A Letter to the Bereaved Mama: From a Supporter

Dear Bereaved Mamas,

This week, with both Bereaved Mother’s Day and Mother’s Day just behind us, please know this: I remember your babies. While I’m not a bereaved mother—and would never claim to understand your pain—I am a mother and I want to be there for you. I see you and I see your children. I read your posts, watch your stories, look at photos of your kids.

Your babies are beautiful.

To learn your family’s whole story, I dig through your old posts. Then look at your photos again. Next, if your child was diagnosed with something unfamiliar to me, I research it. Learning more about conditions and diseases, both common and rare, helps me to understand what you went through. What you are going through. Because I am able to, I often donate to a foundation working for cures or treatments. And again, I look at your child’s photos, including the hardest ones. (I worry you think no one looks at the hardest moments, that no one sees them but you. We do. We see them.)

We won’t forget your children.

What I’ve learned from reading your words is that sometimes you feel really alone. Like everyone forgets what happened to you, forgets you’ve experienced the worst pain imaginable, and wants you to just be ok. To stop bringing it up. But there are people like me who somehow stumble across your story months and years after your child died. And we take the time to learn about your baby. We want to. Helping to keep your child’s memory alive is an honor.

Grief is deeply personal, but you tell me there are still people who think there’s a “right” way to grieve. You’re not supposed to ever smile again, or you’re supposed to move on faster. Or, somehow, both. I think whatever you’re doing right now, in your grief, is just what you need to be doing. It is exactly the right thing. (We all know this shouldn’t need to be said, but you’re allowed to grieve if your children died before they were born—I see you, too, mamas of babies who were never delivered and mamas of those who were stillborn. I don’t forget your babies either.)

Everything is harder right now, with most of us distanced from our loved ones, support systems, and comforting traditions. Things are most certainly harder for you too. I’m afraid to say the wrong thing in this letter, afraid that I’ll annoy you or belittle you somehow, but I also believe that saying nothing out of fear isn’t right. So to you, mourning your child in a time of isolation (whether you’ve been mourning for years or days)…please know there are strangers like me—people outside your friends, acquaintances, and support groups—who are witnesses. We are thinking of you, and grieving the fact that children die. And we’re mad, and we cry.

We won’t forget your babies.

Love,
A Supporter/Fellow Mama

 

Marisa mostly grew up in Ohio, but has been in the Madison area for longer than she’s lived anywhere else. She’s married to a patient and inspiring guy named Matt, and is mom to one son (May 2015) and one daughter (November 2017). Her undergraduate degree is in journalism, and she received her master’s degree in Library and Information Studies from UW-Madison. After working as a librarian for several years, she’s returning to her first loves—writing and editing. Aside from family and work, Marisa fills her time with yoga, travel, and effusively praising her rescue mutt, Chester. She dreams of one day having a pack of large dogs slobbering all over her house.

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