Thursday, September 26, 2013

How Unfortunate

I'm in a little bit of a mood today (partially due to poor sleep), so I figured it was a perfect day to write about my stillborn son. Because that also makes me angry and sad. Which is a mood. And not a positive one.

The husband and I were chatting with a couple we didn't know the other day. Benjamin was off playing in the church and they asked about children. We chimed in about our 19-month old son. And then they asked if that was our only child. I told them we had a son before and he died at birth due to a cord issue.

Her response (as she held her 6-week old newborn girl, their third daughter)...

"How unfortunate."

That response caught me so off-guard that I couldn't even respond. The proper response to the tragedy of a lost life is empathy/sympathy and sadness. Something along the lines of I'm sorry or that's horrible would've been appropriate.

It's unfortunate when you leave the milk out on the counter and it spoils. Or when you get a flat tire. Or when your favorite team loses a game.

When your firstborn son dies, it's a whole lot more than unfortunate.

It makes me angry that other parents don't even see the value of human life. You're holding a newborn baby. What if someone took her away? She died in her sleep? Contracted a terminal illness?

I'd have a whole lot more to say to you than how unfortunate that would be.

21 comments:

Kari at A Grace Full Life said... [Reply to comment]

Holy crap, I can think of a lot better words to say than "unfortunate".
I am not going to make excuses for this person, like maybe she is one of those people that freezes up or blurts out the wrong thing when posed with a conversation like you had.
It would have taken the breath out of me to sit there and try to further the conversation with Miss Blurt (not her real name).
Sorry you are having a bad day.
Big hugs.

Party of Three Heads said... [Reply to comment]

I've really come to the conclusion that no one has an f'n clue what goes on behind closed doors with loosing a baby, a life, until it personally happens to them... I could tell a couple of stories, but it would light a fire in my ass, and I'm pretty sure one's already lit today... :) Loosing a baby, is SO much more than unfortunate... <3

Brooke said... [Reply to comment]

I completely agree with you that that word is so... wrong. So flat and ordinary and completely inappropriate for trying to convey the level of trauma and grief that results from having a stillborn baby.

And what is even crazier is that you would THINK someone who'd just had a baby could better empathize, but that has not been the case in my experience, either.

Also: If you hear that someone has a healthy baby, can you imagine how people would look at you if your response was, "That's fortunate."

And it IS. It is good fortune to have a healthy baby. It's luck and chance and most of the time fortune plays nice. We just got the worst of those very slim odds. But just as the birth of a healthy baby feels so much more important than just "fortunate," the loss of one is so much more than just unfortunate.

What a douchebag.

Jessica said... [Reply to comment]

Seriously?!? It continues to amaze me when people still say the most ignorant and inappropriate things when they hear about someone's loss. Grrr!

Natasha said... [Reply to comment]

What an idiot. People just don't think. And we always seem to have to interact with these non thinkers. Ugggghhh. So sorry friend.

Veronica said... [Reply to comment]

Oh the things I could say about this. That WORD.

That word was said to me days after Alexander was stillborn,,. By a Family member!

People fucking suck. I'm sorry you interacted with one of the stickiest fucking people out there.

Ben and Katie said... [Reply to comment]

Boo on them!
It's unfortunate she had to say that and leave you in a mood!
Andrew = amazing lil man who got robbed of life!
Praying for your heart tonight!

Caroline said... [Reply to comment]

What's unfortunate is how inadequate the response of some people is. And a new mother?! Sweet lord that would have put me in a mood too.

Molly said... [Reply to comment]

I had someone tell me once "Oh, don't you just hate that??" As if I told her the milk spoiled as you said. This makes me never want to talk to new people. How unfortunate you came into contact with those idiots.

katie illingworth said... [Reply to comment]

I agree with Brooke. What a douchebag.

I had a woman say that same thing to me once.

Laura McCannell said... [Reply to comment]

@Molly


Ugh- are you kidding?

what an idiot that person is!

