Support > Please Say Her Name

By Nina Bennett
Author of Forgotten Tears

My granddaughter’s name is Maddy. After a healthy full term pregnancy and normal labor, with no warning whatsoever, she slid still from her mother’s womb. Many people are hesitant to mention her name, mistakenly believing that to do so would make her death more painful. In actuality, what makes it more painful is the reluctance of people to acknowledge her. Sometimes people refer to her as “the baby”. I know they mean no harm. I realize that our society does not do a good job of dealing with death, especially the death of a baby. I saw the mother of my son’s closest friend in the grocery store several months after Maddy’s death. She apologized for not calling my son, saying she didn’t want to remind him, that she was worried she would make things worse. Did she really think he needed a phone call to remind him of his daughter? Could she truly believe that a day goes by that we don’t think of Maddy? And the only way she could possibly make things worse is by not talking about Maddy, which in essence discounts that she ever existed.

When I talk about Maddy, people call it dwelling, and they assign a negative meaning to the word. Nobody would consider it dwelling if Maddy was alive and I were to babble about her red eyebrows or talk on and on about her first steps. Acquaintances would lovingly shake their heads and patiently listen to my story. They would tease me about the great love affair between grandmother and granddaughter. They would gladly look at her picture. They would be gracious when I start to repeat myself, rather than change the subject. They would accept without question my desire to stay connected to my granddaughter. They would never say to each other after I leave the room, “When is she going to get over it and move on?”

There is a simple one word answer to that question. Never. I will never get over Maddy. She is as much a part of me as my son, her father. To move on, to get over her, is in essence to deny her existence. And denial of her is denial of me, for I am her grandmother. Every bereaved parent and grandparent I have spoken with has said that their greatest fear is that their child will be forgotten. For nine months Maddy brought us joy. She filled my life with excitement, dreams and plans. Although my heart is broken, my love for her is not diminished. I will never know the pure bliss of her hand in mine as we go for walks. Instead, I will carry her in my heart. Rather than lighting candles on her birthday cakes over the years, I will place a memorial candle on my mantle. There are so very many things I want to do with my granddaughter, but getting over her is not on that list.

On November 12 2003 my son and daughter-in-law had a beautiful baby girl. She weighed 8 pounds 13 ounces and was 20 1/2 inches long. My granddaughter’s name is Maddy. Please don’t forget her. Please don’t be afraid to talk about her. Please say her name.

About the Author

Nina is the author of Forgotten Tears: A Grandmother's Journey Through Grief,
ISBN 1-59113-764-0, available at

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