My life changed when my husband and I found out we were expecting triplets. And it didn’t take long for the comments to begin. When people found out, the usual remarks followed: Triplets?!?! What are you going to do? 3 kids at once?!? Glad it’s not me! After mastering my response (and sometimes an evil look), I figured that was the worst of it. But little did I know, I would be facing far worse comments after two of my triplets passed away.
On June 23, 2013, I gave birth to my triplets, more than 4 months premature. Within two months, two of my child died. Before then, I didn’t know much about child loss; it was uncharted territory. Like most people, I wouldn’t know how to respond or what to say if a friend’s child passed away. But more than five years later, I have found that some things are better left unsaid. These comments come from a good place and I know people mean well, but they sure do sting. Here are 5 things not to say to a grieving parent:
Everything happens for a reason
It’s a cringe-worthy comment for those of us who lost a child. Sometimes, there is no rhyme or reason why things happen in life. A parent should not outlive their child. I don’t know why my body couldn’t handle my pregnancy or why I went into labor at 22 weeks. This phrase goes along with another I often hear: “God only gives us what we can handle.” I remember talking with my childhood Rabbi the night before my son passed away and I asked her, why me? Her response is something I now live by every single day. She said, “God doesn’t give us only what we can handle. He helps us handle what we’ve been given.”
They are in a better place
So you’re telling me that having one survivor makes up for losing the other two? I like to think of myself as a positive person. But even five years later, my heart still aches for Parker and Abby. And on the most difficult, dark days of grief, it’s hard to “count my blessings.” Yes, I am blessed. I have a gorgeous miracle child who is the light of my life. But, Peyton should be playing with her brother and sister in our home, not just waving to their pictures and blowing kisses to heaven.
You are still young, you can have more children
It doesn’t matter whether our biological clock is ticking. Many people have no idea what couples go through to have a child. Some can’t have children of their own, others may face years of infertility or miscarriages. And for people like me, trying for more children may be something too scary to even think about. I came close to death after delivering my children, that’s enough to scar me for life.
I don’t know how you do it. I couldn’t imagine losing two children
Some days I don’t know how I do it either. But, we learn how to live with it. We learn a “new normal,” and in those tough moments, we celebrate that we survived the day. This comment is a difficult reminder of our grief and the children who were sent to heaven.
So, what should you say to a grieving parent? There are no words to take the pain away, but simply letting that person know you are there for them is more than enough. For me, the best thing someone can do is to talk about my angels. Say Parker and Abby by name and don’t be afraid to ask questions about them. While they were only here for a short time, they left a huge imprint on this world. I love talking about my angels, and simply hearing someone else mention them by name, is enough to wipe away the grief and warm my heart for days.
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A version of this originally appeared at Her View From Home
Sara Becker says
I would just like to say every time I read your stories they speak so much to my heart and I grieve for Parker and Abby. I might just be imagining it but I felt maybe there was some guilt you can’t help feeling when you see her playing alone and I just wanted you to know- I have a sister almost 5 years older and I went through similar things playing alone because of the difference in age and I would speak to my barbies and baby dolls and play with the dog. It gives ” great scope for imagination” as Anne of green gables would say. It could be lonely at times but friends made it all good. My mother had fertility problems and 2 miscarriages in between my sister and me (I? I’m never sure of the proper grammar haha). Anyways if she ever wants penpals or someone to book exchange with, I have 4 little boys. I just always think about Parker and Abby and Peyton when I hear about triplets and remember your story about meeting the NICU nurse that remembered them. Thank you for sharing your sweet babies with us. I will remember them here in Ontario, Canada
Meghan rush says
I came across your story a couple months ago, and it brought tears to my eyes. One year ago, I was pregnant with twins and would soon find out that I was carrying a little boy and little girl. It was my first pregnancy. Everything was fine until I was 17 weeks and 3 days pregnant. My water broke around my son, Leyton. I was admitted to the hospital and discharged the next day and told I would most likely go into labor within a few days and lose my twins. Four days later, I did go into labor and delivered my son, Leyton. He was born asleep. I never expected this to happen. I was told most likely I would lose my daughter. Thankfully, I didn’t by the grace of God and the hands of an exceptional ob/gyn. I stayed pregnant with her until I was 25 weeks and 5 days pregnant, when my water broke around her and I delivered her. I was horrified, and in my mind, had failed her as well. In my mind, I wanted to make it to 28 weeks to give her a high probability of survival and not having any lasting deficits. After 114 days in the NICU, Hailey came home with us.
She is doing so well, and I am so thankful, but every day is a reminder that Leyton is not with us. He should be with her, playing, rolling over, giggling. We just moved into a new home with a Jack and Jill bathroom between two bedrooms, and it’s a constant reminder that Leyton is not with us, as that room is completely empty. I am dreading December as it will serve as a painful reminder of what happened last year.
Thank you for your blog and continuing to shed light on infant loss.