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Challenge: Open Discussion

Dear Abby: Your advice about grief is not helpful and it hurts

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Oh, Abby.

I saw your column today – the one where you gave advice to Crystal in Nevada. She wrote to you asking how to cope with her aunt who had a stillbirth 20 years ago. Crystal wanted to know how to talk to this aunt who lives such a "morbid lifestyle." To encourage her to move on from a "baby that never lived."

Instead of encouraging Crystal to approach her aunt with grace and compassion, you validated her misguided views on grief.

You called her aunt’s desire to celebrate her child’s birthday sad. You assumed that her aunt had not sought any kind of counseling. Perhaps, you think counseling cures a person’s heartache for their child?

Oh, Abby.


Do you know how many families read your column today who have also experienced the loss of a child?

I can’t speak for every one of them, but I know many were hurt and even angry at the way you were so quick to judge the heartbreak of a grieving mother. I know the heaviness in my own heart as I read your response.

Twenty years is not too long to miss your baby.

Crystal needed your support today, but instead you provided an echo chamber. Here was an opportunity to educate–to let others know that there is no one way to grieve. You could have shared that there is no timeline when it comes to grief. You could have used your influential platform to help those normalizing the grief experience. Instead, you decided to continue the very harmful narrative that grief is about moving on.

Oh, Abby.

How I wish you had taken this opportunity to lift up those families who are grieving and acknowledged that grief is one of the strongest acts of love.

I wish you had commended any grieving parent who has managed another day on this earth without their child. We are living lives without the ones we love and we are doing the best we can. Sometimes that means putting up with families that don’t know how to support us and sometimes it’s about avoiding advice columns that offer their misguided views on grief.

Signed, A Grieving Parent

Originally published on An Unexpected Family Outing

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