Sunday, May 9, 2010


I opened my e-mail and this is what I read, from someone who had received a mailing from my group, in opposition to the words lost and loss, which he counted were used 5 times in the piece:

Loss or lost are such terribly misleading words to use at such a time of grief and pain. Dreams are not lost when a baby dies - parents can dream for other children and have other hopes and dreams for future children.
I feel and believe (and know many others also who feel and believe the same) that continued use of the word loss implies an error the parents have made, or an implication that the child who has died, no matter what the gestational age, is not a real person, with feelings and thoughts, but merely a growth or a group of cells. Loss takes away the dignity and humanity of the child who has died and reduces the pregnancy to something medical and technical instead of human.
In this era of unfettered abortion and a throwaway society, why relegate children to an uncaring abyss?
An uncaring abyss?
An uncaring abyss?
All this hard work, all these hours, all these tears shed, only to have someone feel that I am relegating children to an uncaring abyss.

Furthermore, I disagree heartily that dreams cannot be lost. I believe I lost a dream or two along the way.
I do think there are better words than lost, but how to encompass all of the deaths, from conception through infancy, and all the ways it can happen, in one word? I, myself, am lost.
Tell me how you feel about this word. I agree that it is misleading, because our babies can't be found. But while I don't love the word, I feel as if it's become a pretty commonly used, and acceptable word in this community. I did check Websters, and there is a definition that applies.
But this is more about what we feel. Please respond. Are you offended?


Hope's Mama said...

I use it all the time. I lost her. I am babylost. We lost our daughter. I suffered pregnancy lost. I have lost hopes and dream. I feel lost.
I am not offended at all.
Sure, it can be a bit clumsy and it does certainly soften things because saying dead, died, death while despite factually true, can be harsh (I just posted on this subject myself) but it is a term I use, I like to use and will continue to use.

Hope's Mama said...

Uh, pregnancy loss that is.

Sara said...

I don't have a problem with loss or lost.

I am offended by the writer's first sentence. Surely dreams are lost when a baby dies. Yes, I dreamed of other children; yes, I have dreams for Kathleen, but my dreams for Henry are lost. My dreams of holding my baby, my first baby, my Henry, my dreams of watching him grow are gone.

I do believe that words are powerful, but I disagree with this writer on all counts about the use of loss and lost. I honestly don't understand how the terms suggests parental error or takes away dignity. Lose, loss, lost have a very common meaning related to death (not to mention that loss and lost are used frequently in the "babylost" community). These words also speak of deprivation. A parent is deprived of the chance to nurture their child, live with them, see them grow; the child (at whatever gestational age) is deprived of life. I am not aware of any connotations of these words that make a death less human.

Even if the reader doesn't like your word choice, I find it impossible that something you wrote, if taken in its full context, relegates children to an uncaring abyss.

angie said...

I disagree completely with that email write. I lost so much when my daughter died. I lost my safety, my daughter in my life, my dreams, a future imagined, friends, comfortability around certain people, the idea of my family, words to explain my grief...I use lost always. Mainly because I feel so lost. That is how I read the pjrase babylost--i am lost without my baby. Ugh, that email is so frustrating and unkind. People really do focus on the weirdest stuff. It is so hurtful when it is for good. Sending you love. It made me angry on your behalf to read that. XO

Lara said...

I am kind of ambivalent but I always stumble on the word lost because of my Mom. Years before she died-at the young age of 65 she said "why do people say they lost their wife or their husband. It is as if they went to the supermarket with them and lost them wondering the isle. It is so strange-they did not loose them they died" So I always hesitate-laugh at the idea of two old people wondering the market and loosing each other. Hmmmm Symantics. Words get loaded with grief-like the simple, Hi, How are you? That's a doosey for a long time after your baby dies.

Heather said...

I'm not offended by lost either. Use it all the time.

I also disagree with the author's statement that dreams are not lost. We all lost our dreams for that baby; they are not replaced with dreams for new children.

erica said...

I'm at peace with the term loss, and to echo what others have said, I lost the dreams I had for my beautiful, particular, much-loved child who died. Having a living child doesn't change that for me.

I use the term babylost to describe myself because it seems to refer both to me and to my child. I'm lost, too. The person I was is lost.

To try to give the emailer as much benefit of the doubt as possible, I guess when I do run into trouble with the terms "loss" and "lost" it's because some people use them as ways to avoid the terms "dead" and "died," but (ironically enough)I don't see that much in the babylost community.

Ya Chun said...

why not just say died? too harsh?

Charlotte's Mama said...

Yes! Why not just say died, but when I say my group is for "Pregnancy and Infant Loss" this becomes tricky. I can say, infant death, but then I add miscarriage, and blighted ovum, and medical termination, and you get my drift. There are so many ways that babies fail to make it into their mothers and fathers arms, and it's clumsy and close to impossible to find a word to describe them all... unless you say Pregnancy Loss, which is all I know so far. Is there another way to say this? If there is, I am open to it.

Velvet Sweatpants said...

To me, lost implies the subject in question will be found. I lost two pregnancies and I do, and do not, know where they went. One got flushed down the toilet and the other got surgically removed and thrown out with the medical waste. How harsh to say about my babies (or were they just my pregnancies?)

So, if I will not find them, as in reclaim them - ever - then they are not lost. So what are they?

I just don't know about all this. I've just accepted the common vernacular and said 'lost' and, while it doesn't offend me, it certainly makes me think there has to be something better than 'lost' or 'dead'.

But if you can't wrap your head around it, how can you wrap words around it?