In a society where it is still stigmatized to talk about stillbirth, families are often left to navigate grief on their own. We yearn for others to talk with and hope that our baby’s memory isn’t forgotten. We’re grateful for when other mothers share their journeys, like how Christina Perri has discussed coping with the stillbirth of her daughter.
There are few experiences more devastating than stillbirth (defined as pregnancy loss after 20 weeks.) The moment a parent hears the words “we can’t find a heartbeat,” their family is forever changed. In that moment all of the future hugs, gurgles, T-ball games and family vacations disappear. What appears in the place of possibility is loneliness.
On the long and impossibly dark nights after my son Fox’s stillbirth, I sat awake seeking solace in Instagram accounts, Twitter feeds and books on grief.
Sometimes, I found profound stillbirth quotes in unexpected places, like the show Doctor Who. Like other loss moms, I’ve looked to Taylor Swift’s words in her song “Bigger Than the Whole Sky.”
Finding quotes on stillbirth and grief
I compiled a collection of stillbirth quotes that could comfort and keep a grieving family company during the lifetime of nights after. Through my experience, I learned even babies that do not breathe air can leave a lasting legacy. There are hundreds of foundations, websites, support groups, Instagram accounts, Facebook groups that honor all of our stillborn babies.
Here are some books, poems and song lyrics that were meaningful to me:
- “Still” by Stephanie Cole
Cole recounts the painful stillbirth of her daughter, Madeline. She gives herself permission to grieve openly and honestly. Her book is a reminder that it isn’t our fault that our baby died. We cradled them every second of their lives. All they knew was warmth and love.
- “No Cure for Being Human” by Kate Bowler
Bowler does not write about stillbirth specifically, though she is the master of articulating how incurable grief is. A stillbirth family doesn’t just survive the death of a baby. They survive the hundred little deaths after–the death of future possibilities, the death of relationships that no longer hold up, the death of innocence, faith, and so much more.
- “Unable Are the Loved to Die (809)” by Emily Dickinson
In moments of fear, I grounded myself in the poetry of Emily Dickinson. We want our babies to be remembered. We want our friends and family to say their names. We know that we will love our lost babies until we die, but the thought of others forgetting is devastating. Our stillborn babies are granted immortality through our love.
- “[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]” by e.e. cummings
Not only is this poem a testament to lasting love, it is also physiologically true. The fetal cells from babies have been found in the mother for months, sometimes even decades after a baby is born. These cells have been seen to even help heal damaged organs. We really are carrying parts of our stillborn babies within us.
- “Traveling with Grief” by Erica Zaldivar
Zaldivar is a writer and therapist who focuses her page on sharing truths about trauma, love and grief after losing her daughter, Verity. Her words show that our grief isn’t negativity (though it does trigger people!), but rather a truly tragic event happened that changed the course of our lives. And it’s OK not to be OK.
Quotes on stillbirth for loss moms
“Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give but cannot. All that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.”
— Jamie Anderson on Dr. Who
“I held you every second of your life.”
— Stephanie Paige Cole in “Still“
“There is no foot too small that it cannot leave an imprint on this world.”
“Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye
You were bigger than the whole sky
You were more than just a short time
And I’ve got a lot to pine about
I’ve got a lot to live without
I’m never gonna meet
what could’ve been, would’ve been.”
— Taylor Swift in “Bigger Than the Whole Sky”
“Everybody pretends that you only die once. But that’s not true. You can die to a thousand possible futures in the course of a single, stupid life.”
―Kate Bowler in “No Cure for Being Human“
“I know you mean well but please stop wishing me healing and accept that I will never heal from the death of my child. This doesn’t mean I’m being negative and doesn’t need to be pathologized. Some things simply can’t be unbroken, and it’s ok to be honest about that.”
—Erica Zaldivar on “Traveling with Grief“
A note from Motherly: Quotes on stillbirth
Though grief is an unfair burden that time does not in fact heal, it is also an overwhelming feeling of love without a home, spilling out wherever it can go. Stillbirth grief has no expiration date, no remedy. It’s with us for life, and so is love for our baby. Please know other loss moms are with you.