Saturday, March 7, 2015

Just a Mom

Today, three of my friends are upset because their Facebook posts about their children have been met with comments of sympathy or misunderstanding...again. This happens all the time, but it just happened to three of them at once and it made me stop and think. It made me think that a blog post was warranted. For them. For me. For all of us whose only connection to our children is through the past.
I want to clear up a few misconceptions.

Misconception 1: We are posting for sympathy.
Let me tell you, the last thing we want is sypmathy. We don't want you to feel sorry for us. We don't want you to feel sorry for our child. We aren't posting about our baby so you will feel bad because, believe it or not, our child's death is not about you. It's not about what we can get from you. We don't want "sad eyes" or tilted heads. We don't need a virtual pat on the back from you telling us it will all be okay. We aren't posting to remind you about our child's death - we are posting to remind you about their life and about our love for them. Life and Love do not need sypmathy.

Misconception 2: We are unable to handle our grief.
Honestly, this one is incredibly annoying. If we were unable to handle our grief, we would be dead already. The fact that we are alive to even create a post is proof enough we are handling things just fine. Maybe you don't think we are because some posts seem "depressing" or "morbid". Maybe you are concerned because for the last several days (or months), our posts have focused on our missing child and on how hard it is that they are gone. Handling grief is feeling grief. Unless you have given birth to your dead child, had to watch them die shortly after birth, or walked up to their lifeless body laying in their crib, you cannot make decisions regarding how we chose to handle their absence. Posts about our children do not mean we aren't handling our grief. They mean we are handling our love.

Misconception 3: We are posting because we are sad.
Sometimes we are sad, yes. However, for the most part, when we need to get that sadness out into a post, it will be in one of our loss groups where people understand it, not on our personal wall, where it will, inevitably, be misconstrued. It is possible we do want you to understand how this feels, and so we post a status in hopes that you will. But, we aren't sad all the time. Not every post is made in sadness. Not every picture we upload or quote we share is because we are drenched in sorrow. We are sad our child died, but not everything makes us sad. Sometimes, we can remember without sadness. Sometimes, we can remember with joy and love.

Misconcepition 4: We have become dark and twisted, or we are full of "negative energy".
Our outlook on life has changed. We see the world differently than we used to, differently than you do. That is true. Especially those of us who had previously been untouched by death, we see the finality of life more clearly. We take less B.S. from people and we are more likely to appreciate the current moment over a future one. Sometimes, it is hard to plan for the future because the one we had been working on was ripped away, but that doesn't mean we don't appreciate what we have. It doesn't mean we are negative and are brimming with darkness.

So, why do we post? Why do you post pictures of your children? You post about your children because you love them and because they are a part of your life. You post because you are proud of them and you want to show them off. You post because you think your kids are amazing and wonderful and the greatest kids in the world. Same here. The only difference is, the child we are posting about is dead. But, that shouldn't make a difference. We are just mothers who want to share our child with you. And since they aren't here to share, we share our feelings about that. We share the same pictures over and over because they are the only ones we have. We share quotes and images about healing and grief. We share articles about loss, links to charities, and events for awareness walks. It is our way of being a part of motherhood - our way of including our child in social media like everyone else's child is.

A question going around in your head may be, "Well, then, how do I respond to your posts?". Many people have said to me over the years that they just don't know what to say in response to some of my posts. Honestly, you don't have to say anything. A "like" will suffice. We don't interpret your "like" as anything but a supportive gesture. Please, though, don't give us frowny faced emoticons. Don't tell us we are making you sad.

We aren't looking for anything. We aren't reaching out for help. We are just being a mom.


  1. Funny. "We are posting on facebook (the eternal high school mentality) and we are upset that anyone might post a comment about how my post makes them feel". THEN STOP POSTING ON SOCIAL MEDIA!!!
    You've posted threads about how people need to be more aware of what to say or what not to say. GROW UP! No one on this earth has to be careful of your feelings. They are yours. YOU deal with it instead of trying to educate those commenting.
    This is your path. You post deal with it. Dont try to redirect sympathy or emotion.


    1. Nucky,
      I don't know who you are, but I do know that many of your past comments on my blog have been condescending or critical, and I feel like I need to respond.

