Grief from the perspective an old man talking to someone who has lost a child:
"Alright, here goes. I'm old. What that means is that I've survived (so far) and a lot of people I've known and loved did not. I've lost friends, best friends, acquaintances, co-workers, grandparents, mom, relatives, teachers, mentors, students, neighbors, and a host of other folks. I have no children, and I can't imagine the pain it must be to lose a child. But here's my two cents.
I wish I could say you get used to people dying. I never did. I don't want to. It hears a hole through me whenever somebody I love dies, no matter the circumstances. But I don't want it to "not matter". I don't want it to be something that just passes.
My scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person. And if the scar is deep, so was the love. So be it. Scars are a testament that I can love deeply and live deeply and be cut, or even gouged, and that I can heal and continue to live and continue to love. And the scar tissue is stronger than the original flesh ever was. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are only ugly to people who can’t see.
As for grief, you’ll find it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you’re drowning, with wreckage all around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was, and is no more. And all you can do is float. You find some piece of the wreckage and you hang on for a while. Maybe it’s some physical thing. Maybe it’s a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it’s a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float. Stay alive.
In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don’t even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you’ll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they still crash all over you and wipe you out. But in between, you can breathe, you can function. You never know what’s going to trigger the grief. It might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything…and the wave comes crashing. But in between waves, there is life.
Somewhere down the line, and it’s different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall. Or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or landing at O’Hare. You can see it coming, for the most part, and prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you’ll come out.
Take it from an old guy. The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don’t really want them to. But you learn that you’ll survive them. And other waves will come. And you’ll survive them too. If you’re lucky, you’ll have lots of scars from lots of loves. And lots of shipwrecks.”
In recent years, more movies are being centered around a theme of pregnancy or infant loss. It's incredibly important for filmmakers to create these movies so our society as a whole can shift our views on discussing baby loss, grief, and supporting bereaved families.
Some of the more popular films include Return to Zero, The Starling, The Light Between Oceans, and Pieces of a Woman. Please note that if you have experienced a pregnancy or infant loss and should you decide to view any of these films, it may be triggering for you. Please have a self-care plan in place and a support person you can view the movie with or talk to afterwards to process your feelings.
As grief affects each person so differently, it can be tricky to recommend one film over another. Some people may connect with a specific movie plot or find a character's own grief process more relatable, where someone else may have the opposite reaction. However, our community as a whole has said Return to Zero seems to be the most realistic portrayal of stillbirth and the parents' grief journey afterwards. The Starling did not receive great reviews from our community. Specifically, one scene between two of the characters discusses the "stages of grief" and gives the impression that each person follows these stages in a linear timeline. The reality is quite the opposite, and you do not "graduate" or fully complete a stage. It's highly probable that you will feel those particular feelings again at some point, though maybe not to the same extreme.
The Light Between Oceans focuses on many themes in the plot including pregnancy loss and the after-affect on the mother and the decisions she makes for the future, as well as how grief can greatly affect a person's mental health and wellbeing. There are a few scenes that may be triggering as the portrayal of going through physical aspects of miscarriage are shown. However, the director included a realistic view to show the audience how truly tragic losing a baby is. This is similar for Pieces of a Woman, where the beginning 45 minutes of the movie focuses on the birth of the baby. It appears the director really wants the audience to be engaged in the birthing process to feel the grief and unimaginable loss the parents will go through later on.
Have you seen any of these movies and what are your thoughts on the storylines? What other movies have you seen with the theme of baby loss? Please share with us in the comments.
Unfortunately there's no quick fix for grief or a fast-forward button. But there are things you can do to help take care of yourself, even if it gives you just a few minutes of relief each day.
- Embrace the comfy clothes. Wear your favorite sweatshirt, treat yourself to a new pair of slippers, or curl up in a soft blanket.
- Try reading for 10 minutes before you go to bed - it may just help you fall asleep faster.
- Whether you decide to journal privately, share your story on social media or create an art project, these are all ways to express your feelings. Don't keep it all bottled up.
- Trouble falling asleep or waking up frequently is common while grieving. Don't be afraid to bring this up to your provider. Try laying down for just 20 minutes during the day to at least rest, even if you can't fall asleep.
- Connecting with nature can be very healing - getting some steps in for light movement and feeling the sunshine is a huge plus.
- Find a new way to honor your baby - some ideas: share your story in a support group, wear a remembrance bracelet, paint rocks and hide them around your town, drop off some goods to your local food pantry, create a playlist of meaningful songs.
- Keep hydrated - it sounds silly, but remembering to drink water or tea is important. Your body is physically healing, as well, and needs the nourishment.
What will you do today to take care of yourself? Share any other ideas with us here in the comments.
This is where we share YOUR stories - your loss matters, your baby matters, you always matter.