Monday, July 12, 2010

Especially for friends & family of the bereaved

Now I know that I've already posted something similar on here; however, that was almost two years ago.  Now that I'm a little further ahead in this journey I feel my head is more clear and I'm not writing everything based on my pain and emotions.

I can't tell you how many times I have had friends and family members tell me that they "just don't know what to say".  And then there have been others who haven't said anything at all and continue to keep it that way, which by the way, is the worst thing you can do for your friend or family member when they are grieving. are some tips for loved ones of the grieving based upon my own personal experience & the experiences of others- please keep in mind, most of these tips are for infant loss; however, some of them will be helpful in any type of loss.

Things you should NEVER say or do to a grieving mother

"God must have known you could handle that...I sure couldn't have handled that"   This is the most absurd thing you could ever say to a mother who is mourning her child.  God doesn't choose certain mothers to take away their children to see if they can "handle it".  No mother can handle it-- by the grace of God, and through love and prayers she will only get THROUGH it.

"At least you didn't have to hear it cry"   If you tell a mother whose baby was miscarried or stillborn this, I can assure you, you will break her heart.  I would have given anything to hear my baby cry, and see him open his eyes.  The most heartbreaking thing in the world is to deliver your baby and to hear absolute SILENCE.

Never call the baby an "IT".  This baby was a human being, loved and wanted by his/her family.

Never change the subject when a mother is talking about her child.  It is never easy to talk about what happened to her and her baby.  When she does open up, please let her talk about her child. It brings much comfort just to have someone listen, and talking helps to get out the frustration, anger, and pain she is experiencing.

"He/She is in a better place".  Head knowledge, no matter how true it is,  cannot fix a broken heart.  She wanted her baby here, on earth, and in his/her nursery. 

Never put a time limit on a person's grief.  She and her husband have just had their whole world turned upside down. Regardless of how uncomfortable it makes you feel,  they are going to need a LOT of time to work through their grief. It may take a few years before they are able to completely heal.  If you try to give them a time limit, it will only slow the healing process.

"There must have been a reason".  Saying this will only make a parent feel like they were being punished by God. What reason could there possibly be????  Sometimes bad things just happen to good people- there are no reasons why.

"I'm so glad to see you smile again and being happy".  While this sounds like an encouraging comment to you,  it is just the opposite to the grieving parent.  Saying this will cause them to take about three steps back from their recovery.  This comment makes the parents feel like they have just betrayed their baby because they were smiling and being happy.  This is a comment that's ok for you to think, but please keep this thought to yourself.  Always remember- this is not about you and your comfort level. 

"I thought you would get over it faster because he/she wasn't full term".  Look at your children- does it really make a difference how big or small they are if they were to die today?! Would you cry any less if they were 10 inches long then say, 43 inches long?!

"You can always have another baby".  You don't know that. No one knows that.  Some people battle with infertility-before and after they have a child.  Not only this, but even if the couple does conceive again or even adopt one- no child can EVER replace the child that was lost.

"I know how you feel".  Unless you have lost a child you do NOT know how she feels. I have lost best friends, grandparents, and church members- none of them have even come close to the depth of pain I experienced when I lost my child.  Never compare someone else's loss to yours or anyone else for that matter.

Things you SHOULD say and do for a grieving mother/father

"I'm so sorry for the loss of your precious baby".  This is the best thing you can say.

"You are in our prayers and we are here for you, anything you need".  These words are very comforting; just make sure you stand by them.

Do bring meals, and offer to babysit their remaining children, clean their house, help with laundry, etc. A grieving mother can only focus on one thing for several weeks- how she can make it through life without her baby here with her.  Even the simple, mundane tasks of life are too hard for her to handle at this point. Some days, it's all she can do to get out of the bed and dress herself.

Tell the grieving parents you are still praying for them- even if it's a year or two later.  Just because they are learning to live again doesn't mean they don't still hurt, or feel the pain of their loss. Chances are, they are still thinking of their baby every single day.

Do remember the milestones- baby's due date, baby's birthdays, holidays, and Mother's Day/Father's Day.  These are the most difficult times for grieving parents.  So send them a card and/or special gift to let them know they are not forgotten, and that their baby is remembered and loved. If you do this, I promise you, it will mean the entire WORLD to them.

Be sensitive to their needs and feelings.  Every day she lives, this mother will see pregnant women, newborn babies, and everything else that will remind her of what she has lost.  Please don't call her and inform her of your 16 year old drug addicted niece who has gotten herself pregnant.  Honestly, this is the last subject she wants to discuss.  If you happen to find yourself gloriously pregnant, it's ok to share the news, but share it kindly and lovingly and let her know that it's ok if it hurts you to much to come to your baby shower.  For example, my neighbor and very good friend of mine got pregnant last summer. She came to my door crying with a box of extra pregnancy tests in her hand and a bottle of leftover fertility meds.  (fyi, my doctor said I could have this particular med) She gave them to me saying she would do anything in the world to help me get pregnant.

Do talk about the baby and call him/her by his name. Hearing her child's name is music to her ears. She isn't going to get to celebrate birthdays, or hear her baby say "I love you, mommy" for an entire lifetime. Talking about the baby verifies that he/she was here, and mattered, and will always be remembered.
Do ask how they are doing once in awhile.  Simply put, the grief usually goes longer than the sympathy. It will mean everything to them to know people haven't forgotten.

These are just a few things- I'm sure there are more, but for now, this should give you a good idea of how to help someone dealing with loss.  Life is life- people are busy, people mean well, but ignorance can really be destructive to a person's healing.  When all else fails, pray and ask God how He would have you minister to your loved one who is suffering.  "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ."



  1. Your precious Grant Thomas will always be a part of my heart. I have prayed for you and your precious Grant as well as Jake and Kris since you first learned that Grant was in need of some extra special prayers. My heart broke as I read that your baby boy had gone home to be with Jesus. I can honestly tell you that there isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of you and your precious Grant. August the fourteenth is forever his day in my heart. I had some little blue ducks with the number one on them that I wanted to place on his resting spot for his first birthday, but I didn't know exactly where to take them. So he didn't get them, but he did get blue balloons instead. Please know that there are more people out there that do care and that will forever remember Grant than you know. You and your precious family are in my prayers.

  2. That was very beautiful- thank you. Grant's resting place is at Mariposa Gardens, in the back section that is for babies and toddlers (there is a statue of a little boy and dog). Anyone is welcome to visit and give him "gifts".
    I truly appreciate your thoughts and prayers. Thank you for sharing them.


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