How do Other People React to the News of Stillbirth, Miscarriage or Infant Death?

I have personally found a whole range of reactions; and the reactions tended to be different depending on how far along I was into the pregnancy. When we had our first miscarriage in 2015 I was 10 weeks pregnant; this was classed as a missed miscarriage, meaning that the baby had stopped growing but was still inside my womb; I had to have some medication (misoprostol) and wait for the miscarriage to happen… I found the reactions from others to initially be one of shock, but very soon they started to offer help and support, their reactions were very positive and they ‘kept me going’.

When we lost Sophie there was a lot of shock and disbelief… I was so close to my due date that this news really hit a lot of people quite hard. Even more so as I told them that I was booked to be induced and would have to go through labour to deliver her… everyone was just so shocked at that! I don’t actually know how else I was expecting her to come out, but I wasn’t expecting to have to go through labour! After Sophie was born my family and close friends were just amazing, and they reacted in a way in which they wanted to help. However, not everyone was like this! The first time I walked to the shops was about a week after she was born; and I noticed that people were now avoiding me, trying hard not to make eye contact and one lady even crossed the road so she didn’t have to make small talk! This upset me a lot at the time as it made me feel abnormal! I realise that people often don’t know what to say, but it’s always better to say something rather than nothing!

With my miscarriages since Sophie I have had comments such as ‘maybe you can’t have any more children’ or ‘maybe it’s time to stop now’, some people are supportive about us trying again, and some are not! But I tend to block out the negative ones and these days I don’t let people know if we have a positive test! It’s my way of protecting myself!!

I asked the members of Sophie’s Angels about other people’s reactions; some members would like to remain anonymous and some have said I can use their name. So below is what some of the members of Sophie’s Angels say:

Brittany: When it comes to still birth and infant death it’s something people don’t want to think about happening. When it does happen it makes people uncomfortable. In our case some of my family didn’t agree with me keeping my daughter in the room after she passed and they didn’t want to see her. When I played a video of her pictures at her funeral some people were very uncomfortable. They didn’t even look. I don’t think people know how to react because it’s hard to think about ever losing an innocent child. I don’t think they know how to approach it.

Anon: I get stuck when someone asks how many kids I have. I don’t want to hide Audrey but at the same time people either make a big scene with a very loud “oh my god I’m so sorry” or they get quiet and seem to want to avoid me or the whole topic of kids altogether. I definitely prefer reaction number 1 over the 2nd one. Loss mom’s already feel alone when people avoid us or talk about us like we are not there furthers the isolation!

Laura: Often people change the subject and feel uncomfortable around those who have lost a child. Everyone seemed to just act like it hadn’t happened especially those close to me. People need to know that we as parents to an angel sometimes need to talk about our precious babies.

Shayna: My experience was just three months ago . It was my first loss to my second born son. . We went to our 20 week scan and was told there was no heart beat and due to chromosome issues the sexton hadn’t formed . My Dr gave me 2 options , d&e (c) or delivery . My partner only had two days off and they kept saying that d&e was the faster option. I couldn’t do that to my baby so I chose delivery. I scheduled it for those two off days but felt so scared and wasn’t ready to let my child go . I say Fate happened and my oldest unfortunately caught a high fever so I took him to the ER when I should of went to l&d. I waited 2 weeks and finally miscarried on my own then went to l&d when I started bleeding . I delivered a beautiful baby boy who was completely perfect . His umbilical cord had wrapped around his neck twice .
People asked me while I waited what I was going to do and most agreed d&e would be better to get back to my family faster. My mother in law even asked why I would want to go through the pain of seeing and holding the baby. (She had a full term stillborn) but I don’t think I would of done it any different . I wanted my son . I’m grateful for his life inside me and I’m grateful for the chance to have held him and seen his beautiful face . I tell people I have two sons but one just happens to be my angel.
I WOULD LIKE TO TELL PEOPLE DON BE SORRY FOR ME BECAUSE I NOT SORRY TO BE HIS MOM!!

Christina: No one imagines losing your child it’s not something to go through alone it’s very upsetting as of everyday there’s always one little baby’s heart stops beating and I think hospitals should do more during the 9 months of pregnancy

Anon: In my experience people avoid you / the subject when they see you 1st…then they message you apologising for avoiding you because they didn’t know what to say!! I’ve never been offended by anyone’s behaviour EXCEPT that of my father in law, brother in law and grandmother in law……they have not visited, telephoned, text, offered my fella any support…he banned them from attending the funeral ( grandmother had the cheek to ask my mother in law!)

Miranda: Some people don’t know how to respond to miscarriage because they might not have even known you were pregnant. I consider most initial responses to my losses to be from shock. I usually just take hold of the conversation immediately by talking about my angels. I think people tend to be more comfortable if they know how YOU feel about your loss. I’ve lost two beautiful babies and I still struggle when someone has a loss because I never know how someone else is grieving.

Anon: was a shocker when I told my father. I really struggle to talk of it. For me, it’s not one loss, it’s 5. My husband’s family pretended my miscarriages never happened.

Mendy: It’s still so new for me. But I find myself sharing our story at random times. Last time was at my work Christmas party, random ride share moment, but the one that I experience most is, my Boss and I had a “get to know me” conversation. Her mouth dropped and tears formed so fast she alarmed me. I then reactively apologized “I didn’t want to make her sad”. She shares her story of her miscarriage. Even says that her story is still nothing like mine but she can understand the possible mood swings.

Anon: Everyone reacts completely differently. My dad and my brother struggle we don’t do death well in our family we are very matter of fact so losing a baby at 29weeks was a tough one. They are in to protective mode and just want to take the pain away something they can’t do and I can tell they feel helpless. Was so late in the pregnancy we had to tell Facebook as we had already announced that we were expecting. This brought up a number of things. It’s amazing how many old friends offer support and you suddenly realise the amount of people who have lost a child at some point. However one friend who I was very close with in secondary school it annoyed me. She had not acknowledged me being pregnant with my sunshine or any photos of her. She even avoided me at the park. Hadn’t acknowledged I was pregnant with Joshua but when she found out id lost him sent a message starting with “heyyy chick…” for me I felt this was for her benefit and she wasn’t thinking of me at all. Then some of my closest friends have been brilliant just letting me talk and crying with me . But my friend said when I messaged her all she wanted to reply was wtf are you kidding? Obviously she didn’t lol.

Conclusion

It is obvious from my own experience, and the experiences of others that I’ve spoken to, that just as no two people grieve the same way, no two people react the same way either. We all have different ways of coping, and we all have different was of reacting to bad news. However, one thing remains constant… it is always better to say something rather than nothing!

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