Thursday, January 28, 2010

This Doesn't Have To Be A Secret

This is a very good article that was posted in my stillbirth forum.  It's an amazing read, and I would like to share a few tidbits (but encourage you to read the whole thing).

"When I was a teenager in Boston a man on the subway handed me a card printed with tiny pictures of hands spelling out the alphabet in sign language. I AM DEAF, said the card. You were supposed to give the man some money in exchange.

I have thought of that card ever since, during difficult times, mine or someone else's: Surely when tragedy has struck you dumb, you should be given a stack of cards that explains it for you. My first child was stillborn. I want people to know but I don't want to say it aloud. People don't like to hear it but I think they might not mind reading it on a card."

And this one explains why I love my baby loss mommies so very much:

"She asked me how my pregnancy was going. Then she said, "I was so sorry when I heard about your first child. My first child was stillborn, too."

My heart kicked on like a furnace. Suddenly tears were pouring down my face.

"Oh no!" said the woman. "I didn't mean for that to happen!"

I laughed and grabbed some napkins from the table and tried to explain myself, though even now it's hard to find the words. What came over me was gratitude and an entirely inappropriate love. I didn't know the woman but I loved her.

It's a sort of kinship, is all I can say, as though there is a family tree of grief. On this branch the lost children, on this the suicided parents, here the beloved mentally ill siblings. When something terrible happens you discover all of a sudden that you have a new set of relatives, people with whom you can speak in the shorthand of cousins."

And finally:
"And now I'm thinking of that Florida lady again, the one who wanted a book about the lighter side of a child's death, and I know: All she wanted was permission to remember her child with pleasure, instead of grief. To remember that he was dead but to remember him without pain. He's dead but of course she still loves him and that love isn't morbid or bloodstained or unsightly, it doesn't need to be shoved away.

It isn't so much to ask. "


  1. It is a very good article. She actually has an entire book (that article is taken from parts of her book) that I read just over a year ago called An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination a memoir by Elizabeth McCracken.

  2. Oh how I wish I could just write the whole sad tale out on a card.

    I remember a lady at the supermarket,, where I was buying nappies for my surviving daughter ask where the baby was. The answer, she was still in intensive care and my other daughter had died, just wouldn't come out. I didn't know what to say, it would have been easier to just have had a little card to hand over.