Perhaps one of the toughest things about grieving an unborn child is that it is a lonely grief. Typically when someone in your life passes away, whether its a grandparent, parent, friend etc., there are others around you who share your grief. Difficult as any loss is, it is common to share memories and stories of loved ones- as well as share the burden of the loss. Outside of the babyloss community, it is so difficult to navigate how to grieve around others- if at all.
For me, it's been a private, lonely grief from the get-go. When we learned the news that at 21 weeks our baby's heart stopped beating, there were a few people who I called during those first few hours while in shock and tears- my parents, my sister, my best friend. When I came home from the hospital to recover, I became incredibly sick for days as my immune system was wiped out. I wanted to inform our friends and family and decided to do so in a brief email. At that point we were so heartbroken and I was very depressed. Messages of condolences poured in and we received a few cards and flowers. Eventually in the following weeks I spoke with my closest friends and family who called. But soon after our loss, our grief became quiet.
People around us did not bring up our baby, probably out of fear of making us uncomfortable. At times I brought it up, but felt awkward, and quickly stopped sharing. DH and I decided to do a private memorial for our son with just the two of us. We live out of state from our families and most of our friends, and its what felt right. At the time that we lost Baby S, we hadn't settled on a name- but had been calling him by a nickname, which we decided to make his name. That is who he was and is to us.
Of course my husb carries grief of our loss too, although he manages it much differently. We talk about our lost baby, but it's always me who brings it up. So over time, I find I bring him up to dh less and less. I began going to counseling immediately after our loss. My doctor recommended it right away, as he would with any patient, and he didn't need to convince me. I needed someone to talk to... someone who could hopefully help me ease my pain in a safe place where I could fully open up and cry.
It has been nice to have a therapist who is there to listen. Although, I noticed after the first few months, when the time came that we would start trying to conceive again, she seemed to shift the conversation away from baby loss. The focus became trying to get pregnant and is now about dealing with this pregnancy. My grief still comes up (when I bring it up), and my therapist will recognize yet only momentarily.
It's hard to share your grief, your love, your yearning for a baby that the world didn't get to meet. I know our family and friends were sad for us and for our baby, but their lives quickly moved on. Despite our best efforts to explain our experience, they will never know what it is like and they will never miss our baby like we do. And it's not their fault, but it doesn't make it any easier to deal with. I sometimes wonder if anyone thinks of our lost child as an actual person who died. Do my siblings miss their unborn nephew? Do our parents think about their grandchild who they never got to meet? I'm not sure. Certainly they have thought of us. But no one knew our child. We did. Intimately. Despite the fact that we can't share memories of his birthdays, family trips etc. So we honor him on our own. Every day. In our hearts.