Laura McCannell said... [Reply to comment]

You know how I feel about it. It's unfortunate she chose those words. It's unfortunate that the Maple Leafs NEVER make the playoffs. It's unfortunate I have a cold and a snotty nose (you're welcome for the info!). What is not unfortunate, and instead completely heartbreaking and unfair is that Andrew isn't here to harass his younger brother (and....) and to bug his momma for long walks and cuddles. And books. I feel like Andrew would ALSO love books.

New Momma said... [Reply to comment]

I'm going to play devil's advocate for a second and say that maybe she was caught off guard, couldn't think of the right word in the moment, or that's simply how it came out. Many times, those who have not lost a child don't know the right words to say that don't sting. I'm sure her intention was good and that the right sentiments were there behind maybe an inappropriate word.

Amelia said... [Reply to comment]

That's just nauseating. I'm so sorry.

Amelia said... [Reply to comment]

That's just nauseating. I'm so sorry.

Renel said... [Reply to comment]

I'm sorry I haven't been here. It's unfortunate I haven't read your words. But I hate that woman. It makes it even more nauseating that she was holding an infant as the word escaped her lips. It's unfortunate that you had to endure her idiotic existence for even a minute. Another reason why you should be over on Bitch, Please!

LookItsJessica said... [Reply to comment]

Ouch! I'm sorry she was so insensitive and trivialized the worst tragedy in your life. People need to put some thought into their freaking words!

JoyAndSorrow said... [Reply to comment]

Just another example of how ridiculous people can be in response to our horrible losses. And oddly enough they don't even seem to REALIZE they're being ridiculous. *hugs!* (Must be nice to be so naiive, right?)

Sneaker Teacher said... [Reply to comment]

Last year, I had a pregnant mom call me to explain her son was absent from school because they received a terminal diagnosis for her unborn child. That mother committed suicide later in the school year when her child passed and every time I think of her, I wish I said something different to her on that phone call. I'm sure whatever came out wasn't the right thing to say, but I wasn't prepared and I honestly don't think there is anything to say that is the right thing. This school year I had a parent share with me my student's twin brother passed away last year of a brain tumor when he was 4 years old and again, whatever I said was probably wrong. I would hate to think that either of these mothers replayed what I said and thought of me as stupid or heartless or an idiot. I wish I had something eloquent to say, but I feel like words fail when it comes to how to respond when someone tells you about the death of their child. From the perspective of someone who has said whatever words just happened to come out upon hearing these awful sad things from parents, trust me, I have definitely thought about what I said and wished that I had said something different or could say something different in that moment that wouldn't bring them more anger or sadness. I don't know that those words exist.

Julie said... [Reply to comment]

How unfortunate that you're so out of touch with your fellow humans. How unfortunate that you just lost a relationship with a great person because you're standing there with the lottery and basically gave them a token ten bucks for having played and lost.

I appreciated the comment Sneaker Teacher wrote, and just sent her a note saying that in my experience "The best response isn't words at all. It's someone tearing up in recognition that the loss of a child devastates you forever, that they recognize you and your life will never be the same, and that the world is missing Someone. Second best is a genuine 'I'm so sorry.' and a follow up question that acknowledges their child as a person, as a family member. Asking the child's name, for example, goes a long way."

Because I just had a semi-similar experience and was off balance for the rest of the day. I mean...ruffled and annoyed and plotting what I would say next time I have to see this woman. The stupid ass dental hygienist who seems to find it necessary to small talk her way through the whole hour about family and when I couldn't take it anymore and started to clam up the last 20 minutes, then explained to her at the end why I did so, she INTERRUPTED me telling me that she knew I'd lost a child but something along the lines of "your daughter's here now AND THAT'S ALL THAT MATTERS".
Which left me so stunned that I couldn't say another word to her at all. Nor look at her. That she'd spend the whole hour asking about my family and our recent activities and plans and share all about her kids but never once acknowledge Anna in all of it.
I could still wrap my hands around her throat.

Anyway. I'm sorry Brandy. What a schmuck.


Solange, Nik, Caitlin and Oliver said... [Reply to comment]

Holy shit. That was nowhere near ok. I'm so sorry you had to deal with that!