When Headlines Hurt

There is a headline dominating the news and social media today. A newborn baby boy abandoned by his mother. Left alone in a drain for days on end. Agains all odds, surviving. As the mother of a baby boy in heaven, my reaction to these kinds of stories is visceral – my feelings over-take any rational reaction.

My first thought is a selfish one. How did this little baby survive? How did he spend days in a drain, in the heat without help and love and milk and yet my little boy could not survive something as ordinary as a nap? Why are some chosen to live, against all the odds, and other to die, against all the odds? In moments of acceptance and peace, I understand that each of us is given a life frame in which to live. Some are short. Some are long. We each live our lives within that span. The little boy who lived has more living to do. Xavier had a different path to travel. But it is difficult to believe. It is difficult to understand. And it is far removed from fair.

And those thoughts lead into the next: Why was that little boy saved when his mother abandoned him? How did that little child, with no mother holding his hand and begging him to survive, make it? Why was that mother blessed with a child when so many are not? So many that desperately yearn with all their being to be mothers. Families that would embrace and love and protect their children above all else. Why are they denied the gift of children? And yet it is given to someone who treats it so carelessly. I do not know the circumstances of the mother who left her baby to die in a drain. I do not know what demons plague her or what the state of her mental health is. I do not know what would possess anyone to act as she had. But I do know so many who would treasure the gift of a living child, if only it were offered to them. Perhaps this mother who acted so horrifically deserves sympathy and understanding. I find it hard to give.

A little while ago another headline caught my attention. A baby had died by SIDS, whilst sharing the bed with parents who had smoked and drunk alcohol. SIDS deaths do not often get reported in the news. Still births do not generally garner media attention. The singular heart breaking tragedy of child loss is not enough to make news. There needs to be another element to the heart-ache. A scandal or celebrity. Unsafe behaviour or something that flies in the face of all reason – like leaving a child in a drain. And so the face of child loss in the media is generally marred. There is often at least the hint of blame, which is carried like a banner by those who comment and share the article. The commentators scale their lofty heights and pass judgement about things they know little about. In the case of the baby that died by SIDS, the fact that the cause of death was deemed SIDS indicates that the baby had an underlying abnormality. The parents did not follow the safe sleeping guidelines, and perhaps the child may have lived if they did. It is entirely possible that the child would still have succumbed to SIDS if they had. This is the mystery and tragedy of SIDS. But because it was reported in the context of the parent’s being at fault, it gives the false impression that it can be avoided entirely. This reporting of child loss allows people to place distance between their experience and the things that might happen to them and the horror of losing a child. There is an inaccurate comfort granted. And those that have lost a child know it is a lie – losing your child can happen to anyone.

I hope the little boy that lived is okay. I hope that he finds a loving family who will en-circle him with love. I hope that the angels continue to be kinder to him than they were to my son.

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2 thoughts on “When Headlines Hurt

  1. Headlines involving children have always affected me deeply, but even more so since Xavier taught me just how fragile life can be. I just can’t fathom the darkness in that woman’s heart that could allow her to do that to any child, much less her own beautiful newborn. Even if she wasn’t capable of loving and caring for him, she still had options.

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