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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Helping those who have been through a loss

An internet friend of mine asked me the other day what she could do to help a friend who had a late term loss. I gave her some tips, but I thought about it and would like to compile a list of things people did that helped you and what they could have done that helped. Here are mine, and please feel free to add any in the comments section. After that, I'll go through and write it up.

1. Act as though the parents have lost a child. What would you have done if they had lost a child because of SIDS or a car accident or any other tragic reason? Would you have attended the memorial service, sent flowers, brought food? If so, do that for them.

2. One of the things that touched me the most was something very simple. One of my co-workers at the time came up to me after we got the diagnosis and simply said, "I don't know what to say to you. I even looked up what to do on the Trisomy 18 Foundation Web site, and I still don't know what to say." He then gave me a hug. This gesture meant more to me than just about anything else his words came from the heart.

3. Cut flowers, while appreciated, die, and we don't need anymore reminders of death. A plant, which will live or flower, is even better than a bouquet. Also, angels or other tangible items were also sweet reminders of my baby. I now have them placed around her urn.

4. If the family has older children, volunteer to help with them. I had to go to Tessa's kindergarten open house two days after we lost Jenna and then take her the next day for her first day. Even though I didn't want to miss it, it would have been helpful to have had someone pick her up (my mom drove me to get her, though, which did help) and take her for a few hours so I could have rested. Also, if someone had brought us meals so we didn't have to cook, it would have been much appreciated. Jenna was born on Tuesday, and Brian went back to work on Thursday, so it was business as usual, even though I wasn't my usual self.

5. I didn't want to talk to people at first. I hated people asking me what happened. I felt like screaming, "Why does it matter what happened? The end result is all the same, my baby is dead." If you do talk to the mother, don't ask what happened. Instead, ask if she feels like talking about it. If she doesn't, don't feel bad. Later, she will want to talk about her loss, and she will need you then. But, for me, at first, I just wanted to lock myself away from the world.

6. Sympathy cards are nice, especially those with a note. I received a few from people on my beat at work who shared stories of their own losses with me. I felt a kinship with them and wanted to get in touch with them later on.

7. I so appreciate it when people remember the anniversary of her death. I didn't think anyone remembered the one month anniversary, but my best friend texted me late that night and told me she was thinking of us. No one else has remembered, except at Christmas, when someone gave me a dragonfly candleholder and another friend gave me a plaque with one of my favorite sayings on it.

If you have any that you want to add, please do so in the comments section, and I'll write a complete blog about it later.


JenJen said...

I would like to tell people how much I love to hear my baby's name and to realize that like any mommy that I want to talk about my child. To realize that I might enjoy talking about my pregnancy and that my baby's memory doesn't make me crack up like some crazy person, but brings a smile to my face.

The Adventures of Jing & Ying said...

I agree with all of yours, except #5. The situation I experienced when I lost my daughter was that some people didn't call me, send a card, etc. At the time it crushed me. When I later confronted the people, their excuse was that they stayed away because they didn't know what to say. I would much rather people call me and ask questions than to simply stay away.