Monday, October 11, 2010

How to Help

I recently saw a variation of this on a fellow baby loss mommy's blog and thought I would share it here. I removed some of her personal info but much of it I left in her words. So many people have expressed to me that they just don't know what to say or do to help us or others they know that are experiencing a loss. I must confess, before Amelia I felt the same...
Please remember there is no effort made in love, that will hurt the grieving parent more than your silence.

How To Help A Friend Who Has Lost A Baby

Bring Meals to them. The last thing your friend will want to have to worry about is food. Organizing the meals or having one point of contact might be a good way to keep things moving and make sure the meals are coming on a regular basis. Having a list of people who will bring meals to their home in the days after the birth/loss will be a tremendous help. Some easy ideas for meals would be a pot roast, lasagna, pasta, baked chicken... anything they can reheat, too. If you don't cook, but you still want to help, gift cards for meals are still a great option.

Mail a card. Come to the service. Send a plant/flowers. These seem obvious right? Yet, I think our generation has moved away from these common courtesy's over time. Your efforts will be noticed. Doing nothing, saying nothing or not being present will also be noticed. Just remember, no one wants to go to a funeral or visitation. We go to show our love and support for those who are grieving, not for ourselves.

Call, email, send messages, write notes... but don't be offended if they don't respond. It can get overwhelming to get lots of notes, and they are so encouraging, but many times the energy is so zapped that she won't be able to respond to each message. Do say something. And don't give up. Your friend may not feel like talking to anyone. But she will want and need to know her friends still love and support her. In the days immediately surrounding her loss, she may feel numb and not even be capable of a response. Your notes of love and sympathy will not go unnoticed. Same thing if you are on Facebook... send her a message or post a note on her wall. I read every single comment I received. I have gone back to them since when I needed encouragement.  Even if you don't know the person very well... go ahead and send a note.

Don't stop writing notes....or texting....continue doing this weeks or months after the baby is born. The mom hasn't forgotten, but lots of others have, or it's not at the top of their minds anymore. It is so nice to know that others still care, even after family has left town and things have quieted down. Make yourself a note to write to that person or even just give them a quick note, "I'm still thinking about you...I'm still praying for you."

You'll want to offer them advice... don't.  I would almost go so far as to say, resist the urge to say something positive, too. Well meaning statements such as "You can have more children" or "God has a plan for you" just don't help. This applies if you know someone carrying a baby with a fatal birth defect or after the baby is born.Your friend doesn't want another baby-- she wants the one she just lost. She also doesn't want to hear about God's plan right now. Just like in the book of Job when his friends sat with him in silence for days, just being with the in silence often speaks more than any words could. Allow you friends to feel sad, be a listener. Ask them how they're doing. Tell them what verses in the bible you are praying over them.

Do something practical. Offer to help with the dogs. Maybe your friend needs her yard mowed. Remember, dads experience loss and grief just like the mom, but often in different ways. The last thing he probably wants to do is mow the yard. Ask if you can help her with housework, laundry... whatever. I would suggest offering to do a specific task, not just saying "if there is anything I can do, just let me know." They may not feel comfortable asking for help or suggesting anything to you. If you want to reach out and help, just do it-don't let your hesitations prevent you from loving through service.

Continue to invite them to things. Even though your friend will probably not feel up for being around lots of people, still invite her. Don't give up even when she continues to turn you down.

Contribute to a memorial fund. Sometimes, parents will set up a memorial fund in honor of their baby who has passed away. Sometimes, they may not have a memorial fund set up, but there is some kind of organization or fund you can contribute to in honor/memory of their little one. Be mindful of the families desires and beliefs when choosing a charity or fund they have not chosen themselves.

Remember the anniversary of their baby's death. Mark it on your calendar, so that when the one year anniversary comes, you can send them a card or give them a call to let them know you still remember their baby.

Speak their child's name. When you speak of your friend's child by name, it acknowledges that their child matters. You will not make them sad or add to their grief by mentioning their child by name! They will appreciate that their child has touched you and continues to be remembered by others.

Pray for them. And let them know you are praying for them. A lot of times, people will say as an addendum to a conversations, "you're in my prayers." Some people genuinely mean it, others just say it because it seems like the right thing to say. Whatever you do, if you tell them you are praying for them, do it! Here's an idea...write out your prayers and send them to her or suggest that you say a prayer together before you hang up the phone or part ways.


Unknown said...

These are all great suggestions!! I'm sure they will help someone help someone who has lost.

Mary said...

These are great suggestions, hope you don't mind if I copy and paste into my blog to share with my family and friends and others who may need to read it.

Melissa said...

Thank you for posting this. There are so many wonderful pieces of advice contained within this.

Unknown said...

I love the suggestions, I am sure you are helping others be able to be there for someone when they may not know how to.

Stephanie Patzer said...

Amelia's Blog was on my things to do today! I told you, my OCD self has to write this stuff down! Last time you were in, you were talking about a speaking engagement that you were invited to attend. I recall a little chuckle come out of your mouth, almost questioning why they would want you to talk. If you can share your insight through this blog, you can certainly do it in person. You have an incredible energy around you, I believe Amelia is using her life as an angel to help deliver the messages that I read here. Those folks will be especially lucky because they get to feel your warmth and see your smiley eyes that many of your readers only get to imagine. Thinking of you and praying for your family, for real.