I was speaking with my daughter this morning. Her husband serves in our nation’s military, so they are stationed far away from home. She is expecting a child and her delivery is not far off. When her time comes, I will travel to her home in order to be with my grandchildren and care for them while their mother delivers their new baby sister.
I look so forward to my time with them.
As we spoke this morning, my daughter revealed that a friend of ours is also expecting. I am very happy for our friend as she has an incurable disease that interferes with fertility. In keeping with social norms, she has chosen to keep her sweet announcement private.
My daughter lost her son, Mikey Joe, nearly three years ago. It was a devastating experience for her, her husband, her children, her parents, her siblings, her aunts and uncles, her grandparents, and the list continues on. My daughter, like our friend, guarded her happy announcement predicated on social norms. In fact, her announcement was not made until her pregnancy was far enough along that it could no longer be hidden. The joyful morning of her announcement, however, was short-lived and became overshadowed by a sorrowful evening of loss. Unfortunately, due to her tardy announcement, no one was prepared to support her sweet little family as her son’s precious life slipped away. None of her family or friends were aware that her son even existed until two hours before his death was announced. My daughter and her husband were in the throes of congratulations from excited loved ones and friends when horror-struck. Amid congratulatory phone calls and flowering gifts arriving at their home, they found themselves rushing to the hospital, arranging care for their children, and fighting the sorrow of losing their sweet son.
The loss of my grandson was devastating. It was filled with sadness, confusion, fear, anger, and unfortunately due to the chokehold on announcing his existence; isolation. My daughter and her husband had fallen prey to social pressure, and in the devastating reality of loss, they were suffering the consequences of unintentional abandonment by those who would have otherwise been there to support and love them through the most horrifying experience a parent ever goes through; the loss of a child.
Somehow, it has become fashionable to withhold the announcement of pregnancy as though it were something shameful, something to be hidden from others in case of failure. Indeed, the exact opposite is true. The fashion of withholding such a joyful announcement is in fact, a cruel deception perpetrated upon the naivety of unsuspecting expecting parents. It is a type of shamming through fear where no shame exists. However, in conforming to this practice, the expecting parents set themselves up for excruciating grief should the unthinkable loss of life materialize.
A grieving parent has nothing of which to be ashamed. Indeed, it is those who have tricked you into delaying your announcement, who should be ashamed. Those who have socially imposed pressure on expecting parents to withhold the glad tidings of anticipated increase do so under false pretenses. Realistically, sharing your joy through announcement is the only action at your disposal that you could have enacted to cushion the pain of loss, should it materialize.
In keeping their joyful news a secret, expecting parents rob their family and friends of all realization that life exists. This robbery blocks the participation of family and friends in the developing child’s current life through anticipation and excitement for the arrival, expectations for his or her future and accomplishments, planning of future events to account for an infant and additional family member, and preparations to homes, vehicles, etc. on his or her behalf. Due to this lack of awareness and action, if the child passes, his or her family and friends have had no indication, no knowledge, no experiences, nor any realizations of the baby’s existence. They are therefore unable to offer sound support to the surviving parents, or even comprehend the profound grief experienced and shared through loss. This leaves the parents isolated without relatable support and understanding. It is a horrifying place to be.
GRIEF BRIEF 337
The loss of your child before or after full-term makes him or her no less your child.
He or she is no less deserving of your love, your anticipation of their arrival, your dedication to their future, your loyalty to their life, or their identity as a member of your family.
Additionally, the loss of your child before or after full-term makes you no less of a parent.
Likewise, you are no less deserving of loving care, the joys of anticipation, the development of dedication, the nurturing of lifelong loyalty, the support of those who love you, respect for parental sacrifices, or your identity as a grief-stricken parent.
As do all survivors, you deserve and need the loving condolences and heartfelt sympathies from your community. (Mourning Light III, 2019)
When I was a young girl, I saw a movie called “Paint Your Wagon.” Through the course of the film, a polygamist comes into town with two wives and a baby. A burly miner respectfully approaches one of the wives, and offers $50 in gold dust, just to hold her precious infant. As a young woman, I marveled at such a gesture and wondered why a man would offer $50 in gold dust, just to hold a baby. Now that we have lost one, I understand.
Nothing on earth is more precious than the innocence and beauty of babies. They are pure innocence and instantly fill one’s soul with pure unadulterated love. Pure unadulterated love and true joy are more precious than all the gold dust the world has ever produced.
If I could, I would offer all of my fortunes so that my daughter and I could hold my precious grandson for one living moment. We would kiss him, love him, and tell him how his little precious life meant all that we have, or will ever have. With his loss, our joy was ripped from us. However, with the anticipated arrival of his new baby sister, I know that the burdens of pain and anguish that we have suffered, while remaining with us, will be somewhat easier to bear. Life goes on, and we must go on with it. We are grateful for the new joy that our little girl will bring, and we are happy for the blessings of her new life. She will be born a few weeks after the third anniversary of her brother’s death, and we, as a family, shall rejoice.
Joy is like love; sharing it, increases it; but not sharing it, decreases it. So be brave, boldly activate your joy, share it with those whom you love and who love you. What have you got to lose? Families, and even the world at large, could use a little joy right now. And here’s a caveat for you, the dividends of joy and love miraculously decrease pains of the past, present, and future. With that in mind, the world should be putting every expectant mother on TV to share her good news.
Babies are the promise of our future. Mothers are the heroes who carry, deliver and raise that future. Please consider announcing your secret and allowing it to sprout what the world is missing; hope, joy, and the promise of a brighter tomorrow. Doing this one thing will increase your joy, it will increase the joy of those with whom you share, and as joy is infectious; maybe it will overtake the woes under which the world now lives.
My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am a Certified Grief Counselor (GC-C), Funeral Director (FDIC), published author, syndicated columnist, Podcaster, and founder of the “Mikey Joe Children’s Memorial” and Heaven Sent, Corp. I write books, weekly bereavement articles, Podcasts, and Grief BRIEFs related to understanding and coping with grief. I am the American Funeral Director of the Year Runner-Up and recipient of the BBB’s Integrity Award.
It is my life’s work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.
For additional encouragement, please visit my podcast “Deadline” at https://open.spotify.com/show/7MHPy4ctu9OLvdp2JzQsAA or at https://anchor.fm/tracy874 and follow me on Instagram at “Deadline_TracyLee”.