When Words Hurt
By: Amy Lied
While scrolling on Facebook over the weekend, I saw a post from Still Standing sharing one of the articles I had previously written.
Even though I probably shouldn’t, I always read the comments on any of my articles. This one had a large number of comments which intrigued me. Upon reading through, I realized why.
“This is an absolutely horrible experience but does NOT need to be on social media. Sickening.”
This comment was the culprit and caused a myriad of responses from people chastising the writer for her words while expressing their support of grieving online.
Reading through the rest of the responses there was a follow up from the originator.
“I am not nasty but what did mothers do before the advent of social media? I lost 2 babies way before social media. When my husband died, the last thing I would have thought was to take a picture of him on his death bed and post it. That is just me and everyone has a right to their opinion.”
This was the first I have ever seen a comment like this in regard to something I had written. I’ve seen other comments where the reader misconstrues my words, which is frustrating, but I never respond because it will likely fall on deaf ears. However, in this instance, I responded.
“I am very sorry for your losses. Everyone is allowed to grieve differently, as you stated in another comment. It’s very easy to keep scrolling and avoid posting a comment that attempts to shame someone for sharing the aftermath of an experience they had no control over. While you feel that it is something that doesn’t need to be shared publicly, I respectfully disagree. As the author of this article, my son, and our experience with him is valid and worthy of sharing, just as my living daughters are. We have built a beautiful legacy in Asher’s name, and I will never hide him.”
My response was very civil, given the fact the woman used the word “sickening” in reference to my child and my experience. However, I feel the need to write a more lengthy response. Thus, I have written the following open letter.
To the woman who used the word “sickening” in reference to my life:
First, let me say, that I am truly sorry for the loss of your two children and your husband. I am very sorry that you know this pain and are a part of the club that no one wants to be a member. Life can be so very cruel.
Because you know the pain of losing a child, I am baffled by your disgust and callous use of the word “sickening” in regards to another bereaved mother sharing her truth.
My only guess is that you lost your children during a time when you were told that you don’t talk about such things. A time where many mothers never even got to hold their child after they were born. If that is the case, I am truly sorry that was your experience. I am sorry that you were made to feel like you couldn’t share your children with others, that their all too brief lives were too painful and, to quote you, “sickening” to be shared openly with others.
However, simply because that was YOUR experience doesn’t mean that you need to perpetuate it for others.
After others started to call you out on your horrific choice of words, you mentioned that “everyone has a right to their opinion”, which is certainly true. However, if you have a problem with the way someone is openly sharing, you can simply scroll past it, move on instead of commenting in an attempt to shame someone for grieving differently.
Nothing about sharing my beautiful son or our grief over the loss of him is “sickening”.
What is sickening, is the fact that we have to live the rest of our lives without him.
What is sickening, is the fact that people like you attempt to shame parents for openly talking about their deeply loved and missed children.
Thankfully, it seems that people like you are the minority.
Times are changing.
Hospitals are encouraging parents to take photos with their children, as mine did when I wasn’t sure that I wanted any. How grateful I am for them now, despite your opinion otherwise.
There are devices that allow families to have more time in the hospital with their deceased children.
There are thousands of non-profit organizations designed to honor babies while supporting parents through their grief journeys. Parents are no longer packing up the memoires of their deceased children into a box and placing them on a closet shelf, never to be openly discussed ever again.
I am proud that my son is still very present in my life, despite his physical absence. Sharing the very limited photos we have of him helps to remind me (and others) that he existed. He was here, if only briefly. My husband and I have helped other loss families feel less alone simply by sharing our story. We have created an amazing legacy in our son’s memory, and we will continue to nurture it.
Nothing about any of that is “sickening.”
Frankly, the only thing sickening here is your choice of words and your need to share them.
Wishing you all the best (and the ability to pause before posting such comments),
A fellow loss mama
About Amy Lied
Amy Lied is a wife and a mother. Her son, Asher, was inexplicably born still on February 19th, 2017. Before losing Asher, she suffered a miscarriage and struggled with unexplained infertility. After losing Asher and struggling to conceive again, she went back to treatment where she became pregnant with her twin daughters; Harper and Scarlett.
She has documented her journey from the beginning of her infertility struggles on her blog, Doggie Bags Not Diaper Bags. She is also a co-founder of The Lucky Anchor Project, an online resource for loss families that houses an Etsy store whose profits are donated to loss family non-profit organizations. Sharing her journey has helped her cope and she hopes it also helps others who are walking on this road of life after loss.
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