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How a stranger’s words helped a grieving mother cope with her pain: NPR

In 2016, Heather and her husband were expecting their fifth child. One day, she realized that she couldn’t feel the baby moving. His unsung hero taught him the importance of recognizing someone else’s pain.


Now it’s time for “My Unsung Hero”, our series from the Hidden Brain team. “My Unsung Hero” tells the stories of people whose kindness left a lasting impression on someone else. Today’s story comes from Heather Harper. And a note: this story is about a pregnancy loss. In 2016, Heather and her husband were expecting their fifth child. It was a surprise, but they were delighted. Everything was going well until one day she realized she couldn’t feel the baby moving.

HEATHER HARPER: My doctor sent me for an ultrasound and my worst fears were confirmed when we saw our little baby on the screen with no heartbeat. I had to be induced and deliver his body. It measured nine inches long and weighed nine ounces. We named him Desmond, and two days later we had a small graveside service and burial for him. The weeks that followed were the most difficult times of our lives. Eventually, I had to force myself out of the house, and one of the first places I went was church. Many people were afraid to talk to me or look at me because I knew they didn’t know what to say. One Sunday, I was so upset that I walked out of the chapel and sat on a couch in the lobby just to be alone for a few minutes.

Soon after, a woman came out and sat on the other end of the couch. We didn’t speak to each other or even look at each other in the silence that reigned between us in the hall. And without looking at me, she said in a loud, clear voice, my baby died 35 years ago, and not a day went by that I didn’t think of her. Never let anyone tell you that you have been grieving for too long. I was too shocked and upset to speak. All I could do was nod. His words were what I needed to hear at that time in my life. I needed to know that I would never be the same and that it was okay to be that way and that I wasn’t broken, that it was okay to experience grief no matter what. how long it lasted. And most importantly, she let me know that I was not alone.


KELLY: Heather Harper lives in Newburgh, Indiana. She says her unsung hero taught her the importance of acknowledging someone else’s pain, even if you don’t know what to say. You can find more stories like this on the “My Unsung Hero” podcast. And to share your unsung hero’s story, visit myunsunghero.org for instructions on how to send a voice memo.

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