So you’ve had a friend that has experienced child loss. What now? Can you help? Yes, and here’s how.
First, take the time to register the news yourself:
- Are you feeling any pain?
- What are your thoughts?
I know when I hear of anyone passing away, I break down in tears. Case in point – I’d never met Carrie Fisher, but boy, did I bawl like a baby when I heard she passed.
We have to take care of ourselves before we try to help others, or fill their cups.
Next, that pain you may or may not feel? Keep in mind, that pain has been amplified to the utmost infinite degree for your friend who experienced a pregnancy, infant, or child loss. That pain will forever be ingrained in their minds and be physically a part of their soul for the rest of their lives.
It’s a club we don’t want to be a part of, but we are forced to live in it forever.
So, how can you help?
- If you are super eager and Type-A that loves projects, pause.
- If you are empathetic or feel any kind of emotion at hearing the news, pause.
- Everyone else? Pause. Oftentimes, we are super eager to help when we hear that someone’s loved one passed away. We immediately cook a meal or send a card which is great, but it’s the time period after the initial shock of death that matters more than anything else.
When I lost my daughter, I received probably 10 different floral and plant arrangements. All were very beautiful and I was so grateful to have received them, but I got so overwhelmed at the amount of immediate love and help.
All of the flowers and plants died. I couldn’t physically bring myself to take care of them as I should. When the initial shock wore off, I had to tell my friends that flowers and meals didn’t help.
Here are some tangible steps you can take to help if you hear someone has experienced child loss:
- Send a card. I had an incredible support system that would send me cards monthly within the first year of my daughter’s passing. I never responded to them, but something about receiving a letter brought me so much joy and I greatly appreciated it.
- Make a donation to a charity in their child’s honor. There are a TON of nonprofits that work to help parents of a lost child. My favorites include: Lullaby of Hope, You made me Mom, and Detroit Share just to name a few.
- Remember their baby’s anniversary and reach out then. Flowers, cooked meals, and even cards are great on the baby’s passing anniversary MONTHS after. Not sure what they like to eat? Gift cards to a local restaurant are amazing. See if you can do their grocery shopping. Send them a text. They may not respond. Please know that they are grateful if they stay silent.
- If their baby has a name, say their name. What many people don’t realize is that with child loss comes birth in some way, shape, or form. I still gave birth and wore diapers during postpartum. I have heard stories of women bleeding for months after their miscarriage. My point in that is, our children may not be alive, but they are alive to us. It’s uncomfortable to do that, sure. But if you would tell stories of your grandfather that passed away, you can talk about someone’s child that passed away.
- Recommend Mental Health Resources. There are so many support groups, counselors, and even therapists specifically for child loss grief that it can get overwhelming. Do the research for some local options for your friend to go to and even look at online options. Look at grief books to send. I really lucked out and found a therapist who worked in a Labor and Delivery Unit, specialized in trauma, and took my insurance. Raising some money for parents to go to therapy is also an amazing gift.
- Be patient. Please continue to love us and reach out to us, but please be patient. We are forever changed by this loss and we don’t know what we are doing half the time. I remember being lucky to remember to take a shower some days. We might be completely different people after loss, but don’t give up on us. It’s a long journey ahead.
Keep in mind, parents that who have experienced loss will probably ignore you or not initially take your advice or help, but please still try.
The pain we experience is sometimes so hard that we can’t communicate what we feel or think effectively.
From all parents of this horrible group, thank you for not giving up on us. And thank you for loving us.