What Not to Say When a Baby Dies

Today Finley would have been 21 weeks old…

I am currently sitting here wishing I could remember what I was planning to write about. I spent hours waiting for my husband to get off of the laptop so that I could write it, and now it has completely fled from my mind.

Instead I’m going to write about a conversation I was having with a friend earlier today –  the things that people say when they find out your baby has died to try and comfort you. But usually (in my experience) these things just end up making you feel worse.

  • It is God’s will/he’s with God now/only God knows why – Well actually I’m not even sure I believe in a God who would knowingly let me get pregnant, carry my son to full term and then take him away almost as quickly as he was born. That doesn’t sound like the kind of God I want to believe in.
  • Life/God never gives us more than we can handle – I personally think this just sounds stupid. I can’t handle being without my son, I only keep going because there isn’t a whole lot of choice left to me. Also, if I’m just an abnormally strong person, does that mean that I will just continue to have crap thrown at me in life? To be honest I’m fed up with it now.
  • He’s probably better off if there was something wrong with him – Actually there wasn’t anything ‘wrong’ with him as far as we know. His umbilical cord was in a knot which cut off his oxygen.
  • At least you’re young/can still conceive/can have more children – Yes, I am still young, but that doesn’t mean that I want to live without Finley. Having him was a choice, and being his mother changed me forever. Yes, I can have more children, but they will be brothers or sisters to Finley, and not replacements. Even if I were to have a hundred more children, I would still miss him terribly.
  • Everything will be ok in your next pregnancy and you will get to bring a baby home – Well no, this isn’t strictly true. I have the same odds of something going wrong next time as I did this time. I know of several people that have had more than one loss. Nothing is a guarantee, and I will never take any pregnancy for granted again.
  • Everything happens for a reason – What good reason is there that my son had to die? Would you be saying this if it was your child who died?

That’s all I can think of for the time being. I probably sound like a crazy cow, and to be honest anything that people say is better than not saying anything at all. The worst feeling in the world is when people turn their back on you because they think they might say the wrong thing or they don’t want to be sad around you, or they find you too sad to be around.

The best thing to say is: I’m sorry, that sucks, I miss him too… Or do something in his memory. Make him a gift. Acknowledge that he was a person that existed and that he matters to you too.

11 thoughts on “What Not to Say When a Baby Dies

  1. Oh I understand all of this. The worst thing for us is you have Baba! Yeah we should have Baba and Rhianna that doesn’t make it better! Also being singled out at the moment we are always told first about pregnancies and births “just because they think we should” and then we get asked if we are ok? Well no because you have just made us feel like we have the plague by telling us differently to everyone else! Big hugs xxxx

  2. Anonymous

    You don’t sound crazy. You sound like you are the voice of someone brave enough to be vocal about a taboo subject. With out meaning to sound condescending – I am proud of you and so glad you are the wife of my surrogate bro.

  3. Anonymous

    So sorry for ur loss x heart breaking x night night baby Finley rip xxx

  4. Lisa, I am so sorry to hear about your story of losing Finley. I have suffered recurrent miscarriage and can relate to much what you say, it’s such a painful and distressing loss and nothing can restore the children you wanted (and carried) so dearly. It’s so hard dealing with people after, like you say, something is better than nothing at all, isolation is a killer, but on the other hand, many assumptions that people make and things they say about miscarriage and stillbirth can be very hurtful. Somehow people don’t always relate to a pregnancy or a newborn child as an irreplaceable and treasured individual whom you loved with all of your heart. I agree with you it’s so important to acknowledge that he or she was a person and do something special to honour them as you would any bereavement. I am truly sorry you lost Finley. Every child is precious. I wish you and your family all the best. One day at a time. Take care of yourself. Emily.

  5. Ugh – I always hated (and still do of course) when people tried to say something as if almost trying to justify this horrible reality that we were faced with. My least favorite was a woman who came up to me when I returned to work and said “at least you can have other kids”. . .as if that made it better (and she said it like it did, like Cale was somehow replaceable). Ugh. . . people are idiots. I’m always so thankful when someone doesn’t try to justify it or make a silver lining out of it and rather just acknowledges it for what it is – sad, horrible, heartbreaking.

  6. BIG HUGS , I know nothing I say can make u feel better ,Finley touched many Lifes and he will never be forgoten .

  7. So so very sorry for your loss RIP Angel Finley xx

  8. Thanks everyone for your comments. It honestly is so nice to hear that I am not alone in how I feel and that others have experienced the things that I have (even though I wouldn’t wish this on anybody else in the world).

    For those of you who have experienced similar comments to these – it is almost as though people are trying to justify and put a silver lining on the death, and actually, I feel it is entirely up to the parents alone to reach that point on their own (if and when they are ready).

    Lots of love to you all xxxx

  9. Romney

    Dear Finley’s mum
    I have followed your story with a bit of an ache in my heart,you have made me realise something i have never realised before, my daughter died 2 weeks after her 12th birthday, i’ve always felt sorry for myself, why her? why me? it’s not fair ect, but now i realise i had a whole 12 years with her….you had only 3 days, 3 short days to try and capture memories and moments that will have to last you a lifetime……..
    I don’t feel sorry for myself anymore, just thankful for those 12 precious years,
    my heart goes out to you for the loss of your baby, Finley will never be forgotton xxx

  10. Another one for the list: At least he didn’t really live yet.”

    Well, we do know they bloody lived and they’ll never be forgotten in our world.
    Thanks for writing this.

  11. Anonymous

    I am so sorry for your loss. I lost my daughter full term due to a true knot. Your post and what you are experiencing feels so familiar. I had a top ten list of stupid/hurtful comments. Two people in particular seemed to be jostling for first position….

    Thank you for your honesty in writing this.

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