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Euphemism


Forum: Stillbirth

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  #1  
September 13th, 2010, 11:23 AM
Brittanie's Avatar just me
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((this is my latest blog post, but I wanted to share here too))


According to dictionary.com, a euphemism is "the substitution of a mild, indirect or vague expression for one thought to be offensive, harsh or blunt." One of the most common subjects we use euphemisms for is death. Even the example given was for death.


In that documentary on JK Rowling that I mentioned in the last post, she was talking about the fact that her father requested that she not see her mother after she died, and listening to him was one of her biggest regrets, because "the truth of a thing is easier to handle than what we substitute for the truth." I believe this to be true.

I was talking to a dear friend of mine shortly after Erin was born, about her sister that was stillborn (even stillborn is a euphemism) when she was 4 years old. Her parents talked about "losing the baby." She said that for the longest time she thought her parents had misplaced her baby sister, and she couldn't understand why they weren't looking for her.

It really made me think about the messages we send ourselves as baby loss parents. Yes, it hurts so badly to say "my baby died," but I wonder of some of the mommy-guilt felt by a mother whose baby has died stems from the subconscious message received by "I lost my baby."

But I didn't lose her. She wasn't misplaced, or dropped, or left somewhere. She died. She died, and it wasn't my fault. That's why I try not to use euphemisms. It may be harder for other people to hear, but the truth of the thing is easier for me to handle that what is substituted for the truth.
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  #2  
September 13th, 2010, 12:10 PM
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This post struck a note with me. When speaking to people familiar with my situation I often talk about Lucy's death and say things like "when she died" or "after she died". I can tell that it makes people uncomfortable to hear those words instead of using words like "passed" or "loss", but I've always been a bit more on the blunt side. I prefer to say things as they are and not sugar coat them for the sake of others.

It's rare for me to say "I lost my daughter" because it does imply that it was somehow my fault, or the fault of my body. Lucy died because she had a heart defect, not because I did anything wrong.
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  #3  
September 13th, 2010, 12:30 PM
austinmommy3's Avatar Mega Super Mommy
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I too generally refer to Makenzie's death. Despite the fact she died before either my DS or DD, they are very aware of her. I chose to tell them because she is a aprt of me and who I am. I was proud of DD a few weeks back when someone asked her how many brothers/sisters she had and she said " I have two big brothers, and I have a big sister who died so I have my very own angel watching me." Needless to say the person was taken aback and stated to me later that I shouldn't discuss such things with my children. Ummm hello her pictures are in the house just like my rainbow babies, we go to her grave often. Maybe I am too much of a realist with my children, but I think it is okay for them to know life is not always rosy and people we love do die.
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  #4  
September 13th, 2010, 02:36 PM
Brittanie's Avatar just me
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Quote:
Originally Posted by austinmommy3 View Post
but I think it is okay for them to know life is not always rosy and people we love do die.
I completely agree. I figure that they're going to experience the death of someone they love at some point. I didn't find out about my own stillborn sister until I was 11. I wish I had grown up knowing. For me AND for my mother. I think it's easier when it's talked about.

I talk to Erin about Cora, and though she doesn't understand really, she knows that Cora died and that's why she's not here. She's at that stage where she's "fascinated" with death, which I suppose people could find morbid. But I think she's just trying to understand the world around her. So I'm also not using euphemisms when our fish die.


I'd rather my children understand the truth of things initially, rather than misunderstanding and feeling like they're being lied to or betrayed some other way, and having a harder time when they really truly understand.
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  #5  
September 13th, 2010, 07:43 PM
rebeccabaltimore and more's Avatar (rebeccabaltimore)
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Actually, because Ethan died during birth, I usually say before or after he was born, at least to the people who know the situation and know he's not alive.
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  #6  
September 14th, 2010, 05:28 AM
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I say both. It just really depends. I hate that this is even entertained or part of the equation, but I get the impression that if I say "Our first son died" or "Duncan died" I'll get asked when/how old he was and when I say during late pregnancy it may not be taken as a legitimate death because he wasn't born alive. I still get the impression that to everyone else babies born quiet and still are not 'real' babies or not as great of a loss because they didn't take a breath.

This is how it plays out in my mind:

Stranger/person asking - "How many kids do you have?"

Me - Four, but our first son died.

Stranger - "Oh, I'm sorry. How old was he?"

Me - "I had him at 35 weeks."

Stranger - [probably thinking] "Well, he wasn't a real baby. It's not like you lost him after birth."

Basically, I worry that my loss, his death will be marginalized and not taken as seriously as a live born child's death. So, in a sense, I often wonder if it's misleading to say he died because that usage is often used in context of a live person's death. Also, the common terms used in pregnancy loss or earlier pregnancy loss is "lost the baby." Rarely do I hear or see one say "Our baby died" because it carries with it a certain context. "My daughter/son died" is usually taken to mean a live born baby/child in most social settings/contexts.

There have been times I said "he died," "he was dead" and ". . . birth a dead baby." (to drive home a point), but I don't say it often because I'm sure it makes many uncomfortable.

I think from now on I want to use "My son died" or "Duncan died" because he did. It's true. I know I should worry about how others think or feel.