      People DO need to be aware of what to say and what not to say to those who are grieving. Not because they need to tiptoe around anyone's feelings, but because it is common human decency. It's not about catering to someone's emotional whims - it's about being compassionate to their struggle and trying to understand their path. This post was simply explaining the reasons Loss Moms post about their children and how those posts are often misunderstood. This post was to clarify those reasons in hopes of educating those people who actually care about not hurting their fellow human beings. This post was not to tell people how to feel. ( A small piece suggests a "like" on a post if the person isn't sure what to say, but that is as far as this post goes in telling people what to do.) There is nothing wrong with educating others on how you'd like to be treated. Often times, people get things wrong. They don't know what to say or how to act in situations, through no fault of their own other than being ill-equipped with knowledge or experience. The purpose of this post was to give people that knowledge. Whether they chose to use it is entirely up to them.

      Many of my Loss Mom friends have shared this post because it rang true for them, so I know I am not off the mark. Also, considering the post has been read over 1,000 times in less than 24 hours shows it has struck a chord with the people it should.

      Beyond the regular status updates, Facebook can be a powerful catalyst for spreading an important message. This is evident through the thousands of different awareness pages for breast cancer, domestic violence, autoimmune diseases, etc. You name it - it has an awareness page on Facebook. Child Loss is my message. I am raising awareness in my social circles about stillbirth and about how to treat mothers who have lost their child. Facebook is the main reason my blog post "A Letter to My Doctor" has reached over 150,000 people in a month and a half and why I have been asked to speak about child loss in hospitals around the country to continue to educate others. Like it or not, social media is a part of almost everyone's lives. It is a form of communication that goes beyond the "high school mentality" - especially for those of us who have actually progressed past the high school mentality.

      I don't need to GROW UP. I am grown. If you don't like the content of my blog, simply stop reading it.

    2. Thank you, Rebecca, for speaking my heart.

    3. Rebecca, thank you for that reply! Signed, a grieving mother

    4. Freaking AMEN! I couldn't agree more whole heartedly with you on this blog post or to your response. We were advocates for our child when they were alive, and we advocate for their honor now. We are proud of our kids. They are gone, but they are still here with us, and we continue to fight. The thing that hit me the hardest was, if we weren't handling our grief, we'd be dead already. Whew. No one understands how insanely difficult it is to wake up every single day after our child doesn't. Thank you for writing this piece!!! ~Gray's Mommy <3 O:)

  2. Rebecca, I couldn't agree with your blog more. I am glad you posted this because I feel all these things!! Thank you for being so open and sharing with us. As a new angel mommy, I am grateful for people like you.

  3. Wow, Rebecca. Again, you have done nothing short of amazing me. Even with how you have responded to the ignorance commented above, you exhibited maturity and diplomacy, where as most would have attacked this person with harsh words and name calling. Bravo, mama, you are a wonderful person, and I am honored that you reached out to me when I needed help on how to help my sister in law heal. ❤💋😘🌈🌈

  4. 1988 was my year and I'm sure if Facebook or even the internet had been around then I would have been blogging about my child and how it felt to lose him. I was a weirdo, I was a talker, I spoke about what had happened to me and how I felt. I was strange to some people. I had people cross the street rather than speak to me. You're not supposed to talk about babies dying. Twenty eight years later and it's strange to see that it's still pretty much a taboo subject to discuss. It happens to many, many families and we need to discuss it.

    As you have said - when somebody posts on social media then a 'like' is suffice. It's a small show of support.

  5. Thank you for sharing this post. So much of this needed to be said. More people NEED TO be educated and some welcome the help. Especially those who have family on this unwanted path.

  6. WORD!
    Thank you to the moon & back. <3

  7. Thank you for your message and grace when faced with ignorant comments. I share to let my family and friends know. What my husband and I need from them and they've shared with us how it's helped them help us. So thank you again!

  8. Wow! you hit the huge nail on the tiny head! Thank you.

  9. Thank you for this! Sometimes we just don't know how to put things into the proper perspective. I have experienced loss, several friends have experienced loss. Every one of us is different. I celebrate the lives of the babies, grieve with the parents when they need it and grieve for myself every now and again. I don't pity, I rejoice; the babies existed.

  10. Great blog, Rebecca. Am shocked by negative comments and lack of sympathy but they are in a minority.
    Look forward to reading more of your entries. X

  11. Perfectly stated! I love the way you articulated what I've hoped to so many times. Since we lost our son, Seth, in 2009 I've felt such a drive to speak his name and share his story.

  12. As a dad I understand. One of the fears that all parents who have lost children have is losing the memories they have of them. I have written a blog for the last 5 years to help people understand what this kind of grief is like. People understand on a intellectual level that grief will occur, but when it really happens many are not emotionally prepared for it. Beside my blog I have put together a website to help all grieving families.

  13. Thank you for this! I love knowing there are others out there that understand what I am going through and social media is just one way that helps us know we are not alone.