My Daughter Died Of SIDS, And This Popular Meme Shook Me To My Core

by Caila Smith
Originally Published: 
VERBAL VOMIT/Katie Thorpe/Facebook

Trigger warning: child loss

I try not to make my daughter’s life all about her death. There was so much good that came from her being alive for four months and two days, that I’d hate for her brief existence to become all about the tragic day she unexpectedly died.

It’s not easy either. I have to work incredibly hard to put those awful images, memories, and flashbacks to rest.

Performing CPR for the first time on my own lifeless baby. Firemen I know, and police officers and EMTs that I don’t, rushing her into an ambulance when rain was pouring down. The words, “There’s no sinus rhythm,” being uttered from the back of the vehicle while I try making out what that exactly means. Shock. The deepest and emptiest sadness. Time standing incredibly still. Vomiting in the backyard. Her tiny coffin. Punching holes in walls and screaming until I had no voice and my throat was raw. “She’s dead” sometimes still rings in my head on repeat. Over and over and over.

It takes mental training, emotional strength, and a lot of determination for me not to get bogged down by these taunting flashbacks I experienced and can still visually see today.

So when I’m scrolling through Facebook at 8:00 a.m. and I run across this off-color meme before I’ve even just begun my day, I’m brought back in the most gruesome way.

To some, it’s “just a meme.” But to me and so many other SIDS, SUIDS and SUDC parents, it’s what played out moments before we were met with the worst day of our life. It’s the day our child died, the rest of the world moved on, and we were left to grieve.

This meme is our living nightmare being blasted in the form of a cartoon with thousands of “haha” reactions, and “this is sooooo me LOL” comments below.


Every fiber in my being cringes, for they do not know what they do not understand.

It’s heartbreaking that other parents can laugh at something like this, though I understand its ability to resonate. After all, every parent has natural fears about their infant’s health while they are asleep, but I don’t understand the humor.

Is it more of a “Ha. I’ve been there, and now I feel irrational for always thinking such morbid thoughts” type of funny?

Because if that’s the case, your humor has run dry. It’s not irrational to have those fears. SIDS/SUIDS (Sudden Unexplained Infant Death Syndrome) is very real, and it snatches infants every single day. So my two cents is this: you should check on your sleeping infant. And when your most awful thoughts are relieved by deep baby breaths, maybe take into consideration the ones who were not so lucky that day. Maybe you don’t share a triggering meme that makes light of children falling asleep and never waking up. And maybe you don’t laugh at it just because it’s never happened to you.

Death does not discriminate; SIDS does not discriminate. It could’ve been anyone’s child who died from SIDS, but I was the unlucky one. It’s the most unfair chapter of my life’s story, and I never thought it would happen to my child…. but it did.

Some of the commenters made it clear that they related to this meme because they know how real SIDS is, and that’s what makes them check on their infant while sleeping all the time. Most of them then went on to say “but it’s not offensive.”


How can you say that you can’t imagine our loss, but in the same breath, feel so entitled to determine what’s offensive to us and what’s not?

You can’t, and you’re fighting a losing battle by trying.

Yes — you know how real SIDS is. But you do not know the hell of losing a child to SIDS. The two are incomparable. We are not in the same boat.

Katie Thorpe, a mother who lost her 22-month-old son Mason to a category of SUDC (Sudden Unexpected Death in Children), was one among many mothers commenting on this particular meme to boldly claim, “As a mother [whose] child died in their sleep, this is the worst possible thing to post.”


This isn’t parents being overly sensitive over something as silly as a meme. It’s a huge trigger for some parents, and it’s making them relive traumatic events.

“That meme brought back the images of doing CPR on [Mason’s] lifeless body and to read/see that people thought it was funny made me furious,” Thorpe tells Scary Mommy. “They don’t understand the nightmare I live in every day because my son died unexpectedly.”

What these people fail to realize is that, for us, there is a whole missing piece to this meme. The part where we woke up to check on our baby and our worst fears became our most brutal reality.

And to make matters worst, we have the most inconsiderate scum on the face of this earth to thank for these comments.


Really, just really? What a worthless excuse for a human being.


To answer the question asked in the comment above… yes, we do relate to this post more than you could ever possibly imagine. It’s too close to home, and that is exactly what makes it is so excruciatingly painful for us.

We aren’t asking the world to censor itself, but rather, gain a little compassion. Because if you’re not told, how will you ever know?


Thoughts of a baby being dead are now “light” jokes? Hmmm, that’s news to me. And then this woman who I’d hate to have as a mother.


But I would also hate to have this one for a father.


UM, SIR? Were YOU in the room watching when it happened? No.

Let me try putting it into a more relatable perspective. Pregnancy loss is common, among 20% of first-trimester pregnancies end in miscarriage. With that being said, when have you ever seen a meme with a concerned mother thinking, “I haven’t felt my baby kick,” and then a brain next to it saying, “Maybe the baby is dead?”

Never. You’ve never seen a meme like that. Because while I think all expecting mothers have morbid thoughts and fears about a potential miscarriage, it’s too close to home for everyone on social media. It would be cruel to those who have experienced a miscarriage. But because nobody wants to believe SIDS could happen to their family, some people don’t think twice about sharing this meme.

You see, to those who have never woken up to their child laying lifeless, this might be “just a meme.”

But for hurting parents grieving the loss of a child who passed away while they were sleeping, it’s our life with a missing picture at the bottom. The part where we had those horrendous thoughts of death, and we weren’t met with instant relief when checking on our dearly loved baby.

My baby was and will always be dead.

Those words are real, and they hit me — to this day — like a thousand flaming arrows at once. Be kind, you have no idea what some parents relive every single day.

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