I met Christy Wopat last year at a writer’s conference when she spoke about writing her memoir, Almost a Mother: Love, Loss, and Finding Your People When Your Baby Dies. Now, almost a year later, and just before Mother’s Day, I finished this book. It tells about the birth and loss of Wopat’s twins, Sophie and Aiden, who were born and died shortly after she gave birth to them just after 21 weeks.
The memoir talks openly about the way our society is unable to handle the loss of babies like these. She talks about how so many called her loss a miscarriage even though both babies were born and she held them in her arms.
Much like another book I recently reviewed, Everything Happens for a Reason she recounts the many inappropriate and awful things people said to her as they find out what happened.
People said nothing, offered cliches, or even in the case of one neighbor literally ran away. One relative even said something unimaginable, telling her, “They probably would have been serial killers.”
As she processes her loss she finds there are no resources for dealing with her grief and anger. She and her husband tried a loss support group but it wasn’t a good fit. Books were either placating or too clinical. A teacher, she had the babies mid-year and decided not to return to school until the next fall and was criticized for her decision. Someone even told her to “get over it.”
It wasn’t until she went online and found others like her writing honestly on their own blogs about similar losses that she started to heal. She had started writing her own feelings down after the births but eventually began her own blog under the title Almost a Mother.
It was with these bloggers that she found her way back to a place where she was more hopeful. The bloggers she met online became her real friends and were there for her through the pregnancies and births of another daughter and son.
Many of these bloggers have gone on to give birth again and Wopat and their children have met. Wopat makes clear, there is no one way to grieve or move on. It was interesting to hear the many ways these women have dealt with their losses.
Moving on from Loss
When I listened to Wopat speak last year she was clearly not a bitter person, though the writing of that time in her life is honest and raw. She was willing to say the things she was thinking at the time. They may not always be pretty, but I believe telling her story truthfully was absolutely critical, considering all the terrible things that were said to her and to other women like her. Hopefully, we can all learn to be more empathetic to the grief and loss of those around us.
Wopat was generous with the writers in the room and encouraged us to tell our own stories. Based on the positive feedback she received,
she said people need to hear them. I have never lost a baby and I am not a mother, but I believe that this book would be helpful to those facing similar losses. I believe first-hand stories from memoirs are one of the best ways to understand our own lives.
Win a Free Signed Copy of Almost a Mother
I am giving away my signed copy of Almost a Mother: Love, Lost & Finding Your People When Your Baby Dies.
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