Hear from Peyton Lauderdale of Gathering Hope:
There’s a lot of “Don’t Say This” out there when it comes to helping a friend who has experienced loss. Telling people what not to do often leaves those with good intentions feeling like whatever they say will be wrong. Because I belong to a “Sucky Sisterhood” of women who have lost a child, I could share a list a mile long of things that have been said by friends, family and even healthcare professionals that are tremendously hurtful. Most of the time these things are said in love, but after three years of experiencing this firsthand and hearing from the community I now belong to, I’ve come to realize that much of it is from the discomfort of friends and loved ones who don’t know what to do with the heavy grief of a mom who is without her child.
So, what can you do to help someone you love through this kind of loss? Here are five ways to love a grieving mom:
I. Think outside of the box and anticipate needs she might have. If she has other children, entertaining them can be helpful. Buying new sheets if she’s spending a lot of time in bed (wash them and put them on the bed, too!), bringing a good book to read, gifting a Netflix subscription or even bubble bath and a mindless magazine can be sources of relief. One of the most helpful gifts I received was a caddy filled with paper plates, napkins and plastic utensils, making it easy for both guests and my family to get what they needed for meals.
II. Be considerate when sharing news about pregnancies, baby showers, etc. Tell her about these things in person (if possible) and privately ask what would make her most comfortable. Remain flexible for her to change her mind at the last second, too.
III. Keep the communication lines open, ask the hard questions and be willing to listen to her answers with an open heart. Ask about her baby. Allowing her to talk about how she’s feeling and how she’s missing her child is both kind and rare. Even if it makes her cry, don’t shy away from asking. If she doesn’t want to talk right then, respect that. Sometimes we just want to talk about “normal” things and ignore the pain for a while.
IV. Remember that anniversaries or milestones can be just as hard as the initial loss of a child. Consider doing some of the things that were helpful just after her loss, like providing dinner. Because grief can be so consuming, simple things like making meals can be a struggle.
V. Pray. Pray for her heart, her mind, her relationships, the challenges she will face over a lifetime and her immediate heartache. I am convinced that the prayers of others, when I couldn’t do it myself, sustained me.
VI.Bonus tip: Help her get connected with others who have a shared experience. Hearing how others have survived and what they experienced can be helpful in her healing process.
Gathering Hope exists to provide a safe place to honor babies and give support to moms who have experienced pregnancy loss of any kind. Invite a friend you know who could benefit from the company of other moms like her. Hold her hand and honor her baby alongside her. I promise, it will mean the world to a friend you love. Register today on our our website, www.gatheringhope.net.
We hope to see you at The Summit in Aledo on October 22, 2017.