I can’t count how many times my jaw dropped as I read the scores of comments and stories that flowed in over the weekend in reaction to Friday’s post, 10 Things Not To Say To The Parents of Preemies. A few times, I said “incredible” out loud, with an expletive between the “in” and the “credible.”
I also learned a great deal. For example, if a friend were pregnant with twins and one died, I’m not sure it would occur to me to say “At least you still have one,” but now I know that would definitely be the wrong comment. And I think one one of the briefest comments was also one of the most useful:
4 words, and then keep your mouth shut: “Your baby is beautiful.”
The flip side: Two reports of nurses who joked that babies looked like E.T. Wrong, wrong, wrong. They need to be sent for re-education.
Several commenters suggested that preemie parents should cut some slack for the people who say the wrong things; they’re trying, they just don’t know how to navigate the emotional minefield. And they can’t truly understand the level of stress that preemie parents are experiencing.
But that’s the point of the post, and of the Inspire report it describes: It’s hard to know what to say, so here’s some guidance. Writes Inspire Preemie Board member Leo Richards:
People don’t understand what to say, thus, they still feel the need to say SOMETHING. It is the same with infant death or miscarriage, people need to be educated on what is OKAY to say. These are not bad people, they are just not confronted with this situation on a regular basis.
For more specific guidance, read through the comments beneath Friday’s post, here. You may want to hold your jaw closed as you do.