“They look like white elephants,” she said.

“I’ve never seen one,” the man drank his beer.

“No you wouldn’t have.”

Ernest Hemingway, “Hills Like White Elephants”


In the Lifetime Movie of The Aunt Becky Story which would probably be called something like Stairway to DANGER or A Girl and Her Sausages I would take this post and explain that the reason that I take the opportunity to shed light on pregnancy and infant loss is because I myself lost a baby. Or I’m missing a brother. Or a sister. Or a cousin. Or a uncle. Or something.

But my life isn’t a Lifetime Movie, and even if it were, I wouldn’t be cast as Janeane Garofalo anyway because my hooters are too big, and really, I haven’t lost a baby. No one particularly close to me has.

I’ve known a lot of people through the years that have: neighbors, friends of my parents. One of my first funerals was for a baby and I was probably 8 or 9 and the coffin was so tiny and I remember feeling such sorrow.

Sure, astute readers will note that I had a couple of miscarriages, but they were so early that I don’t need sympathy and now that the time has marched on, I barely acknowledge them at all. I certainly didn’t mourn them when I lit my candle last night.

But when I started blogging, I fell in with the baby loss mommas and I’ve always stayed in touch with them. Maybe I feel a kindred spirit with them, not for the loss of their son or daughter but because I know how it feels to be on The Other Side looking in, I don’t know.

What I do know is this, I know how it feels to sit in a room with a gigantic white elephant sitting in the corner taking up most of the room, trampling your prized orchids and taking a shit on your favorite Swarovski figurines while people blatantly ignored it. It could hoot and holler and clang-clang-clang and people would STILL sit there and pretend that every-fucking-thing was okay.

Most people don’t know how to handle grief and they don’t know that it’s okay to not have a solution to offer. Dave’s like this and it’s one of the rare things we fight about because he cannot seem to comprehend that there are things out there that aren’t, well, solvable. AND THAT IS OKAY.

Sometimes the best thing that you can do for someone who is hurting is to say, “I’m sorry.” Because you ARE sorry.

Treating people who have lost a child or who struggle to conceive or people who have cancer or people who are hurting as though they are contagious and are better to be avoided lest you “bring up bad memories” or to “let things die down” well, that’s cowardly.

Sure, it’s easier to imagine that you’re doing your friend a favor by not calling or emailing or sending a card and pretty much leaving them hanging in the breeze because emotions are hard and they’re ugly and shit, no one wants to see the raw grief that comes with such things.

Trust me. The only favor you’re doing is for yourself.

If you want to be a friend, call. Keep calling. Send an email every time it pops in your head to do so. Talk about light stuff. Let them know you care and that you’re around when they’re ready. Be their friend.

Some day, you’re going to be one of The Others too, because that is life.

Thank you to anyone who left a kind comment or lit a candle to remember all of the lost babies and children. I know it means a lot to everyone involved. I was moved to tears each time I added another name. The list gets longer every time I do this and it breaks me up.

I’ll be back with my regularly scheduled snark soon, so don’t worry, this hasn’t turned into a blog about sad stuff or water safety or how to cross the street or how to start dating after divorce (all things I’ve been emailed by people to talk to you about)(I know)(what.the.fuck?)

Until then, I leave you with this:


How the hell did she manage to bust out of her cage? AGAIN?

99 thoughts on “The Others

  1. You are soooooooo right ~ ignoring the obvious doesn’t make anyone feel better, and pretending that someone else’s pain isn’t real doesn’t do anything but hurt them more. This goes for families with chronically-ill children, too.

    Fantastic post, Aunt Becky. Really.

    And I love your daughter & her cage. She’s beyond CUTE!

  2. Really- the hardest things are the ones most doing. You’re right- make that phone call. Go visit. Speak the words you have, even if they aren’t adequate. They’re yours. They will be okay.

  3. Your baby has a much nicer cage than mine does.

    And I know what you mean about the baby loss thing. I have never (thank God) lost a child. However, having my daughter, and knowing how much I love her just makes me ache for those who have.

  4. Picture? Cute. Caption? Hilarious.

    I’ve been on the other side too. It sucks. I fucking hate it when people tiptoe around things or just flat out ignore them.

    Losing a child is my biggest fear. It has been ever since the day that my oldest was born. I cannot even begin to imagine the horror, the ache, the grief. It is so awful that anyone ever has to experience it.

    1. People in real life were apt to gloss over everything with Amelia even after the fact. It was so weird how they’d ignore it entirely. Like, hi, you SEE that scar covering the back of her head? It happened, okay?

