Necessary Fear

Ruins of Cannery Row, Monterey, California
Ruins of Cannery Row, Monterey, California (Miranda Hernandez)

I don’t personally know anything about football and I haven’t had cable in a few years, so I haven’t seen the Super Bowl for a while. But I was reading an article yesterday, and it pointed me to the existence of a commercial that aired in 2015. It was a commercial for Nationwide insurance, and it dealt with common accidents that have been shown to cause the majority of childhood deaths.

I understand, to many, this sounds macabre. I’m not really surprised, then, that this commercial received so much backlash. Reading the YouTube comments is definitely interesting. I want to say though, as a mother who has lost a child, I actually appreciate what this commercial was trying to do.

When I was pregnant for the first time, I read all the books. I went to pregnancy and infant care classes, I asked so many questions at my appointments. I was pretty much a pregnancy nerd. And I was still taken by surprise when my son was unexpectedly stillborn. I didn’t know. I didn’t know that 1 in 160 pregnancies ends in the death of the child at or after 20 weeks gestation. I didn’t know this was a thing that really happened, and the shock was almost as bad as the grief.

I am pregnant now for the second time, and again, I am researching everything. But this time, I’m looking deeper. I’m looking for the scary things no one likes to talk about. I’m looking for the things that happen, and parents think afterwards, “Why didn’t somebody warn me?” I will always wish someone had warned me about the worst thing that could happen to my son.

So Nationwide creates this commercial, and there are images of overflowing bathtubs and toppled furniture and open second story windows, and people are upset. “This is the Super Bowl,” they said. “This is supposed to be a happy time. I don’t want to see these things.”

And I think this is the problem. Because honestly, there really never is an appropriate time to talk about tragedy. There really never is a time when the innocent are ready to listen. And that’s sad, and it’s also wrong. Because death isn’t the thing that only happens to other people. Tragedy isn’t the thing you can ignore and it won’t hurt you. And speaking as a mother who lost one child, and is determined to do anything in my power to protect the one inside me, I would rather know. I would rather know everything.

And so I salute Nationwide, because they told the truth. And they told it in the biggest way possible. And people are uncomfortable, because the truth can have that effect sometimes. That doesn’t mean it’s not important. And I say, “Thank you.”

💙🐘💙 Miranda’s Blog contains my thoughts on stillbirth, child loss, mental health after loss, pregnancy & parenting after loss, and thoughts on grief positivity & grief support. 💙🐘💙
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