The mother tongue of rainbow parents

by Juliette

As I sat on the train on the way home from a study day recently (looking at the care the NHS offers rainbow parents) I reflected on the different words spoken during the day - from professionals and from parents. And I realised that there was something of a difference in the language parents used compared to that used by professionals. It's important to say here that these professionals were passionate about offering the best possible care to bereaved parents so will have wanted to use words thoughtfully and helpfully. But we had the privilege of hearing from three parents - all describing their experience of having given birth to a baby who had died and then how they had navigated the tricky path of another pregnancy - and they used different words to us.

Whilst as professionals we seemed to use words like "pain" and anxiety" or "sadness" and "loss" parents used words like "horror" and "terror" and talked of "the abyss" and the "precarious" or "perilous" journey of a pregnancy after loss. They were telling us the full reality, the power of the experience of having their precious baby die. They were asking us to hear the depth of that experience, trying to find words to communicate the trauma. As I listened I realised that I was hearing the mother tongue of parents who have lost a baby and I was profoundly humbled. It is a privilege to hear stories that are so precious, that matter more than words can ever really say. I realised too that it is probably impossible to fully understand the journey of a rainbow parent if you are not one. Even the stark words parents used seemed somehow a best attempt at trying to express something inexpressible, to describe something indescribable - to bear something in words unbearable in reality.

So I'm not sure really what to say.

I won't pretend that its possible to find exactly the right words.

But I do promise to hear you.

And I promise to  let your words, your story guide me in what I say and do.

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