  5. Lol, I didn’t know they made actual baby cages. I just use clothing baskets and cardboard boxes. Good to know.

    Baby loss just breaks my heart. I am fortunate to have never had to experience that, but whenever I read the story of somebody who has, it always breaks my heart and makes me cry.

  6. Thanks for saying this, and I hope it makes it easier for people to talk about loss and grieving. I have lost two babies, and the wall of silence after the first one was so devastating that my husband and I didn’t even tell about the second.

  7. I didn’t make it by yesterday to add my daughter Quinn to the list, but want to thank you so very much for both yesterday and today’s post. Every single relationship in my life has been altered because of her birth and death – some for the better, but most for the worst . . . I have had countless people just walk away because they didn’t know what to say, and I have walked away from even more because of what they did say (which is recognize now was their attempt to be kind and helpful, but at the time felt like a kick in the face.) All I ever wanted was for them to say ‘I’m sorry’ and leave it at that. Quinn has now become the elephant in the room any time we have company . . . the little keepsakes and mementos that I have stashed around the house makes everyone uncomfortable – but I am not ready to put them in a box and pretend that she never existed. I don’t think I ever will be.

    Anyway, thank you.

    (And LOVE the picture! If only it were considered PC to put little ones in cages . . . you know, just for a minute or two.)

  8. Beautiful post… you have a way with words.

    Your daughter gets more and more gorgeous in every pic you post… and WHERE OH WHERE did those eyelashes come from? I’m jealous!

  9. great posts yesterday and today. i’ve been known to say, “I don’t know what to say, but I am thinking about you and am sorry,” to grieving people. It feels better than nothing.

  10. othersider here too (cancer)…u’re right – don’t ignore it or act like we can’t talk about it cause it might make me cry…seriously, i’m not that weak!

    ur memorial especially touched me cause my brother (whose wife just lost a pregnancy in the beginning of the year) is pregnant again! life will go on! ;0)

  11. The only thing that has made me cry more than your post yesterday was the ‘Peter’s Story’ video that has been floating around facebook, under the Stop Child Abuse/Neglect cause. It is gut-wrenching.

    Thank you for the timely earth-grounding post, to keep things in perspective.

  12. Sometimes, say if you’re me, you find the most awful, obnoxious, and completely wrong thing to say to a grieving person and then you say it. So, if you’re me, it’s better to keep your mouth shut. But it’s not better to withdraw, just to be quiet.

    It doesn’t look like Amelia’s escaping the cage, it looks like she’s setting a trap. I’d be careful…

  13. So many people don’t know how to handle grief and say nothing. It’s sad. It killed me when a year after my friend lost her son at 36 weeks, I was the only one other than her mom who recognized his existence.

  14. Yes! Thank you for this post as well as yesterdays. It’s amazing how some folks act like nothing happened as a way to make it all O.K. Even worse is the old, “you can always have another one” No, you can not. I am well beyond having children that fit into cages (gah! I wish I could still cage the 21 year old)but I have a close friend who recently lost a baby. It was a miscarriage in the first trimester and I was shocked to hear how many people told her she would “get over it”. She wanted that child so much, I can’t imagine anyone else deciding how much pain she should feel or for how long.

  15. Just wanted to say, that as an othersider (widow at 51), that presence is way more important than words. These kinds of experiences show who your friends are. I always want to laugh (now, before it hurt like hell) when people who run into me at work ask, “how are you?” as though I were an escaped mental patient. Almost two years later, I see that they were afraid to deal with an emotional person and that their inablility to be there had less to do with me and more to do with them.

    My heart breaks for those who’ve lost children. I know that is much worse than my own grief, which is still considerable.

    Thank you for your thoughtful post today. And thanks too for the fun picture. Now I’m smiling through tears.

  16. Thank goodness there’s something comfy for her to lie upon at the bottom of the cage! It’s a tell-tale sign when they have those lines on their butts.

    Thank you for yesterday’s and today’s posts. You’re an amazing woman, Becks. ((((hugs)))

  17. As a single 20-something who enjoys the mommybloggers more than the single 20-somethings, I totally understand what you mean. If something’s important to you, or sounds a chord in your soul, you need to post about it.

    Or maybe not even post about it, but take a moment, and think about it in that insightful part of your heart reserved for such things.


    That is all.

  18. All I know is that little angel of yours has the cutest cheeks and most adorable eye lashes…she’ll never need mascara.

    And yes, feelings suck. But it is great when something terrible is going on and a friend calls to say hello. Or sends a REAL e-mail (not forwarded crap) just to check in and see how things are going, because sometimes, it’s better to talk about things.