Thanks for starting this thread, Brittanie.
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Last edited by Aeterna; September 14th, 2010 at 05:32 AM.
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  #7  
September 14th, 2010, 07:31 AM
noworries
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vespertina View Post
I say both. It just really depends. I hate that this is even entertained or part of the equation, but I get the impression that if I say "Our first son died" or "Duncan died" I'll get asked when/how old he was and when I say during late pregnancy it may not be taken as a legitimate death because he wasn't born alive. I still get the impression that to everyone else babies born quiet and still are not 'real' babies or not as great of a loss because they didn't take a breath.

This is how it plays out in my mind:

Stranger/person asking - "How many kids do you have?"

Me - Four, but our first son died.

Stranger - "Oh, I'm sorry. How old was he?"

Me - "I had him at 35 weeks."

Stranger - [probably thinking] "Well, he wasn't a real baby. It's not like you lost him after birth."

Basically, I worry that my loss, his death will be marginalized and not taken as seriously as a live born child's death. So, in a sense, I often wonder if it's misleading to say he died because that usage is often used in context of a live person's death. Also, the common terms used in pregnancy loss or earlier pregnancy loss is "lost the baby." Rarely do I hear or see one say "Our baby died" because it carries with it a certain context. "My daughter/son died" is usually taken to mean a live born baby/child in most social settings/contexts.

There have been times I said "he died," "he was dead" and ". . . birth a dead baby." (to drive home a point), but I don't say it often because I'm sure it makes many uncomfortable.

I think from now on I want to use "My son died" or "Duncan died" because he did. It's true. I know I should worry about how others think or feel.

Thanks for starting this thread, Brittanie.
I often feel the same way about how people will perceive it if I say Eli died. So, I usually say that I had another son but he didn't survive and most people don't ask additional questions after that. Or, depending on the person/how I am feeling, I will just say that I have 2 surviving children.

As for talking about it in real language with my other children, I believe I am doing them a favor. I feel the same way when I allow them to see me grieve. I know some people who think you shouldn't let your children see you be sad and cry but I think that I am teaching my children a valuable life skill by talking to them in real language and allowing them to see mt grief.
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  #8  
September 14th, 2010, 08:34 AM
Brittanie's Avatar just me
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chispaza View Post
As for talking about it in real language with my other children, I believe I am doing them a favor. I feel the same way when I allow them to see me grieve. I know some people who think you shouldn't let your children see you be sad and cry but I think that I am teaching my children a valuable life skill by talking to them in real language and allowing them to see mt grief.
I think you are. It shows them that it's okay to grieve. It's okay to feel, and you don't have to hide it from everyone.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vespertina View Post
I say both. It just really depends. I hate that this is even entertained or part of the equation, but I get the impression that if I say "Our first son died" or "Duncan died" I'll get asked when/how old he was and when I say during late pregnancy it may not be taken as a legitimate death because he wasn't born alive. I still get the impression that to everyone else babies born quiet and still are not 'real' babies or not as great of a loss because they didn't take a breath.
I do tell people Cora was stillborn. And while I do think people don't think it's "as bad" of a loss as someone whose baby has lived even a few days, it avoids the question of "how old was she" and turns it into "how far along were you?" I really try not to use the term "lost" though, because like I said, she wasn't misplaced or left somewhere.
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  #9  
September 14th, 2010, 12:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vespertina View Post
I say both. It just really depends. I hate that this is even entertained or part of the equation, but I get the impression that if I say "Our first son died" or "Duncan died" I'll get asked when/how old he was and when I say during late pregnancy it may not be taken as a legitimate death because he wasn't born alive. I still get the impression that to everyone else babies born quiet and still are not 'real' babies or not as great of a loss because they didn't take a breath.

This is how it plays out in my mind:

Stranger/person asking - "How many kids do you have?"

Me - Four, but our first son died.

Stranger - "Oh, I'm sorry. How old was he?"

Me - "I had him at 35 weeks."

Stranger - [probably thinking] "Well, he wasn't a real baby. It's not like you lost him after birth."

Basically, I worry that my loss, his death will be marginalized and not taken as seriously as a live born child's death. So, in a sense, I often wonder if it's misleading to say he died because that usage is often used in context of a live person's death. Also, the common terms used in pregnancy loss or earlier pregnancy loss is "lost the baby." Rarely do I hear or see one say "Our baby died" because it carries with it a certain context. "My daughter/son died" is usually taken to mean a live born baby/child in most social settings/contexts.

There have been times I said "he died," "he was dead" and ". . . birth a dead baby." (to drive home a point), but I don't say it often because I'm sure it makes many uncomfortable.

I think from now on I want to use "My son died" or "Duncan died" because he did. It's true. I know I should worry about how others think or feel.
I often feel the same way, that people don't think it's as bad. In fact just this weekend my SIL told me that it would have been so much worse if Lucy had lived for a few years and then died. It is what most people think. I say that Lucy died specifically for this reason...so people know that a stillborn baby is still a baby, still a human being that lived and was loved and died. She was not less of a person or less a part of my family because she died in my womb.
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  #10  
September 14th, 2010, 01:40 PM
Brittanie's Avatar just me
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It frustrates me too. I don't think I love Erin any more right now after 3 years than I did Cora when I was pregnant with her. And I don't think I'd be more devastated if Erin were to die now than I was when Cora did. But if Erin were to die right now (makes me want to cry thinking about it), I'd at least have gotten to know her. I'd have memories of her smile, and conversations with her, things that she liked, hearing her tell me she loves me. I don't have any of that with Cora, so I have nothing to comfort myself with. I don't even have many pleasant memories of my pregnancy with her.
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Last edited by Brittanie; September 14th, 2010 at 01:44 PM.
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