Coping with friends and co-workers . . . My family and friends seem to have forgotten about the baby. It hurts so much. Short of avoiding them, what can I do?
From Ann Douglas . . .
Rather than avoiding friends and family members who are reluctant to talk about your baby, try being up-front about how their behaviour makes you feel. Let them know that you find their behaviour hurtful and that it's important to you that they talk to you about your baby. After all, your relationship with your baby hasn't ended just because your baby has died. It's simply changed.
It's important to bear in mind, however, that what you may interpret as a lack of feeling on their part may actually be a misguided
attempt to spare your feelings. Some people operate on the misguided assumption that talking about the person who died will cause a grieving person additional pain. Why not take this opportunity to set the record straight? Doing so could make a huge difference for you, for them, and for every other grieving person they encounter in future.
It may appear as though people have forgotten about your baby and for some people in your life this may unfortunately be true. There may however be some people who hesitate to mention your baby for fear of upsetting you or because it upsets them. Regardless of the reason, their silence hurts.
Having your baby's picture on your desk, a framed poem about your little one, or a framed copy of his or her footprints could be a way of letting others know you remember your child and it's alright for others to as well. You might even have a screensaver that has some significance such as, "We remember" or "Always in our hearts." Wearing an angel necklace or one with your child's birthstone could serve as a reminder too. Whenever I wear one of my angel charms the people who know of my loss are gently reminded that my son is still important to me.
On days that are particularly difficult such as due dates, birthdays and anniversaries you could wear a small black ribbon or a pink or blue one. This may trigger the memory of those around you to be extra gentle with you on those days.
If people are hurting you in casual conversation with statements such as, "You can't be as tired as me, I've been up all night with a crying baby." You might have to be more direct in reminding them of your great loss and the pain it still brings. This may lead to an awkward relationship for awhile, but the person will hopefully be more sensitive in the future.
Despite all your gentle and in some cases direct reminders, there will be some people who truly do forget and do not want to be reminded. In these cases explaining your grief and loss and constantly reminding the person of your child will only bring you more pain. If someone at work or in your circle of friends refuses to acknowledge your baby and you by necessity or choice will still be spending time with him or her I would encourage you to have a refuge to run to if needed. A book on infant loss you keep in your desk to read on breaks or a journal in which you write your frustrations, hurt or anger (kept somewhere private, such as your purse), will help you to recharge and regroup after a draining encounter. Support groups on-line or in your community can offer a welcome contrast to any unsupportive people in your life.
One more thought. At some point I realized that I could not force people to remember my son, but I could make a sincere effort to remember the losses of those around me and perhaps ease their pain. A dear friend of mine had suffered two miscarriages and subsequent infertility. I had long forgotten the dates of the miscarriages as years had passed. Last year I called her and asked for the dates and this year when the anniversaries neared I sent flowers. I mention this for two reasons. I look back at all the years I never mentioned her little ones she so loved and wanted and it helps me to be more forgiving of those in my life who do not mention my son. Also, I cried when I ordered her flowers. I cried for her babies and for my baby boy. In remembering her sorrow I remembered mine and in easing her sorrow mine was eased as well. Sometimes when we feel most alone reaching out to help another can provide us with the connection we long to have.
Working or socializing with people who seem to have forgotten your child is a difficult, painful situation to navigate. I wish you peace and strength for the journey.
If you like this article, we'd be honored if you shared it using the button below.