  19. It makes me so angry when people say that they don’t go to viewings or funerals because it makes them uncomfortable. It’s not supposed to be fun. Be an adult, suck it up, and do what you’re supposed to do. I am blessed to have never lost a child (other than early miscarriages), but my father was murdered, and the silence from some people was deafening. When I ran into them later, they mostly said they didn’t know what to say.
    On a more positive note, your daughter is beautiful. Love the cage. Thanks for sharing.

  20. My sister lost her oldest son to cancer last year. Her grief is not respected by most. She is supposed to “get over it”, “move on”.

    Whatever the fuck that means.

    People want others to store their grief away from view, so it does not disturb their feelings, theif comfort. At least all but the most supportive friends, I have found.

    The silent avoidance that is expected makes her feel worse than if someone just asked how she was.

  21. Awesome post. Very well said, and very, very appreciated 🙂 Thank you.

    And your daughter is gorgeous, and I’m jealous you have a cage! Must put one on my wishlist…

  22. Thanks Aunt Becky. Great posts – made me cry for all those othersiders no matter what the situation is.

    I have had a friend lose 2 babies in about 12 mths – it was hard for both of us Im sure, but i made sure I talked about it to her . she is now into her second trimester and things are looking really really good !

    Do the cages come in 2 year old size? 🙂

  23. A crib is really just a cage that is up on legs. (Ignore the no bars on the top part.)

    She is getting so big! And cuter with every picture!

  24. Now all Amelia needs is a baby sized gerbil ball.

    I think the only good that has come out of Alice’s medical struggles is that I’ve learned what to say to people who are grieving. Before she was born I was an avoider. I don’t always say the right thing, but at least now I say something. (and I avoid talking about the people with no! arms! or! legs!)

    1. @Katy My gut reaction to handling emotional situations is to make a joke. Sometimes, it eases the tension, other times, it’s COMPLETELY inappropriate.

      First thing they taught us in nursing school was to shut our mouth when the patient was talking. OR WHEN THEY WEREN’T. If you’re filling in the space with your chatter, people aren’t going to open up.

      It’s great advice.

  25. Thank you for the beautiful thoughts, Aunt Becky. And for the reminder that grief doesn’t just go away. My mom’s friend just passed away in August and I guess I’ve sort of forgotten about her family, after her long illness and eventual passing and services. I’m going to send them a note to remind them that she and they are in my thoughts. It’s easier to grieve when you’re not doing it all alone.

  26. Sometimes the ‘ugly’ truth said outloud, is better than the quiet ignoring of that ugly effing elephant. Thanks for putting it so perfectly.
    You’re a good egg:)
    And I have found zip ties work really well for keeping those little buggers in their ummm, cages, wait, I mean forts.

  27. You write some really beautiful stuff, yo. I wanted to say I totally get what you are saying.

    I avoided talking to my Mama for a while because I thought (foolish me!) that she had had enough of hearing the rest of us cry. Turns out, she needs to hear that we are still sad about my Dad and that people (obviously not his kids) haven’t forgotten about him. That made me sad for her all over again, that she thinks people will ever forget him.

    1. @Becca I think that the common misconception is that people assume that by bringing up the deceased or illness, you’re reopening the wound, which, they never forget that stuff. Ever.

      But it’s hard to handle emotion as well, on our end, too.

  28. I’ve never been good with grief- my mother has an almost phobia about anything to do with death or any kind of loss, and she really drummed the “look-the-other-way” mentality into me as a kid.

    But all of that changed for me when our daughter was born seriously ill- I was so confused and heartbroken, if anyone asked me what they could do I couldn’t tell them. I had NO idea what would make me feel better. And it was the people who just turned up (and stayed), brought candy, called every day, made me cry- the people who did the things I would never have done myself- who changed everything and helped me get through it. I’m never going to shy away from grief again- the difference one person can make is huge.

    1. @Claire The people who sent emails, called, sent stuff to the hospital, showed up for the surgery or came to visit, those are the people I will never forget. Like you, I’ll never shy away from grief because it makes ME uncomfortable because that’s a cop-out.


      Very well said.

  29. Our candle was lit last night.

    Mimi is getting so big! I love the little wrist rolls! I have so many pictures of Mea in our dog’s kennel, someone could turn us in. She loved playing in there, she was always being a doggie.

