Tuesday, November 3, 2009

What Should I Say? What Should I Do?

People often ask me what they can do to help someone who has lost a baby. I thought it would be a good thing to post about. Here are some of my ideas:

Ideas for what to say/do when someone has lost a baby:
Some ideas compiled from Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

-Say something! When we lost our Parker there were so many people who didn't dare say anything to us because they didn't know what to say. Friends would avoid us if they saw us at the store. You don't need to preach to us or say something profound. Usually what means the most is, "We're thinking of you" or "You're in our prayers" or "We love you". And if you really can't think of anything to say, just hug us and hold us. We'll feel your love.

-Don't avoid them. I know it's hard to know the right words to say, but just being there for them so they can cry on your shoulder means more than you'll ever know.

-Please don't say that you know how we feel because you don't; unless you too, have also experienced the death of a child. And if you have, please share your story with them and be patient while they share theirs.

-It's great that people say, "Let me know if you need anything," but let's be honest here: most people are not going to call you, even if they really need something. You need to take the initiative and just DO something. When our son died, one friend called me and said, "I'm bringing you a soda and a candy bar. What's your favorite kind?" Other friends rented some movies for us to watch and brought us some homemade popcorn. These two things meant the WORLD to me. Take the initiative and just do something for them.

-If you are running errands, call to see if they need anything from the store.

-Let them know that the death of their baby affected you, also. Validate their child's life. Let them know you are sad.

-Let them share their story with you. Over and over again if necessary. Sometimes, they need to keep going over the details until they seem real.

-Send them a card. Let them know you are thinking of them and care about them.

-Give them something with their child's name on it. An ornament, a magnet, a figurine. Seeing or hearing your child's name means the world to any parent, but especially parents who have lost their child.

-If they have other children, please remember them. The siblings will be grieving also. Offer to take them on an outing, because it takes some time for the parents to face the reality that "life goes on."

-Please arrange meals for the family. Not only did they just have a baby, but they are also grieving. Cooking will be the last thing they want to worry about.

-Remember the baby on his/her birthday. Mark the birth date of the baby on your calendar so you can send a note or call. It makes me smile when people call and say, "I was thinking of Parker today". It means so much to me when people remember his special day. Just to hear the name of my baby or to see it in print gives me comfort.

-Offer to come over to throw a load of laundry in the wash, or other light-duty house work.

-Give a gift basket just for mom. Bubble bath, shower gel, stress relieving soaks, candles, etc. You could also give lounge clothing and a box of chocolates or other sweets.

-Plan a pamper night for the mom. A good friend of mine said, "We're giving you a make-over!" And they cut my hair, colored it, and made me feel like a queen again.

-If you think about giving them a call or stopping over for a visit, don't think about it - just do it. I can't tell you how many people I've had come up to me and say, "I wanted to call you or stop by, but...."

-Don't tell them their child is in a better place. How could anywhere be better than in mother's arms? Although this comment is well-intended, it can still hurt more than you know.

-Acknowledge their pain. Also acknowledge their strength. Many people would try to minimize my experience by saying, "At least you didn't get to know him, that would have been worse." Or they'd say things like, "He never took a breath? Oh, then he wasn't alive" or "At least you can have more children." Any mother can tell you that you love your child like crazy before they are even born. And any mother who has felt a child move inside her can attest to the fact that her child is/was, in fact, alive. And no matter how many children you have, you can never replace the one you lost. I appreciated those who acknowledged how hard my loss was for me and also complimented me on how strong I must have been to get through it.

-Give them helpful books. If they are religious, buy them a book that pertains to their beliefs and that will offer them comfort. Find quotes from their prophets and church leaders that will help them through.

-Write the baby a note. I know it seems weird, but at my son's funeral we had people write letters to our son and then we kept them. I love being able to read back on them now. It also helps solidify that my child was real and that others loved him, too.

-Just be there for them. Let them cry when they need to cry. Hold them when they need a hug. Don't run from them when they shed their tears. It is a difficult thing to ask, but it lets them know you care.


I'm sure there are many, MANY more helpful things you could do to help someone who has experienced loss. These were just a few ideas. Hopefully they will help you help others.

Please feel free to leave comments and offer more ideas/suggestions for things you've done or for things that have comforted you.

Friday, September 4, 2009

When Hello Means Goodbye

Five years. It's been five years to the day since my son became an angel. My sweet Parker. It's almost crazy to still be feeling this overwhelming love for my son. Not crazy to me, but maybe crazy to some. After all, I never got to meet him outside of the womb. I never got to hear him cry. I never got to see him smile. I never got to see his beautiful eyes look up at me. And yet, I love him as deeply, as purely, as completely as I do my Hayley. My heart bursts with the love I feel for Parker, especially today.

