Grief and memory still walk beside Chloe. What she wants is for her family and friends to understand how much it hurts to see others turn away from it.
On November 9, 2017, Chloe’s son, Liam, was stillborn. The Nebraska mom had gone through a high-risk pregnancy, and the loss of her child was devastating.
She created a Facebook page called A Legacy for Liam to share her story, raise awareness, and deal with the grief that accompanies the loss of a child. In her posts, Chloe offers comfort to other parents, discusses parenting, and writes about her son.
As time went by, however, Chloe noticed a trend among certain friends and family. Some of them weren’t responding to her posts about her son. So in a recent Facebook post and article for Still Standing Magazine, the mom directly addressed “the family members/friends who choose to ignore the posts I make about my sweet son.”
I miss him every day. Every second of every day. He consumes my thoughts. I know people always talk about how girls…
They may have thought that a lack of response wasn’t noticed, but Chloe noticed. And it hurt:
You know who you are; and just know that your absence in support has been noted. I have stayed silent and tried to pretend it hasn’t affected me in the least bit, but I can’t stay silent anymore.
The mom acknowledged that some people are uncomfortable dealing with emotional situations and don’t know what to say. In those cases, she understands and has a simple suggestion:
[S]imply “like” the post! It doesn’t even take a second to do this AND it let’s me know (a person you claim to have a relationship with and care about) that you saw my words, i.e. MY HEART, you heard me and my son crossed your mind today. This simple gesture makes me feel a little less alone in this and I really need that right now.
But there’s another possible explanation for why people might not be responding. Perhaps some of her friends and family think she’s indulging in her grief and seeking a spotlight.
“Maybe in your mind I’ve become addicted to the attention of it all and you don’t want to encourage that kind of behavior,” Chloe wrote. “After all, it’s been nearly a year and a half, surely things have got to be getting better and normal again.”
The mom admitted that before she’d gone through this kind of loss and pain, she’d been guilty of thinking the same way about others.
“I felt like I was feeding into it,” she wrote. “I never stopped to think that as this person was going through their everyday life, they were living life.”
Now, she knows that having to go on being a parent and spouse while grieving means constantly having to push aside your own feelings in order to keep things on track:
They were busy putting their families needs and feelings first. They were trying not to make their bad day, their children’s bad day. They were keeping schedules and appointments. They were trying to make conscious choices to enjoy this life, despite the screaming and crying going on in their hearts. They are having to put their loss and grief on the back burner to get through the day and have the ability to still smile.
Now she knows that someone posting about loss and heartbreak wasn’t wallowing in grief. It was someone taking a moment away from the pressures of life to acknowledge the sorrow they still felt:
So when they were taking a minute to post on social media about how badly they miss their loved one… Taking a minute to acknowledge their heartache… Taking a minute to feel a little less alone in missing someone; they were in fact COPING.
Chloe knows some people think it’s “tacky” to post about your loss on social media. But her concern is more about how lonely it can be when you don’t share.
“Sharing about grief reminds those who are in over their heads in it, that there is a community of us,” she wrote. “We can be in this together. It throws out a lifeline to a person who might be experiencing what seems to be a hopeless day. I am one of those people who has grabbed on to these lifelines thrown out by others. And I will never be able to thank them enough.”
Hey you. Yes, you. The family members/friends who choose to ignore the posts I make about my sweet son. You know who…
That’s why even the smallest response, even a sad face or a thumbs-up, “can go a long way.”
Chloe clarified to Dearly that she has been lucky to get a lot of support, both online and from the people close to her:
“I am so blessed. I have incredible support from majority of those in my life. They love and miss our son right along with us. This letter was written to a select few who I just simply expected more from.”
However, she wants those select few who ignored Liam on social media to know that “I’ve gotten your message loud and clear.”
While she hopes her letter will make them think about why they’ve chosen not to acknowledge her son, she isn’t stopping her posts about Liam.
“He is my family and I will never stop loving him and missing him. He’s not here, but I am SO proud of him, so I’m going to share him,” she wrote. “Please respect my choice to share my grief online and show that you love me and my son, because when you take special care to like every other post EXCEPT those about him, it feels like you are telling me to just get over it already.”
As Chloe explained to Dearly, parents dealing with the loss of a child have a difficult path to walk:
“Being a grieving parent is hard. It is so so hard. Our brains are tired, our bodies are tired, and our hearts are tired. All. The. Time. The grief is now apart of us and our stories. So if you love us, you have to love that part too.”
Yes, they understand that it can be hard to know exactly what to say. But that’s not an excuse for turning away in silence or implying that their grieving period should be over. She added:
“Our loved ones need to know it’s OK if you don’t know what to say us. But PLEASE do not pretend that you do not see our pain in hopes that we will just stop talking about it. This leaves so many that are grieving feeling unseen, unheard and most of all unloved.”
Chloe wrote that she is trying to follow the path “God is leading me down,” but the pain of losing her son is still “unbearable at times.”
Liam will never stop being part of her life and her story, and she wants her family and friends to understand that. As Chloe told Dearly:
“As parents, especially as parents who have experienced stillbirth or a death of an infant, we are the keepers of their memory. We want them to be remembered. We NEED them to be remembered. And sometimes it’s as simple as hitting the ‘Like’ button to let us know that you remember them with us.”