Readers respond to articles about working for a bankrupt company and coping with the death of an infant.

By Salon Staff

Published September 3, 2002 7:00PM (EDT)

[Read "The Essential Worker's Lament," by Matt Bergantino.]

This is great stuff. I spent some time in sales myself, and in a company that went bust (though not both at once, thankfully). I know just how Matt feels, and I'm glad he took the time to write about it. I can never get enough of disaster stories from failing companies. I'll be eagerly awaiting Matt Bergantino's novel when it is published.

-- Jim Kasprzak

[Read "Embracing Death," by Susanna Stromberg.]

I want to thank you for running Susanna Stromberg's article on grieving the loss of a baby. Too often, as Stromberg mentions in her essay, the world is unwilling to acknowledge the death of a baby. I know this because my own son was stillborn in March 2001. There have been many people who have made it clear that they would rather not know he existed.

That silence has been painful to me as I grieve, but thankfully I had the chance to hold my son when he was born, so I know he was real even if much of the world would prefer to forget him. Being asked if I would want to hold him was one of the most confusing moments of my life, but it was important that I was given that option.

It is important that parents in the midst of this tragedy continue to be given this choice, and the time and support to make their own decisions about it.

-- Toni K. Thayer

I would like to correct some unintentional misinformation that appeared in "Embracing Death." The definition of "stillbirth" is a fetus, 20 weeks or more, born dead. The fact that Susanna Stromberg gave birth to a live baby who went on to live for one month means that she experienced her child's neonatal death. Although I agree that the emotions and social aftermath are still the same, I take issue with the definition for one simple reason: She received a birth certificate. The 26,000 women annually who do experience the pain of true stillbirth also go on to be denied a birth certificate in 45 of 50 states. All I have to prove that my daughter who was born still at 37-1/2 weeks ever existed is her cremation record.

Still No More is the only national organization fighting for the legal right of mothers of stillborns to have a birth certificate, and for research into the cause of stillbirth. SADS, sudden antenatal death syndrome, is ten times more likely to occur than SIDS; yet the March of Dimes, the NIH, and even ACOG refuse to study any possible causes or prevention.

Please, in order to understand the pain of our losses -- those of us who are denied a birth certificate and the opportunity to even see our babies' eyes open -- you need to understand the terminology and laws that distinguish us.

-- Denise Osborne

Stromberg goes to a party, ambushes a complete stranger with a depressing, morbid and far too personal bit of gore, thrust abruptly into a "nice weather we're having" sort of conversation and the other woman is the rude one simply because she doesn't want to spend her evening discussing a stranger's reproductive life? Stromberg seems too self absorbed to live, in my opinion. This is a traumatic event, and I could understand bringing it up with acquaintances, honestly with a request for sympathy. But why would she assume that a total stranger has an obligation to be her therapist for the night? Springing a topic like this on an unsuspecting victim is the truly rude behavior.

-- Emily Hartsay

Thank you so much for publishing an article that has the possibility to touch so many women that may find themselves in the heartbreaking moment of holding their dying child. My child was born premature and only lived just over an hour. He was perfectly formed, and I would have always wondered what he looked like if I had not had the support of the hospital workers encouraging me and my husband to hold him. We dressed him, cuddled him, and looked at him as much as we could because we knew he wouldn't be coming home with us. I agree with Susanna that this is part of the healing process.

-- Stefani Kurko

I appreciate everyone's right to grieve in their own way. But I am offended by the author's assertion that the rest of the world should have to shoulder her grief as their own burden. Not everyone is able to handle this kind of emotional responsibility. And if the person is a complete stranger, why would you want to ask them? Grieving is a difficult process for everyone. There are no rules.

-- Andee Steinman

Susanna Stromberg's article provided an insightful and touching glimpse into one of society's last social taboos -- publicly dealing with the death of a loved one. Just because death occurs before a baby's first breath doesn't cancel out that child's existence. The opportunity to say goodbye, to hold, kiss, love and stroke a baby for just a short time, gives parents a few cherished memories that unfortunately must be enough to last a lifetime.

-- Laura McDonald

Salon Staff

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