Tuesday, October 18, 2016

We Still Have Work To Do

   As many have heard, October is pregnancy and infant awareness month. Even more specifically, October 15th is International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. People all over the world took part in remembrance events. Personally, my Facebook feed was flooded with people honoring and remembering babies gone too soon. I was so proud. Can I say proud when it involves babies who've died? Well, I was. So many families were breaking the stigma of silence surrounding their babies gone too soon. I was happy for them, that they felt that freedom. Happy to know the names, birth months, the very existence of so many tiny lives. Proud that so many in the terrible bereaved parents club I am a part of had the courage to thrust their grief into the open and say, 'Here! My baby lived! My baby is missed. My baby existed whether anyone else saw him or her.' It can be such a tough thing to do, and that's why so many still hold back.
   As I scrolled while I nursed throughout the day, both on Instagram and Facebook, I developed a misconception. For a fleeting moment I thought 'Awareness' was a bit of a silly word for this day. I mean, just look at all these people, huge crowds gathered in Colorado at the Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep Rememberance Walk and in Missouri at The Hearts Release at the Gateway Arch, and so many other local events across the world. A search of hashtags showed my candle photo on Instagram in honor of my son was just a tiny flicker in the sea of candles posted as part of the International Wave of Light at 7pm on October 15th in all time zones across the world. Surely people are aware. Aware of the pain. Aware of the prevalence. Aware that statistically at least one out of every four women they knew was the mother of a dead baby. How could they not be?
   Then it all became clear.

We still have work to do.

   My foolishness vanished into a sea of head-swirling nausea when, in the days since, I have seen a screenshot of a woman's Facebook post of her stillborn son's headstone mocked and called a ploy for sympathy and attention. That is never okay.  To be clear: The headstone of a dead baby is a physical sign of a child's death. To acknowledge that death- ESPECIALLY on the International Day of Remembrance is not a ploy for sympathy or attention.

We Still have work to do.

   When it is ever okay for women we know and respect to look at another woman's loss and pick apart how it is believed the mother caused that death, and call her grief, "Disgusting," and relish in the fact that she had no familial support burying her child because of it, there has been a massive break-down in understanding loss. That is never okay. To be clear: even a woman who has had an elective abortion is still the mother of a dead baby, and is allowed to grieve her loss.

We still have work to do.

   When the manner in which a baby is laid to rest is up for criticism and debate when a family did what was both legal and in their finances, we have a major problem. To make fun of a handmade coffin and sparsely attended funeral for a baby, calling it embarrassing is a sick, sick shame indeed. That is never okay. To be clear: Caskets are expensive. Funerals are expensive. We're talking tens of thousands expensive in many areas. If a family is dealing with financial hardship on top of the loss of their child and they must completely "DIY" their precious child's service, their anguish should not be added to by the disdain and hate from others.

We still have work to do.

   When people rejoice over the death of an unborn child because a family is deemed by society to already be "too large," we should be sickened. That is never okay. To be clear: The death of a child is the death of a child, no matter if it is the first or the 21st in the family.

We Still have work to do.

   When the value of a child's life depends solely on the mother's desire to parent and makes the entire difference between a precious child to be mourned and disposable products of conception,

WE STILL HAVE WORK TO DO.

Until every family has the support they need in the space where birth and death meet,

Until every woman has the support she needs to choose life,

Until every person is recognized as an irreplaceable, real, human being,

Until life is sacred and all have the societal 'right' to grieve its loss no matter the situation,

Until we see them again

We still have work to do. 


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