  30. In a cemetary, in North Dallas, in a Section call “Babyland V” (which, yes, means there is a I-IV) is buried a tiny white velvet casket that contains the remains of my first son. His loss was very complicated and is a much longer story than what is called for here. However, as I was reading your post (as happens so very often when I read your writing) a vivid memory played back in my mind. For weeks after we buried my son I just couldn’t fucking get over the fact that the world was continuing to turn. I couldn’t believe that people were continuing to live their lives – going to the grocery store, the movies, taking their kids to school, all the munitia that non-grieving people occupy themselves with. It wasn’t that I begrudged the world for moving on, I just didn’t understand how it was POSSIBLE that I was not moving along with them. I passed a cemetary everyday on my way home from work and of course, that was hard. One day, I was stopped at a red light, looking at the cemetary, the light turned green and I didn’t see it. The man in the car behind me laid his hand down on the horn. The next thing I knew I was standing outside of the car and walking toward his car. I think he was expecting me to say my car was stalled or something to that effect. When he rolled down his window I just looked at him and said, “Don’t you realize my baby is dead? You should really get some manners.” I wasn’t really angry with him… as you so eloquently described above, I was angry with the people in my life that should have been calling and checking on me. September 2nd was my first son’s 14th birthday. No one, not one person in my life, even my husband spoke of it this year. Too bad not speaking of it doesn’t make it not so.

    This post is yet another reason I heart you so big. You get it… and I love that.


    PS Do you know where I can get a cage that a 12 and 9 year old will fit in?

    1. @Kristi I’m so sorry about your first son. My heart breaks that there has to be a Babyland V and that your son has been laid to rest there. I’m glad I wasn’t in the car with you that day. I probably would have beaten the guy senseless.

      I’m sorry no one remembered his birthday. I can’t imagine that anyone forgot, but I don’t imagine that anyone knows what TO say. Does “Happy Birthday” really fit? I think it does, but I can see how other people would shy away from that.

      My heart hurts. I’m sorry. Shit. Damn allergies acting up again.

      Can I add his name here so that when I pay tribute again, we can remember him too?

  31. One of my good friends had a stillbirth at 5 months. I hugged her, I went to the funeral, I cried and brought her meals. But I was pregnant at the same time and spent so much time worrying that I would upset her that I’m afraid I didn’t do enough to be there and comfort her. We’re still friends and our relationship is good, but somehow I don’t think I would’ve regretted going all out. Lesson learned, the hard way.

  32. OMG! She’s so big! When did that happen? AAAAAAAHH – make it stop, make it stop!

    I never know what to say either. But I figure being there if if I don’t say anything is better than disappearing.

  33. Well said, love! I rarely talk about my miscarriages, as well. As much as it sucked, I can’t IMAGINE what “The Other” pain is. I’ve been one of The Others before when my mom died (not the same, I know) you’re right. Be a friend! Send a text, send an email, ANYTHING, but do something. I swear it helps to know that there are people out there. Thank you for posting this. I thought about a lot of my bloggy friends and all the babies that were taken too soon.

  34. It’s a man thing, wanting to fix things. They just don’t know what to do when there isn’t something to do, ya know? Women understand that sometimes you just need to be heard is all.

    I dunno. That baby is about as pretty as mine . . . and that’s saying something! (She’s delicious, you girl!)

    1. @The Expatresse You’re right. The wanting to fix everything is totally a dude thing and it drives me bonkers sometimes. Not everything is fixable, right?

      And Mimi says “thank you.” Well, really, she just kinda drooled and tried to pull herself up on the chair. But she looked grateful.

  35. It’s a man thing, wanting to fix things. They just don’t know what to do when there isn’t something to do, ya know? Women understand that sometimes you just need to be heard is all.

    I dunno. That baby is about as pretty as mine . . . and that’s saying something! (She’s delicious, your girl!)

  36. Dude….get a Masterlock. They can’t pick that.

    And I do have friends (I know…whodda thunk??) that have lost like that (thankfully, only 2) and I tell them: I’m here. Call me to cry, laugh inappropriately if that’s what you need to do, or curse at God, but I’m here on the other end of the phone.

  37. I’ve had 4 miscarriages and while I don’t mind talking about them so much now, at the time, the last thing I wanted was pity or sympathy. I didn’t want to hear I’m sorry. I just wanted to grieve and move on. So there’s always that side of it, too, that sometimes you have to think about.

    1. @C Absolutely. I am 100% with you on this. When I had my miscarriages, I was sad and then I was done being sad after a couple of weeks. Mine were early and then I was done. But that’s an excellent point to bring up.

