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Stillbirth Advice for Parents

“Get out of the house, especially if it is the site where the loss happened. Go away for a weekend to somewhere familiar where you feel safe.”

“Make sure you have someone other than your partner that knows what’s going on and is very supportive. Since you both will be dealing with the loss, it would be helpful to have someone or multiple someones to lean on or talk to about the loss. Also, be gentle with yourself and your partner – don’t beat yourself up with should’ve, would’ve, could’ves.”

“Make your [own] decisions … without being rushed into them. Because probably you’re in shock and you’ll make decisions which in a normal situation you wouldn’t. Think it over. Take [all] the time [you need] to make all decisions… because [these are] the things you’re going to have in mind forever, and it’s important. The few days after the death are very important, and you’re going to be playing them forever in your mind, so try to take the time to make the right decisions for yourself.”

“When [my son] died, I would go places and people would see me who knew what had happened and they would turn and smile and they would see it was me and their face would fall. I hated that. I hated everyone looking at me like they were sad when they saw me. It’s okay to tell people that. It’s okay to say to people ‘you can be happy to see me.’ I wish I had been able to say that to people.”

“I don’t know about you, but my grief doesn’t like to do dishes, so have a fucking paper plate!”

“I would have liked to have realized earlier that I should still take care of myself as far as needing to talk about her, commemorate, I mean, especially on her birthday. I wish that it hadn’t taken me five years to figure out that I should be allowed to celebrate her birthday and talk about her, especially on that day, you know? Other times, I usually put so much pressure on myself to try to not make other people uncomfortable. Obviously, it’s not something you can run around saying to people all the time, because you are going to make people uncomfortable, they aren’t gonna want to hang out with you! People don’t like to discuss death in general, our society’s kind of scared of it, but on certain days, especially like her birthday or Mother’s Day…. I wish I had known earlier on that that was okay [to be] able to talk. You’re allowed to have these days, and it’s okay.”

”Collect all the memories possible … and if possible, spend some time with [your child]. I had the privilege of spending four hours with [my son] and I really treasure the memory of that time…. It was shocking in a way to have my baby and he was dead in my arms, but the memories are treasured.”

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“This [loss] is a part of your life and you’re gonna be hearing these questions [about it] for the rest of your life. You’re gonna have to come up with something [to tell people] that works for you. One of my favorite pieces of advice [was] that if it’s someone you’re just meeting for a brief time, once or for a brief time, then generally [I just tell them about my] living children. [But] if it was someone that you’re gonna have a longer relationship with, that you’re gonna work with them for an extended period of time or that you were gonna be having to see for any period of time in the future, [then I would tell them about] the [children I] didn’t have anymore.”

“It’s a funny thing to say but, death is natural and normal. Even the death of children. It’s horrifying of course, [but] I have a very good friend who’s like my mom, who is almost 79, and she lost a daughter. Her daughter was 11, and she was abducted, and raped, and murdered…. And that experience puts things in perspective or me and informs it, because she is someone who, despite how horrible that experience was, has gone on to be an inspiration to others and is loving and loves life and wasn’t destroyed by it…and, and if anything, is stronger. There’s a way we need to see our losses in the context of the losses of humanity…. We have to grieve, but also, we’re a society that is compartmentalized and isolated from death and loss…its part of life, and it’s nothing new, and the fact we don’t lose children in the ways people used to keeps us from the horror of it…. There’s something about having inspiration of knowing people, that people can survive loss and can be flourishing fantastic people even though they have experienced death and loss. For me, in some ways, that’s always informed my experience.”

“One piece of advice that I would give right from the beginning, whether it’s in a miscarriage context or within a trying to get pregnant context, is to make sure that the health care providers you’re working with are genuinely supportive and non-homophobic in a really heartfelt, real way. [You need] someone in the group of people who are helping you to try to conceive or who are helping you through a pregnancy …. who are just genuinely a hundred percent supportive of you on your journey, wherever it goes to.”

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