Things people don’t understand about child loss and grief (Archives)

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Things people don’t understand about child loss and grief

Sea Glass Writing Prompt for bereaved families: I wish the world knew… What is the one thing you wish you could share with the world about grief or loss or tragedy? If the world knew this one thing, how would your life be different? How would theirs?

I wish the world knew… (SG Writing Prompt)

What is the one thing you wish you could share with the world about grief or loss or tragedy? If the world knew this one thing, how would your life be different? How would theirs?

Sea Glass Writing Prompt for bereaved families: If I could write a letter to anyone at all, I would say… The bereaved sometimes keep thoughts and feelings inside, worried that what they have to say will be perceived as negative, or hurtful, or will simply be misunderstood. If you could write a letter to someone who you've struggled in communicating with, who would it be? What would you say? What do you think their reaction would be? What keeps you from sending this letter today?

If I could write a letter to anyone at all, I would say… (SG Writing Prompt)

The bereaved sometimes keep thoughts and feelings inside, worried that what they have to say will be perceived as negative, or hurtful, or will simply be misunderstood. If you could write a letter to someone who you’ve struggled in communicating with, who would it be? What would you say? What do you think their reaction would be? What keeps you from sending this letter today?

Talking about my dead child isn't a "sad" thing. -Miranda Hernandez, Adrian's Mother

Talking about my dead child isn’t a “sad” thing

People who haven’t dealt with tragedy are often made uncomfortable by any mention of the life that remains. It’s as if there is this irrevocable connection between my son’s death and his existence; as if these things are forever entwined instead of merely adjacent.

Laughter doesn't mean the grief is over - Miranda Hernandez, Adrian's Mother

Laughter doesn’t mean the grief is over

Something I wish people understood is that it’s possible to laugh while you’re dying inside. Laughter doesn’t mean the grief is over. The two things can exist simultaneously.

White flowers with yellow centers in tall green stalks (Miranda Hernandez)

Life after loss isn’t ALWAYS about grief

Something I wish more people understood is that life after loss isn’t always about grief.⁠ Even when we do things to honor and remember our children, those things don’t come from grief alone, but from so many additional and powerful feelings.

Original Statement: Still Grieving? Still dead. Still a parent. Rewritten statement: Always grieving. Always dead. ALWAYS a parent.

Still/Always

STILL grieving? Yes, I am still grieving.⁠⁠ I am still grieving, because the work of grief is never done.⁠ ⁠I am still grieving, because I put into my grief what I cannot put into life with my son.⁠ ⁠I am still grieving, because he is STILL, and will always, be dead.⁠..

Notes for the support team - Nobody is born knowing how to deal with grief. We are all just figuring it out along the way.

Nobody is born knowing how to deal with grief

Before Adrian died, I had very little sense of the impact of death. It was an abstract concept to me. I had known people who had died, but nobody close enough to trigger intense grief. And so, when someone in my circle lost a child, I misunderstood.

Often when I share about my deceased child, people rush to give advice or hugs. I don't always need that, though.  Often, all I really need is for you to listen. - Miranda Hernandez, Adrian's Mother

Often all I need is for you to listen

Often, when I share about my deceased child, that’s all I’m looking for: An ear. A person to open their heart to experience. Someone to take a moment in their day to read and acknowledge, without trying to analyze me.

Notes for the Support Team - Words Matter: Original statement: Let's cheer you up. Rewritten: I understand your grief is heavy right now. I'd like to support you in whatever ways you need. Would you like to tell me about him? Or maybe we can go for a walk. Whatever you need. -Miranda Hernandez, Adrian's Mother

Let’s cheer you up

Loved ones often want to cheer you up after loss, but sometimes, you don’t want or need to find cheerfulness. Sometimes (often!), you need to just sit and grieve. “Let’s cheer you up” can be hurtful after loss. Acknowledgement is so much more supportive.

Notes for the Support Team - Words Matter: Original statement: It's time to move on. Rewritten: I understand you grieve for and miss your child. What can I do to help you honor them today? -Miranda Hernandez, Adrian's Mother

It’s time to move on

There is a myth in our society that we need to “move on” and “heal” from loss and grief. But grief is eternal and no one understands that better than the bereaved. Acknowledge & honor this need to maintain connection even after death. Acknowledge that grief, like love, lasts as long as it needs.

Notes for the Support Team - Words Matter: Original statement: I would never survive it. Rewritten: I haven't experienced your pain, so I can only imagine what it feels like. I am here for you though, if you ever want to talk about your experience or your child. -Miranda Hernandez, Adrian's Mother

I would never survive it

Sometimes the most empathetic-sounding statements can be the most unintentionally hurtful. “I would never survive it” implies you would choose death or suicide over living after the death of your child. This is a flippant thing to say. Please don’t.

