The truth is there are no perfect words to help heal someone who has suffered such a tremendous loss.
But as someone who has gone through the heartbreak loss of a little one myself, I believe that we need to educate people around us on how to respond.
I talked to a dear friend of mine who has suffered through 5 losses.
Just writing that punches me in the gut for her.
But she was one of my biggest and best supporters through my loss…never dwelling on her losses, but dwelling on me.
We recently discussed what it is about this situation that makes it so taboo to be talked about and we came on 2 main factors: People don’t know what to do or what to say.
They just don’t. I didn’t!
And even when I was in the situation I didn’t know what I wanted people to say or do. But, now I see more clearly and maybe this will help you and others reading it.
What to Do
The best way to be there for your loved one during this time is to support them. Don’t shun them or leave them alone because they are pushing themselves away from everyone and everything. Pull them back in.
Here are some ways to do just that:
- Be there for them. Even if that means you just sit and stare out the window. They just need to know that they have someone there for them.
- Bring over food, dinner or snacks because that is one less thing they have to think about.
- Some might like a few moments alone, so offer to take their kids or come over and entertain them.
- Flowers can always brighten someone’s day.
- A card, a text, phone call or silly Marco Polo. Yes to all of that.
- Invite them to go on a hike in nature or a trip to the beach to allow their soul to breathe.
- Listen…listen through the silence and listen when they’re are ready to talk.
- Don’t constantly ask them about it. They will talk when they’re ready.
Let them know that they are loved because they are trying to sift through every phase of grief all at once.
What to Say
In a time where it seems like it’s easier for you to say nothing at all, tell them that you’re here for them, that you love them and that you are grieving with them.
It’s okay to tell them that you don’t know what to say or do and it’s okay to check in on them every day.
But maybe find a more creative way than just asking how they are doing that day…because you already know the answer.
Every day will be different and every emotion will be different! Feelings of sadness, anger and confusion will come up. Tell them it is okay, but don’t tell them it will be okay.
Just focus on the now…don’t paint a picture of a fairytale ending. Their heart cannot handle thinking of a better tomorrow just yet. And that is okay.
What Not to Say
As important as it is to know what to say, it’s equally as important to know what not to say. This alone is half the reason no one talks about it because they don’t want to say the wrong thing.
Here is a list of things NOT to say:
- Don’t ask if they have been tested to figure out why they lost baby.
- Don’t tell them everything happens for a reason…there’s no comfort in hearing that as they are going through all of those emotions right now.
- Don’t ever say “at least it happened now” or “at least you were only this far along”. The amount of time does not matter, it still hurts and is devastating.
- Don’t ask how it happened or what they might have done wrong…they are already blaming themselves for things that were out of their control.
- Don’t say that it was for the best because there was obviously something wrong with the baby or child. Many times this is the case with a miscarriage, but these are not comforting words.
- And please, don’t use the “funny” excuse of “now you have a reason to keep trying”. You have no idea how long it will take them to get to that point.
I want to encourage you to keep up the support. It’s easy to say your peace and move on, but keep in mind that the loss of a child will always be with your loved one.
Heck, it’s been two years and I can still find myself grieving from time to time!
I feel like many of us can put on a tough exterior but are hurting below the surface. So continue to be that light in someone’s life, continue to put a smile on their face and continue to be a shoulder they can lean on.