Chapter 5 of “Hannah’s Hope” by Jennifer Saake discusses how to cope with other people’s’ comments during infertility or after a loss of a baby at any stage:
“People who haven’t walked in our shoes have no idea of the depths to which we grieve and experience anger and hopelessness.”
We have all been subjected to insensitive comments. Most people are well-meaning but ignorant. Many don’t know what to say and fumble through conversations in an attempt to be comforting. I liked how Ms. Saake tries to reframe difficult comments and give grace to the person delivering the sometimes insensitive words:
“When your friend says, ‘Don’t you want to trust God instead of taking those fertility drugs?’, she may mean something more like ‘Reproductive medicine is a scary concept for me, and I would rather see God let you have a baby without you needing to endure any more grief.’ Or her suggestion to ‘just adopt and then you’ll get pregnant’ could be here way of expressing that she knows you are good motherhood material and she would like to see your arms filled as soon as possible.”
You need to read the “Burden Bearers” section at the end of this chapter for practical tips to share with friends/family. Sometimes all we need to hear is, “Wow, this must be very hard. I’ll be praying for you.”
Since my personal journey included many losses I can relate to “Tracey’s” story at the beginning of the chapter. Her son was stillborn at 18 weeks gestation. People don’t know what to do with that information. What do you say? Many can’t conceptualize what a baby at 18 weeks looks like or don’t consider it a “real” baby yet. Most are just uninformed.
One of my sons, James, was born at 21 weeks gestation. He died during the delivery. He was fully formed, tiny toes, nose like his brother, fingernails. He was a little shorter than a ruler and lacked the cute baby fat but to his mother, he was beautiful. The nurses dressed him in jammies, we got to hold him and take photos and we had a graveside funeral for him.
I had such a hard time compartmentalizing what happened, how was I supposed to feel, what was I supposed to tell others? I didn’t notice much what other people said. My heart was just broken and filled with unbelievable disappointment.
Everyone deals with loss and infertility differently. Try to be compassionate both on the giving and receiving ends.