I work with an enormous group of people and there’s always someone around who doesn’t know much about what me and Sacha, so I have to fill them in.

When you tell someone that your baby died, one of three things happens.

1. It Sinks In And They’re Supportive
They say “I’m so sorry.” Or “Wow, I just don’t know what to say,” “That’s so unfair,” “The universe just doesn’t make any sense.” Those are all awesome and perfect things to say. Or they give a sympathetic look and a little hug, which is good too. We should all try to be in this group whenever possible, for anyone going through any sort of tragedy. I know that I don’t always make it to this group, myself!

2. It Sinks In And They Shut Down
They shut down and stare ahead saying nothing or run away. Truly, people turn and jog out of the room. That doesn’t feel great. It used to make me feel like I shouldn’t have shared at all. But often it’s necessary to talk about it, so I simply have to trust that other adults will be able to cope with whatever difficult feelings my story brings up.

3. It Doesn’t Sink In And Things Get Absurd
They’re caught off-guard, deflect what I’m telling them, and say something completely absurd… People are just resistant to bad news – even very kind and highly educated people. They skim over the pain, offer up rationalizations, say strange things.

I know that many people tend to hover in Group 2 because, while they’d like to be in Group 1, they’re afraid of falling to Group 3. But the truth is, if my words have sunk in to the extent that you’re concerned about my feelings in that moment, you’re already way ahead of the game. This is how low the bar is:

“I’m on a different schedule because I had a baby, but he died in the NICU.”
“Oh, my son spent time in the NICU!”

“I’m having a hard time because so many people have had babies in the past year, and it’s a constant topic of conversation. I had a baby, too. But mine is the only one that died.”
“Wow, well, at least only yours died. I mean at least none of the others did. I mean, I guess not for you, but…”