My son, Ian, was stillborn 9/11/97. Ever since then I feel as though I've been "labeled." In fact, at times I get the sense that there is a label attached right to my forehead. The label says,
"Woman Who Lost her Baby."
"The Whisper Game"
I remember being in a restaurant several months ago when I ran into someone who works where I do. She politely said hello and then turned to her friend, whispered something in the friends ear, and then her friend turned around and looked at me. You should have seen the expression on her friends face! I swear she was looking right at the label on my forehead!
Seriously, I'm sure the friend was feeling a bit sad, however I felt like I was back in grade school again playing "the whisper game." This feeling of wearing a label still hangs over me every day.
A co-worker of mine who recently lost a child to cancer acknowledged the same feeling. In fact, we were taking a brief walk during our lunchtime and I sarcastically said, "I feel like I have a label on my head that says 'Woman Who Lost a Baby'." My friend immediately responded, "YES, I have a label too!"
My son, Ian, taught me something valuable that relates to this whole label thing.
At work the other day I caught myself describing someone in a conversation. I think this is a habit we all have. Perhaps you're talking to someone else who isn't quite sure what person you're describing. You might say something like, "Oh, you know, Bill, tall, a little stocky, curly red hair?" The other person might respond, "Oh yeah, the guy with red hair, I know exactly who you mean now."
So, what does this mean? I tend to think that when others describe ME now to other people who don't know me might say, "Oh you know JoAnn, petite, short dark hair, the one who LOST HER BABY!" I'm sure it's been said. I'm sure it's been said many times.
How absurd that we describe people this way.
It makes me angry. I hope I never get caught doing that because I don't like it when I hear people do it to me.
In October 1998 one of our group member's mentioned that she felt she had a note on her forehead that declared her loss, and it didn't feel good...
We all share similar feelings and reactions even though our losses are unique to each of us
I decided that the writings that JoAnn has shared since September 1997 needed to be brought together because they reflect so many of the heartfelt responses and feelings that I have seen in our group, and experienced myself, as we move through our grief after losing our baby. I feel as though others will know that they are very normal in their progression through grief as they identify with JoAnn and her husband, Perry.
The site has reinforced many statements I have made through the years about "normal" reactions to loss.
One reason the written word has always been powerful is because others can read and reread what they themselves have felt and not been able to "put into words."
I believe that JoAnn has done this very well. I have included some of my comments that JoAnn says reassured her that she was "normal" and that she was experiencing what I have seen others go through. Books often refer to conditions...these are real live reactions and words!
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