Recently I got into it with a commenter on a grieving mother's blog*. The commenter was of the opinion that in order to get pregnant again quickly (the expressed wish of the bereaved mother), the mother should be full of light and happily awaiting the arrival of that next baby, since, see if you can follow this without your head exploding, there is a belief that a baby selects his/her parents, i.e. the baby's soul looks for and finds his/her future mother and father, and she (the commenter) would not choose to go to a sad mother. Still here? But want to smash something? Go ahead, I'll wait. Feel better now? Ok, moving on.
Not wanting to jump down somebody's throat in another person's house, I at first inquired politely as to whether she really said what it appeared she said. I got an unabashed confirmation that yes, while the mother can be sad for herself and the dead baby (and isn't that a generous allowance? don't we all feel better knowing we are permitted that much?), she should be full of light, etc. for the baby to come. So because I didn't think that calling the commenter an ignorant twerp from the la-la land was going to be particularly productive, I then proceeded to explain, in a very respectful tone, that (a) telling people how to grieve was wrong; (b) you can't split yourself in half; (c) if there exists a bereaved mother who was able to pull off the subsequent pregnancy without anxiety and complicated feelings about carrying her next child while she should be raising her dead one, I don't know a one among the many I do know; and (d) such advice does nothing but set up the grieving mother for self-blame if by chance her next pregnancy is not swiftly forthcoming.
The response I got back was, impressively, both patronizing and insulting. Not bad for two lines and one smiley face. I am currently undecided as to what to do next. A wise friend is advising me to let it go, to let that response stick out there like a sore thumb. However, walking away from a fight is not exactly my strong suit (what, you couldn't tell?), so I am still thinking.
What got me upset enough to write this, though, is a somewhat unrelated thought. We all know about the stupid things people say that, when inverted as logic dictates, place blame for things going badly squarely on our shoulders. Oh, you should think good thoughts. Oh, you should stay positive. Oh, don't let it get to you. Oh, you so deserve this one. Oh, you should be full of light and happily awaiting the arrival of the new baby. Right.
The thing about the comment that started this spat, though, the one about the babies choosing their own parents, is that it places the blame on the babies. See, if you believe this you don't have to feel bad about crack babies-- they chose their own drug-addicted mothers. You don't have to feel bad about the children who are abused-- they chose their own abusive parents. You don't have to feel bad about babies who contract HIV at birth-- they chose their own HIV-positive mother. You don't have to feel bad about children without health insurance-- they chose their own poor parents. And if you don't have to feel bad about it, you don't have to do anything about it either. Insidious shit, isn't it?
*Don't look for it-- it's protected and in the Old Country language