Wednesday, March 2, 2016

My suggestions for loss

I haven't updated this blog in over two years. But recently I've felt led to add a few more things for people who continue to find this blog now. Things have changed a bit since I last posted, and I think I have some new found and hard won wisdom to share with God's grace. So here we go.

I've been amazed at how many times I've been asked for advice when someone has a friend or family member lose a baby. I'm honored and humbled by it, actually. It seems like God has given me a lot more opportunities lately to share our story. So I'm going to post some of the common questions and concerns I've heard lately, so that maybe this can help people who may be dealing with this.

One of the first questions people usually ask me is, "What can I do?"

Really, nothing. Nothing will make it better. Nothing will take away the hurt. Nothing will bring that baby back. But I know that's not helpful for a person to hear when they're trying to help a loved one. And there are some things you can do that might ease the ache a bit.

1. Be there in the way your loved one needs you. Grief is as individual as the person experiencing it, so be thoughtful and understanding. Take your cues from them. Some people want to be alone. Leave them alone for a little while, and let them know you're there for them when they're ready for you. Some people need people around to stave off the despair. Be present and available for them. Some people need to talk incessantly about the baby. Let them. Some people won't want to say anything about the baby. Let them. Some people will scream and cry and throw things. Let them. Some people will stare into space in silence. Let them. Do not ever tell them how they should grieve. Ever. Let them grieve how they need to, and let them know you're there for them when they need you, how they need you.

2. Don't be offended by moodiness or outbursts. It's practically uncontrollable.

3. If the baby isn't gone yet or is barely gone, help them make memories of the baby. Get kits for hand prints and foot prints. Take pictures. Get a lock of hair and a sweet receptacle for it. Anything you can think of, do it. There are tons of memorial things online. Just Google pregnancy and infant loss gifts or something and you'll be amazed.

4. Be the village. Be the person or people they can count on for meals, childcare, counseling, fun away from grief. Don't wait to be asked, just do what needs to be done unless they tell you not to. It's hard to ask for help or even know what you need help with when your heart has been ripped out.

5. Show compassion. Don't bring up things that will be painful, don't say things like, "well at least you don't have can can have more..." Sometimes silence is golden. Think before speaking.

6. Don't put a time line on grief. Don't expect people to go back to "normal." There is no longer the same normal. This will always be a part of them, even if the pain fades and time helps them to "move on," aka continue living with a hole in their heart. Yes, the pain fades, but it never goes away. Expect that. Expect random days to reduce them to tears, even months or years later. Don't pressure them to "move on."

7. Take your cues from them. This is so worth repeating. Be sensitive to their needs and take your cues from them. Back off when necessary. Push in close when necessary. Don't project your expectations onto them.

8. Pray for them. Love them. Show them you care. Ask God for wisdom and discernment.

I don't know if this is helpful at all, but it's something I thought I should at least attempt to post. I'll be posting at least one more post in the near future, so check back for that soon. God bless.