On this day every year, I let my guard down. I allow myself to be vulnerable. I let the pain back in. Along with that I am able to feel the emotions from that day again - both good and bad. I go through his box, I look at his pictures, and I read all of the old cards, letters, and his obituary. I allow myself to cry. Some years I will listen to his graveside service, but most years I can't bring myself to do it. Some emotions are better to stay distanced from.

I never would have imagined that the day I first met my son would also be the day I'd have to say goodbye to him. I never imagined that I'd be saying Hello and Goodbye in the same breath.

It's hard to wrap my mind around the idea that he would be five years old today. He'd be playing t-ball and soccer, he'd be teaching his little sister how to pump her legs on the swings, he'd be waving goodbye to me as he left for his first day of school.

I know that I will see him again and for this reason I rejoice. I still miss him like crazy though and I love him with all of my heart. I love you, Parker. Always, forever, no matter what.

Happy 5th Birthday in Heaven, my sweet son.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Please Don't Tell Them . . .

Please Don't Tell Them You Never Got to Know Me
by Pat Schwiebert

It is I whose kicks you will always remember
I who gave you heartburn that a dragon would envy
I who couldn't seem to tell time
and got your days and nights mixed up
It is I who acknowledged your craving for peach ice cream
by knocking the cold bowl off your belly
I who went shopping and helped you pick out
the perfect teddy bear for me
I who liked to be cradled in your belly
and rocked off to dreamy slumber by the fire
It is I who never had a doubt about your love
It is I who was able to put a lifetime of joy into an instant.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Little Hands

When my son died, I was given a precious gift. A lady in town made a plaster cast of Parker's hands. I was so grateful for this gift because it was something tangible that I could look at every day and remember my son. I can remember just how perfect his little hands were. For years I've wished I could properly thank this kind lady for making this for me. About a month ago, I finally got my chance.
I was working at the bookstore when I overheard an employee helping a customer. It was a man and he was giving the employee his name and address so he could be put into our rewards system. I heard the last name and immediately recognized it as the last name of the woman who made my precious gift. I noticed a woman standing with the man and so I walked over to the register. I asked her first name and then realized it was the woman who I've been wanting to thank.
I asked her if she was the lady who made the plaster cast of the hands of babies who died. She told me yes. I told her that she made some for me when my son died. She completely remembered who I was, and she even remembered where I had lived at the time. That was amazing to me since it has almost been five years.
I suddenly felt overwhelmed with emotion. Not only was I feeling a deep love and sense of gratitude for the gift this lady had given me, but I also felt extremely touched that she was one of the very few people who was able to hold my son in this life. That is so special to me to know that she saw my son and that she held him.
My eyes filled with tears as I expressed my gratitude for what she did for me. I explained to her that it is my absolute most-prized possession. I asked if I could give her a hug and she welcomed it. I hope she knows how much her act of service means to me.
After she left I completely broke down and cried. I had to run to the backroom and take a few minutes to compose my emotions. I'm not sure why the whole thing made me cry. Maybe it was because I finally got to thank her. Maybe it's because the gift means so much to me. Maybe it's because she knew my son. Maybe it's because she remembered him after all this time. I guess it could be a culmination of all those things. Either way, I welcomed the tears, I cherished the memory. It's okay to cry when you need to. Even if it's been almost five years. Tears are healing and therapeutic. They help me feel close to my son.
In short, I just feel truly blessed to have been able to finally thank this kind lady. I cherish this gift every day. I am thankful that I was given the opportunity to meet her. Thank you!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Missing You


I've been missing you so much lately. It's been quite some time since I've just let my tears flow. However, the other day I found myself crying in the shower. Missing you. Missing you like crazy. It just hit me like a load of bricks. I lost it.

Your memory was so clear and fresh in my head. Your sweet face, your curly hair, your little toes. You felt close. Closer than usual. It hurt. My heart ached for you. I want to hold you again. I'm feeling that deep longing again. I want to see you. I want to rock you. I want to run my fingers across your face.

I'm wrestling with emotions that I haven't felt for awhile. Pain. A broken heart.

I know I'll get to hold you again, but I've been weak lately. I've been missing you too much. I love you and no amount of time will ever erase that love. A mother's love never lessens.

Although this fresh reminder of the pain hurts, I'll take it. I'll take as much of it as I can get as long as it helps me feel closer to you - if even by an inch.

Missing you. Loving you always.