Notes for the Support Team - Words Matter: Original statement: Have you thought about adoption? Rewritten: I understand the idea of having children after loss is complicated. I'm never going to push you or ask you questions you aren't ready to answer. I'm here though, if you ever want to talk about it. -Miranda Hernandez, Adrian's Mother

Have you thought about adoption?

Adoption is an inordinately beautiful thing. It is also often used as a generic straw solution to the “problems” of child loss and infertility. Please don’t push adoption on the infertile or the bereaved. Listen to their feelings. If it’s right for them, they will bring it up when it’s time.

Notes for the Support Team - Words Matter: Original Statement: Having a birthday party for a dead child is weird. Rewritten: I've never been to a birthday party for a deceased child, but I'd love to honor him in this way. How can I help? -Miranda Hernandez, Adrian's Mother

Having a birthday party for a dead child is “weird”

Grief is hard, both for the bereaved & their loved ones. But however uncomfortable you feel, think about the impact of your actions & words. You don’t have to understand to support. And your support means everything. If a bereaved parent invites you to birthday party for their child, please come.

There is no asterisk to the things that are allowed in the grief experience. -Miranda Hernandez, Adrian's Mother

There is no Asterisk to the things Allowed in Grief

It’s something I experienced, early in my grief: Do what you need, *but understand that eventually you will have to stop grieving and move on. And man, does this hurt! Because who defines this concept of “too much” of anything? Is it really possible to have too much grief? I don’t think so.

Even as a bereaved parent, I still don't always know the right words to say. -Miranda Hernandez, Adrian's Mother

The Bereaved Don’t Always Have Words Either

Almost 4 years in this community, and I can identify most of the wrong things to say. I write scripts and stories. I try to make things better for other people. And sometimes, still, when it comes to those I care about, words fail me.

Notes for the Support Team -  When someone is in the thick of grief, "someday" is pretty meaningless. Sit with them in the hard parts, today, instead. -Miranda Hernandez, Adrian's Mother

“Someday” is Meaningless

What you need to understand is that your loved one isn’t there right now; they are here. And here, today, they are hurting. As much as you want to point them to “someday,” it is so much more important to acknowledge where they are, today.

19 March 2021 – Where I Live Now

I was tagged in a post the other day. An expectant parent had unexpectedly lost her child, and a mutual friend wanted to connect us. But then I was reading through the other comments on the post, and I found one that said, “someday this won’t hurt so bad,” and to be honest, I wanted to scream.

18 March 2021 – What I Wish You Knew

There’s something about the echoing emptiness, waking up in the morning and he’s not there. How I wish you had come in then, crawled into bed with me and just held me. How I wish you had shown me it was okay to fall apart…And then how I wish you had left again.

Notes for the Support Team - Children. Aren't. Replaceable. Please consider the impact of your words before you talk about things like subsequent children or adoption. -Miranda Hernandez, Adrian's Mother

Children Aren’t Replaceable

Children are not replaceable. I know you probably don’t think they are…⁠
(DO you?)⁠⁠
I know you probably don’t think you can grab one baby out of a parent’s arms and then give them a different one with no consequence.⁠ (You DON’T think that, right?)⁠
But this is what we are sometimes hearing.⁠⁠

Thankfulness is not a cure for grief

It is common in loss circles to talk about finding thankfulness in the life we have left. There are so many things wrong with this sentiment. The biggest problem is that it assumes the bereaved can’t be thankful and grieving at the same time. The other main problem is the unspoken assumption that thankfulness is a “cure” for grief.⁠ It isn’t.

I think one of the hardest things I had to do was accept that grief isn't always overwhelming. Sometimes it just exists; present but not always screaming. -Miranda Hernandez, Adrian's Mother

Grief isn’t always overwhelming

I think one of the hardest things I had to do was accept that grief isn’t always overwhelming. Sometimes it just exists, present but not always screaming.

Screenshot of Scary Mommy Article "Sharing Pictures Of My Stillborn Son Is Not 'Gross'" with a photo of Adrian and Miranda in the background.

The First Real Byline—Published in Scary Mommy

Two big influencers lost children this year. In the wake of heavy criticism of their public grief, I wrote this piece in defense of sharing photos and talking about our beloved deceased children. Today, that story was published in Scary Mommy.

My feelings are authentic and I own them completely. -Miranda Hernandez, Adrian's Mother

My feelings are authentic and I own them completely

I’ve been running into a trend recently when I talk about Adrian’s death, especially when I share more “uncomfortable” feelings such as anger or regret. People seem to feel like they need to urge me to find peace or to otherwise feel differently. I wish more people understood the power in authenticity; in feeling whatever and however one needs.

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