinson said:
[Santorum]‘s not a little weird, he’s really weird. Some of the positions he’s taken are just so weird that I think some Republicans are gonna be off-put. Not everybody is going to be down, for example, with the story of how he and his wife handled the stillborn child whose body they took home to kind of sleep with and introduce to the rest of the family. It’s very weird story… Let’s repeat that, every time we talk about Rick Santorum, let’s be clear: This a guy who should never become president, in my view.
Does Eugene Robinson really think the proper way to talk about Rick Santorum is frequently to mock the APA-approved way he and his wife decided to handle the death of their child? “Let’s repeat that, every time we talk about Rick Santorum”?
And then he and Maddow chuckled. HA HA HA! Losing a baby is so funny.
Do they know what a Jewish friend just told me? That when she lost her baby, her family was required to physically be with the baby at all times until the moment of burial? And that the burial is required? Do they want to go after Jews who have lost a baby and followed that dictate?
As it turns out, I would neither support Rick Santorum for president nor bring my dead baby home from the hospital (though I would definitely have a funeral). And it’s perfectly fine to say you would do things differently or not vote for Rick Santorum.
But if we as a people countenance the mocking of people who have endured the most horrible of tragedies, we are in dire times indeed.