No One Wants to Talk About it….

By Michelle L. Cramer. Founder & Executive Director

I’ve been working with bereaved families for nearly 14 years now and that is the underlying thing I’ve learned – everyone wants to pretend that babies don’t die. Parents suffer in silence because no one wants to hear how much it hurts. Those who haven’t gone through it tend to ignore the subject entirely, pretending it’s not happening.

I’ve never gone through it. I’ve never had a miscarriage or child loss. I’ve been pregnant twice and, while we had a scare 6 weeks in with my second child, I had live births. My pregnancies were otherwise uneventful, and our boys were not born with any condition that puts their life at risk.

But from the moment I discovered the commonality of stillbirth, I chose to talk about how others get the short end of the stick. At the time, my oldest was just a month old and I has been naïve up to that point. I thought that if you make it past your first trimester, you’re golden. My grandmother had two infant losses, but ‘those things don’t happen anymore.’ When my eyes were opened to the truth – that 1 in 160 U.S. babies are stillborn (about 24,000 annually) – I was never again to sit idly by and allow these families to endure it alone.

I will never to be silent. I will always speak up on their behalf.

For the last eight years, my team and I have worked to change the stigma of silence around pregnancy and infant loss. Some are getting bolder about it: I see more posts floating around social media, news stories of ‘those last images together.’ But most of the time, it’s the parents that are attempting so desperately to be heard – to tear through the sound proof room the world has locked them in. And even when these parents break free, many around them still cover their ears and hum a tune just to avoid listening.

Because it’s too hard for them to talk about. Too hard to acknowledge that this is part of the world we live in. Show people a neglected dog and that post will go viral. Missing person’s reports see hundreds of ‘shares.’ Domestic violence shelters have substantial turn outs for fundraisers. (*These are all valid causes.) But bring the reality of infant loss to the table, and everyone quietly sits down their forks under a fog of silence.

These families need us. They need all of us. The loneliness is crushing them.

Our volunteer photographers (myself included) constantly hear “You’re such a special person for being involved in this. I could never do what you do. It must be so hard.” Okay, fine – I’ll concede that it isn’t for everyone to be directly involved. But what you can do is help to break the silence. Start a conversation. Share a post.

Reach out to those you know who have been through it. Don’t try to fix it. Don’t try to find the right thing to say – neither of these things are possible. Instead, be honest: “I don’t know what to say or do to help you – I can’t understand what you’re going through – but I am here for you. What can I do to help make today easier?”

That gesture lets in a little of the light for these grieving parents – suddenly they’re no longer engulfed by the darkness of silence.

Someone sees them. Someone is finally talking.

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