Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Do you want to help someone who has lost a baby/child?

I thought I would come up with a list of sugestions as this is a common question/concern

Early Days

Send a card (one of the sweetest cards I received said congratulations on the birth of your baby, sorry she couldn't stay), I have kept every single one I received and look over them often as it is solid concrete evidence that yes, she did exist. Dont worry if you think it has been too long before you managed to get around to it, it is nice to still receive a card a month or even two after the birth.

If you bought a gift for the baby before she was born I would suggest still giving it to the family as, again, they are something tangible that can be held and added to the memory box.

If you can cook then definitely cook a meal that can be frozen for the family in a disposable container. Frozen meals are a godsend in the weeks following. Maybe a lasagne or soup?

Rather than always asking the father how his wife is going, check with him that he is ok too. The focus always seems to be on the mama's but the papa's are suffering too!

Send a message or email or letter to let them know you are thinking of them. It is quite nice to also add that you aren't expecting a reply unless they would like to talk, it takes a bit of the pressure off you know?

Dont put any pressure or expectations on the family for a while as it can add a lot of extra stress. Social situations are so difficult for reasons you will never understand unless you have been through it too. At the same time though still invite the parents out or catch up the same as you always would just dont take it personally if they say no (or cancel) more than once.

Chocolate biscuits are good too!

Some of the best support I have received has been the gentle, quiet but consistent support on the sidelines. I have a few friends that regularly send supportive sms's or emails, dont expect anything in return but just letting me know they are there, they casually let me know and invite us to any gatherings but truly, honestly have no expectations and dont hold any grudges.

Six months plus

Understand that special events (birthdays, christmas etc.) are usually hard and a stark reminder that their baby is missing. Let the parents know that you understand this. If it is appropriate and you feel comfortable doing so maybe find a small way to include the babies memory like a candle burning or another cute thing a friend of mine did was having a lolly bag for the baby (although admittedly I ate the Lindt chocolate block, you know because that is what Lola would have wanted ; ), I did put the little clip in Lola's memory box though).

When mentioning the baby use her/his name, the same way you would if the baby was still here. Even though the baby has died mama's (and papa's) like to talk about their babies just as much as if they were here and hearing their name spoken is nice. (although if the parent changes the subject quickly go with that, maybe it is a hard day)

Chocolate cake is good! It cures many ails!!

Maybe send a card on a significant anniversary or at a time you know is tough.

If the mama or papa cries let them feel like that is ok, dont make them feel bad about being sad and crying. Dont take their crying personally, you didn't make them cry (unless you said something hideous but if you are reading this I am sure you wouldn't have done that), they are crying because their baby died.

Ask the parents how things are going and be interested in the answer.

If the parents have gone out and are having a good time and are smiling and laughing let that be ok too. It's ok to have good time sometimes right?

Understand that it takes a really long time to heal from the trauma of losing a baby/child. Be patient with the parents. Love them.

Again, I cant emphasise enough, to not put pressure on the parents to be up to socialising. Grieving is really exhausting, it takes up most of the brain space and what is left over is mostly taken up by getting through day to day. When you do see them keep in mind that they will quite possibly be very vague and maybe sigh a lot,
please dont take this personally, it really isn't because of you, their baby died remember.

Finally, Oh my goodness, you must be a super duper special friend if you managed to read all the way to the end of that huge list!!! It is an awful lot isn't it! I know there are wonderful friends and family out there who want to know these things though, I know because lots of them have asked for a list of tips just like this! I think it is worth sticking by the babyloss parents through this tough time though because when they get to a place of peace and acceptance they will be an extra generous, life loving, thankful friend!

(If you are a babyloss parent and would like to add anything to this list then feel free to email me)

Do you know how I can add a link to this post over there to the right? I thought it might be useful to have a direct link rather than having to search for it!


Jenn said...

Thanks sweetie xoxo

sofrenchysochic said...

Thank you so much, this is really important info.

I hope you're well. As tough as all the months have been, this must be an extra hard time to get through.

Thinking of you


Jesse V said...

this is a great list of how to help those who have lost special people.

The only thing I would add (if I may be so presumptuous - feel free to delete me!) is that the sentiment "let me know if I can help" isn't always so helpful. Sometimes we need others to take control and take the initiative to help us, without us having to reach out and articulate our need. Pride and dignity gets in the way, no matter how strong our need for help.

Grieving is so incredibly exhausting and time-consuming, it's something that you wouldn't realise unless you've been through it.

Always, ALWAYS, thinking of you.

Love forever and a day to you and your precious ones,
Jesse xx

Kristalee said...

That is very true Jesse, it is really hard to say yes to help when it is offered. It is better to just say you are going to do it.