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Some people said nothing; usually people I didn’t know well, such as those at our toddler’s music group. They had seen me with a bump. Now the bump was gone and yet I was never with a baby. They probably assumed I had left the baby with a nanny or relative. I let them believe it. But the longer that went on, the more I worried about someone asking.
With hindsight, at both that group and at Alex’s nursery, I wish I had emailed someone in charge and asked them to tell the other parents what had happened. All the guessing by them and counter-guessing by me could have been avoided.
There were some more hurtful moments – but thankfully they were rare. A baby announcement arrived in the post and its picture of a newborn floored me. I would never begrudge anyone else their healthy baby, but that card left me sobbing: “Why can’t I have my baby too?”
There was a dinner just weeks after Finn’s death when no one mentioned what had happened to us. I suspect our friends wanted to give us a night off from our grief, but we wondered if the message was not to talk about our son any more.
With all these situations – unanswered emails, the nursery gate, strange dinners – I felt it would always have been better to say something rather than nothing to a grieving person. Even a simple “How’s it been going?” gives the person a chance to talk – or they can respond with a “fine” or “so-so” if they would rather not.
Then again, not all things that were said to us were helpful. One reaction to Finn’s death stood out. It was from someone I didn’t know well, but whom I had promised to let know that our baby had arrived safely. I texted that I was sorry to share sad news and that Finn had died. Then came the reply that “everything happens for a reason”.
The phrase infuriated me. With all the pain and injustice in the world, how could someone believe that? It also deepened my guilt. The reason was surely something I had done, or would have done had Finn lived – I clearly wasn’t fit to be his mother.
Things just happen, no reason. Nature is wonderful and cruel
I like to think that, in different circumstances, I would have dismissed “everything happens for a reason”. But in shock and desperately wanting life to make sense, it consumed me. I made lists of possible reasons and asked anyone who would listen if they believed it.