I was at an event this past weekend, selling little craft things to raise funds for the charity, talking with folks about what we do and generally interacting with some of the most lovely people. To my surprise, someone stepped up, picked up the leaflet and asked "do you really think this helps people?" After saying yes absolutely I do, they proceeded to ask "really, you think these outfits help? how?"
Now to my credit, the smile never left my face, I did my level best to answer her with how exactly I think they help, the thank you's we have received from families and staff and how we came to founding the charity. This person was genuinely sorry to hear of "our loss" but didn't seem convinced. They made the comment about experiencing miscarriage, "but not upset about it" as they went onto have another child they wouldn't have had if not for the miscarriage. Then they then shared they were expecting their first grandchild just after Christmas. I simply congratulated them on their expected arrival, said that I was glad that they had found a way to process their grief but that everyone's grief is a personal, unique journey.
So although my initial reaction was to absolutely shred this person publicly for being an insensitive clod, it slowly started to dawn on my it is easier for her to think of it as a non issue than to think of it as a serious, real possibility. Today a dear friend shared an article that was recently published in the Guardian. Stillbirth occurs 10 times more often than cot death but is rarely, if ever, talked about. And it is becoming more and more clear that the problem isn't that this person was an arse, just ill informed about just how many of us are here, grieving a loss that cannot be described, explained or even really shared. It is a devastating loss that leaves you with nothing, no memories, no sound of their laugh or cry, no smell of their hair or nappies, just the sheer joy of expectation and the ever expanding love in your heart for this coming person and then the shattering, excruciating pain of it all being taken away.
The death of a child at any age is the worst pain in existence. It is unnatural for parents to bury their children, but death is a part of life and as my priest said, grief is the measure of love. The death of a child before you have any opportunity to experience who they are is, in my opinion, the loneliest, most isolating grief there is as you are the only one who has had any experience with them. I'll never forget the sensation the morning Sarah died of her having the hiccups. I have that, my husband doesn't - so it is crushing to us both in different ways.
So to those who question the need for things like blessing gowns or nesting blankets when "it is just a miscarriage", let me answer you with love and honesty. I believe that they do help. They help by acknowledging a beloved child gone too soon, they help by giving parents the comfort of knowing that their baby is wrapped in love and beauty in the one way that they can provide, and it helps knowing that from our grief, the legacy of our love for Sarah is that we bring that love to other bereaved families to share their pain.