To the Woman Who Called Me “Cruel” for Smiling While I Held My Dying Baby

child death

Whether it be through miscarriage, stillbirth, or child loss later in life, the pain of losing a child is one that runs deep. Unless you’ve experienced it yourself, it’s hard to fathom just how catastrophic child death can be for parents who lost their baby too soon.

The years may pass, but the sting of the pain — that emptiness— it remains.

Stacey Skrysak is one mama who knows that all too well. After losing her firstborn triplet at 22 weeks gestation, Stacey and her husband were absolutely devastated.

This picture is all that remains of her sweet daughter…


“It may have been 5 years ago, but the memory of this fateful day will always be fresh in my mind,” Stacey wrote in a Facebook post.

But as she scrolled through her Instagram after sharing the picture, one comment, in particular, stabbed her STRAIGHT in the heart.

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“I don’t understand how she can smile. It’s cruel!” wrote one senseless commenter. 

Stacey couldn’t help but write a message to that woman that has now been read by thousands across the Internet. It’s sure to reorient your perspective on what a smile can mean AND just how little we have the right to judge the way people grieve.

Read Stacey’s powerful Facebook post below, and remember, sometimes it’s okay to smile through the tears:

“This picture. It’s all I have of my daughter who died. No videos, no precious pictures of her tiny feet or even a picture with her triplet siblings. Nope. This is all I have. I’m used to the criticism that comes with my career in television, but this one comment hurt me to the core. And as a parent of child loss, I feel the need to speak up in support of every parent who has lost a child, whether through miscarriage, stillbirth or child loss.

‘I don’t understand how she can smile. It’s cruel!’

It’s a comment that stuck out like a sore thumb while I scrolled through Instagram. As I reread the comment, I stopped in my tracks, as if I had been kicked in the gut. Yes, I am smiling in this picture. Yes, my child is alive in this picture. Yes, my child was about to die in my arms.

As I stared at this picture, the tears fell quickly. It may have been 5 years ago, but the memory of this fateful day will always be fresh in my mind. After going into labor at 22 weeks gestation, my firstborn triplet arrived in the wee hours of the morning. I hadn’t showered in days, my husband hadn’t slept as he wore a stained In-N-Out shirt, and we were just told that our daughter would not survive.

In the pain and chaos of that morning, we didn’t think to take any videos. The shock of our impending loss took over and we spent our time looking at our sweet girl as we sobbed at our reality. We were first-time parents and our firstborn couldn’t be saved. We snapped a few pictures and the doctor eventually called her time of death.

As I think back to that comment, my heart physically aches. Sure, I know this woman knows nothing about my family and I doubt that she’s ever experienced the unimaginable loss of a child. And that’s what makes me cringe. This woman has no right to tell me how I should grieve or what I should or shouldn’t be doing when my child is born.

When I look at this picture, I see so much love. I see a husband, a wife and a beautiful baby.

To the woman who called me cruel for smiling, my heart goes out to you. I hope you never have to endure the loss of a child. Yes, I was smiling, but I wouldn’t want it any other way. These few pictures are the tangible memories that will last a lifetime. And as I look back at this picture, I smile through the tears. My daughter felt comfort and love during her short time on earth…and as a parent, that’s what I’m proud of the most.”

Kelsey Straeter
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Kelsey is an editor at Outreach. She’s passionate about fear fighting, freedom writing, and the pursuit of excellence in the name of crucifying perfectionism. Glitter is her favorite color, 2nd only to pink, and 3rd only to pink glitter.