April 19, 2012

The Bereaved

I'm sure many of you have heard in the news the terrible story of the woman who was shot multiple times outside a pediatric clinic in Texas as her newborn son was abducted. Fortunately the baby has since been returned to his family, but will grow up without his mother. The woman accused of the murder and abduction had reportedly just had a miscarriage and told her fiance that she had given birth to his baby.

It's a sick and horrible thing and part of what upsets me is how this may portray those in the baby loss community. It reminded me of an episode from the show Private Practice in which one of the main characters who is pregnant, is tied up and temporarily paralyzed by a crazed and desperate woman who had recently lost a baby and in her delusional state thinks that the pregnant woman is carrying her child. She basically performs an at home C-Section and leaves the woman for dead. Granted it's a TV show and the baby ends up being taken to the hospital, crazy woman arrested, main character lives, yadda, yadda . . . yet again it's the portrayal of a woman who goes bat-shit crazy after losing her child.

And I wish I could say that it's not like that in real life. But this woman in Texas proves otherwise. But I can say, for the most part, that is so very far from the truth. I've lost a son. I've given birth to a baby who didn't cry upon delivery and left the hospital with a small box of mementos instead of a newborn safely buckled into his car seat. I lost a piece of my heart and became one of the hundreds of thousands of women who are an unfortunate statistic. But while it may not have felt like it early on, I didn't totally lose my mind. I didn't for once think to do something so horrible and drastic like steal another woman's child. Sure, I became one of the bereaved, but I became a person who had to figure out how to live life again with someone I never had to begin with and in doing so I have met and encountered so many others who have been there - before me, with me, and sadly who continue to be after me. Who have survived. Who have, in a sense, triumphed over this awful and horrible loss that at times feels like it can consume you by simply getting up each day and doing our best to live life again. I have found some incredibly passionate and strong and beautiful voices in the baby loss community. People who are normal and inspiring. Our tragic experiences may have forever changed us, but I truly feel that each one of us has gained some intangible strengths and genuine qualities that are a result of these brief and powerful lives that touched ours for far too short of a time.

When I was pregnant with Finn, and would see other pregnant woman I would often get a twinge of bitterness. I would unfairly assume that they didn't know how lucky they were or how good they had it. But I would (and still do) try to remind myself that I don't know every one's story. I don't know what people have been through and what burdens they are carrying with them every day. Because the bereaved are all around us. I sometimes wonder what people see when they meet my husband. Upon first glance you probably don't see a man who in the span of eight months lost his son and his brother. Because somehow, someway he didn't totally lose himself. Which is kind of amazing if you think about it. But it's the only life he's been given and it's the way it is. And we are certainly not the only people affected by tragedy.

In fact, what I have learned is that the bereaved are some of the most beautiful people I know.


  1. I agree, the bereaved are beautiful people. I guess because they have really seen the beauty and fragility of life and know that nothing is guaranteed in this life.

    Oh the woman who stole that woman's child and killed her. So horrible. It does make us all look a wee bit crazed. I remember thinking about people like that right after we lost Harper and thinking I didn't want someone else's baby, I wanted mine and I knew I could never have her back, at least not on this side of Heaven.

  2. Couldn't agree more.

    I also wrestle with the fear someone could try and steal my baby and that thought alone makes me sick. :(

  3. Ugh... I lost a piece of my mind and went a little crazy the day Camille died and was born. It is by far the worst thing ICANN think of... Giving birth to a dead baby, how can that not fuck you up? But... I didn't want someone else's baby. I wanted my daughter. Sure I am bitter about all the healthy babies born around the same time, and blissful pregnancies line mine that ended well instead of tragically but, I didn't steal someone's baby. I smile and laugh. And like you said, it is the only life we have so we just keep going.. Loving, living, hoping.

  4. When I came home from work last week this was all over the news in Houston. At that time they were still looking for the lady and the poor little baby. My mom was watching it and as I sat down to watch with her the only thing I could think was "what would I do if someone tried to take Mason?" I probably would have gone down just like that poor woman because I would have been fighting too. I felt so incredibly sad for that family.

    And then the next day I thought like you. I lost my son and a huge piece of myself. But I never wanted to take someone else's child. How could you do that to another person knowing the pain it caused you? Like you said you learn how to survive. You learn how to live with your loss and your pain. You keep living.

    I have meet some of the most beautiful people in the world since losing Aiden- like you lady. I agree completely about bereaved beauty ♥

  5. "...the bereaved are some of the most beautiful people I know."
    Especially you <3

  6. Thank you for your post Ms. Caroline. Eloquent as always. You are so talented. So fortunate to have you in my fold! ;-) xoxo

  7. Such a sad news story... and the kind of shitty press that the bereaved do not need. Heartbreaking.

    I love what you said about the bereaved being all around us. I thought about that just the other day as I was glaring enviously at a couple pushing a stroller, and then realized that someone else could just as easily see my belly and be jealous, having no idea what I've been through or what my story is.