  38. I may be emotionally retarded with feelings and shit and not know what to say, but when bad things happen to people in my life, I’ll come over and cook, clean, take the kids to the zoo or whatever. I’m also the one who brings a bag of weed to those who have cancer and are going through chemo.

    I’m not afraid to be around sadness, probably because I was around lots of it growing up. Sometimes people want to talk about it straight up, and sometimes they just want you to get them a glass of wine and stare at the TV with them, make them laugh or feel up their reconstructed breasts and tell them that they feel great.

    Yes, I’ve done that with two of my friends that had mastectomies. Don’t worry, I asked for permission before I went in for the grab. After we laughed our asses off, they thanked me.

    Oh, and next time put the door to her cage up against a wall 😉

  39. My seven year old’s dad died in Afghanistan when he was two. I was left alone as a single mother and had to cancel the life plans. I think humor and friends helped me through that. I also think that going through that kind of grief helped to make me stronger and taught me better cuss words to use.

    Life goes on and it is nice to have people be real with you. This was great advice.

    And here I thought I was the only one caged my child. I can’t believe you let that dirty little family secret out!


  40. Holy comments!

    This was an excellent post. Thank you for writing it. No, I’ve never lost a baby but I’ve been part of The Others when we were trying for so long to get pregnant. It was a brutal place to be.


  41. Has she started to hide food in the chubba rolls yet? It’s worse when it happens at lunch and has time to ripen before bath time, or so I’ve been told.

  42. When my newphew was about 3 we were crate training our puppy and he kept wanting to get in the crate, he even wanted to take a nap there, I didn’t let him, I thought my brother would so not like that.

    Thanks for writing this. Although I have never experianced infant loss i know people who have and I try just to be there for them, but I always feel like I am not doing enough.

  43. My youngest daughter was a twin. We lost the other baby early on during the pregnancy. We chose to name her Faith because it is a miracle she is here. Life is fragile. Thanks for being great at what you do, it makes this fragile life we lead seem easier and stronger:)
    Much Love & Respect Tawnia

  44. Like you my m/cs were too early really to mark by candles and I do feel like a grief fake when I think of all those who have lost babies so much more here than mine were. Those people have taught me a lot about how to deal better and try and help with grief, loss and illness in better ways than i did before.

  45. I could not picture my life without my son. If anything ever happened to him, I would just lose it.

    I am glad you touched on the point that as friends we need to stay in contact with our friends who have had a loss. My best friend recently lost a cat and while a cat is a family pet to a lot of people, to her, it was her baby. She was so depressed and torn apart. I didn’t know what to do, so I stayed away. When I thought I had given her enough time to mourn the loss I tried contacting her and she was upset with me. Little did I know that all she wanted was someone to sit next to her and hold her. I was so afraid of not being able to comfort her or saying the wrong thing to her, I stayed away. It almost cost me her friendship. So yes, friends need to be there consistently and just “BE THERE.”

  46. That is so true. People are so uncomfortable with the idea of tragedy possibly happening to them that they dart back into their denial and disappear from the scene. Or they think that if you cry in their presence (referred to as “breaking down”), that somehow they’ve made it worse, when just the opposite is usually true.

    No matter how often I’ve tried to explain it to people, they keep on doing what they do. It’s just too scary to face until you have to, I guess, which is why it’s preferable to have one of The Others with you, because they won’t run away from it. Those who haven’t been through something could be good too, and a few are, but first you have to be able to face what happened.

    1. @Dot It’s really unfortunate that many people can’t handle grief or pain because it really does hurt to lose someone you love and care about when you’re in the thick of something awful. I wish I had some annoying platitude about it, but you know as well as I do that it just simply hurts. And I’m sorry.

  47. I want to say thank you and I have some repenting to do.
    I have been one of those who didn’t know what to do or say. My younger childrens father passed away this summer (we had been divorced for over 10 years) and while I was not saddened by the loss, I have been amazed at how few people even expressed condolences to them. No flowers sent, no cards….My younger kids range from 13-18 in age, and while they were not close to their dad and have told me over and over that they don’t miss him I wonder how to help or if help is really needed, so I just keep asking.
    My friend just lost twin grandbabies (her first!)to a medical fluke, I have some phoneing to do. Thank you, and my oldest daughter thinks your awesome (she sent me this link) her blog site is “Tact is for people who aren’t witty enough to be sarcastic”
    Thanks again

  48. Dammit. I was totally looking forward to hearing your advice on water safety. I got an offer to write about cleaning products. I KNOW!

    Also, I have almost the same picture of Nate and the dog crate, only he’s hanging out inside it. The dog may or may not be in it with him. That’s OK, right?

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