By Clara Hinton
hen a child dies, it becomes very important for a mother to be able to validate to others that her child was real. When others help to acknowledge the life of a child, a mother's heart no longer feels so alone in grief.
Quite often, in church, at work, or in everyday conversation, the question about the number of children you have will come up. If you have lost an only child, this can especially become a very uncomfortable question. When someone asks how many children you have, and you’ve miscarried your only child, what do you say? Most mothers want to answer, “I have one child”, but they feel somewhat unaccepted when saying this. They feel they owe an explanation attached to the answer because not everybody accepts the fact that a child who is no longer with us on this earth qualifies a woman to still be called a mother. They don’t see the child as real.
If your child died as a toddler, or as an older child, what do you say when asked how many children you have? You still feel like you are a mother to the child. There is no question that your child indeed lived and was very much a part of your life. Yet, others make an attempt to discourage any talk about your son or daughter that has died because the very thought makes them very uncomfortable. It is much easier for friends and family to avoid the entire topic.
This is a very painful situation, to say the least. And, it is so deserving of our attention. Many mothers carry extra pain in their hearts because others have not given them the opportunity to include their child in everyday events and conversations.
The best means of validation that you child was real is to talk about your child to others. When asked a question such as how many children you have, always include the deceased child. Your child was real, even if your child’s heart beat for only a few moments, and it is very healing to you as the mother to make sure others understand your need to validate the life of your child.
Holidays are an especially difficult and lonely time for mothers when others overlook their deceased child. Christmas arrives and often there is no mention of the child. Easter, vacation time, and even the child’s birthday pass, and others do not say a word about the child who is now missing. This causes great pain and anguish to a mother’s already breaking heart.
It is often up to a mother to keep her child’s memory alive for others. Include your deceased child in holidays, especially in the traditional family holidays. It’s healing to buy an ornament for your child and place it on the Christmas tree. It is most appropriate when giving thanks at Thanksgiving to read a special poem in memory of your child who has passed on.
Many mothers have felt the need to invite guests to their home on the date of their child’s birthday. They find great comfort in sharing warm stories about the life of their special child.
Many mothers who have miscarried find it particularly healing to wear a special ring or bracelet in memory of their baby. This gives an opportunity to open conversation about the child.
Most mothers like to talk about their child, and they should be encouraged to do so. By sharing with others, a mother also has the opportunity to validate that her child was real. That is often the most healing aspect of all in child loss. When others help to acknowledge the life of a child, a mother’s heart no longer feels so alone in grief as she is able to keep her child’s memory alive.