Why we need to change our grief vocabulary – part III

Why we need to change our grief vocabulary – part III

Welcome to the third and last post of my mini series about grief vocabulary.

Part I and II were about what needs to be part of our grief vocabulary and what kind of attitude to pick when trying to comfort the grieving (https://karinholmes.com/we-need-to-change-our-grief-vocabulary-part-i/. and https://karinholmes.com/why-we-need-to-change-our-grief-vocabulary-part-ii/).


This last part is about how we can use more empowering language to help us create a safe space to grieve.

I’ve noticed recently that our language is quite defensive when we try or are forced to explain our losses. We mumble, avert our eyes and just hope people won’t say anything too hurtful.

We are cautious because experience has taught us that kindness and sympathy are often not at the forefront of people’s minds.


It’s a hard road to travel. We are in such a vulnerable state after our loss with so many raw and confusing emotions, that words in general fail us.

It doesn’t help that we are often met with these hated ‘at least’ phrases and a condescending pat on the back. This results in us being left speechless and helpless and we retreat into silence.

That is very understandable. But it doesn’t have to be this way.


We as the grieving have to take the power back. That might sound a bit intimidating or scary but it is not. We make our story and our loss about ourselves. We don’t play to society’s rules. We make up our own rules.

Part of that means that we pick our own language when we talk about our precious babies. Don’t worry if people might be upset or uncomfortable. Your baby just died and the world needs to know about it.

You pick the words to tell your story. If you want to say ‘my baby died’ then say it. If you want to say it often then do it.


If people try to tell you to get over it, answer them ‘No’. We won’t get over it. We will learn to manage life without our babies and we decide how we do that and what kind of words we use.

If you want to let people know that a loss like our sucks then say that. Throw a swear word in there if it makes you feel better.

Remember – this is your story and you tell it in your words. It is your task now to remember and honour your baby and don’t let anyone tell you how you will do it. It is our right to own and shape our story.

Let’s start today.




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