Love and Loss

It took me approximately 8 years to decide I was okay with telling people I have 11 siblings, but 10 of them are living. I was 6 when my little brother was born and died in the space of 5 days, and even though I was pretty young, I was old enough to realize that people get skittish talking about death, especially when the deceased is a baby.

Whenever I gave the “honest” answer about my family, I ended up consoling the person I was talking to: “Oh, no, it’s okay. He was just a little baby, he was perfect, we’ll see him again someday . . . .”

I am sure that I’m not alone in this situation because my sister-in-law has the same issue. Her 2nd baby, a girl, was stillborn at 37 weeks. Every time someone asks about her kids she has to decide if she wants to get into the details. She has 5 kids, but 4 are living.

I’m thinking about this because this article made me realize that even with my experience, I could be better at loving those who have lost by letting them talk about it – rather than making them feel like they ruined my day. There’s no reason to squirm when someone tells you someone they loved died. People like talking about people they loved. I’m pretty sure of that. And if you let them, they’d probably be happy to have an excuse to remember their loved one without feeling like they need to apologize for it.

It was after I wrote a paper about Matthew in 8th grade that I decided it was more important for me to recognize him as a part of my family, as my brother, than to spare someone the reality that babies die. If you asked me, I would tell you about how my family used to go to his grave every Sunday to sing to him, because he liked it when we sang to him when he was in the hospital. I would tell you about the polaroids the nurses took of each of us holding him. I would tell you that my mom likes to give a gift to a new baby every year to celebrate his birthday.

It’s hard to know what to say to someone when they tell you their baby died, but maybe start with, “Do you want to talk about it? How do you remember them?”

It might just be as simple as that. #loveinreallife

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8 Comments

  1. Lizzie, thank you so much for sharing this.

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    lizzie Reply:

    Thanks Christy!

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  2. This is a wonderful post. Two of my nephews have died as babies (one at 11 minutes old and the other at 3 months old) and it is a wonderful thing to be able to remember them because they are apart of our family!

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    lizzie Reply:

    Thanks Eliza. It is wonderful to be able to remember . . . and to share the love with others happily, and not with the fear of making them sad.

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  3. This was so touching Lizzie, particularly you all singing at Matthew’s grave. And really helpful to know how to talk with someone who has experienced such loss.

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    lizzie Reply:

    Thanks Kathleen. I hope my advice is helpful at times . . . and that I can learn to use it as well.

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  4. Beautiful, Lizzie. Thanks for the advice on how to talk about it.

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    lizzie Reply:

    Thanks you, Heather. I hope one day to learn how to take my own advice.

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  5. This choked me up, in a beautiful sort of real-life-love kind of way. I don’t always have time to comment but I just love your “real life love” posts. I also think it’s so sweet that your mom gives a gift in Matthews honor each year. You come from such an amazing and special family!

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    lizzie Reply:

    Thanks Tysha! I always love hearing from you.

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  6. Wow you are an amazing woman! I’m glad I found your blog.

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