No one ever imagines they’re going to go through losing a child. So when it happens, not only are you experiencing the gut wrenching emotion of loss, you’re also experiencing confusion, emptiness, and loneliness.
Unless you have experienced it for yourself, you aren’t able to fully understand. And THAT IS OKAY.
I promise. We don’t expect you to understand. And to be honest, we don’t WANT you to understand because that would mean you’ve gone through what we have. We wouldn’t wish that on our worst enemy. I have had a lot of people reach out to me asking “What can I do for my friend?”
That being said, I’ve compiled a list of things you can do for a friend during this time.
*This is going off of my own personal experience, yours may be different.
Food Food Food
One of the last things I wanted to worry about was figuring out what I, my husband, and two boys were going to eat throughout the day. I am so thankful a friend of ours set up a meal train and that we had so many other people bring us meals as well. For the first week after, we had enough that we could just walk in to the kitchen and grab something instead of figuring out something to fix. Delivery is amazing. If you decide to prepare something and bring it, do not get offended if the family wants you to leave it on the porch for them to grab after you leave. For us, we really just wanted to keep to ourselves and not have to come face to face with anyone outside of our children and each other. Again, this is personal preference, but always offer to drop and leave it; they will tell you otherwise. You also want to make sure that you are complying with any food allergies that may exist.
Here are some of our favorites:
Pizza delivery! Super easy and a family favorite. You can order it and have it delivered straight to them!
Rotisserie chicken and sides! We were able to split this in to two different meals. We had pulled chicken sandwiches for lunch and the chicken for dinner.
Chick-Fil-A platter! We had someone bring us nugget, fruit, and cookie platters. This was awesome because we pretty much snacked on it all day.
Freezer meals are also a great idea. These can be put back for those days not immediately after. The days when grief strikes you out of nowhere and you aren’t emotionally able to do anything.
Sandwiches, chips, snacks. This was good because we were able to fill in gaps and it didn’t have to be eaten immediately.
Offer to sit with them or offer to leave them alone.
This is another one that is personal preference but you HAVE TO BE STRAIGHT FORWARD. Don’t just ask “How are you doing? Do you need anything?” Because 9 times out of 10 you’re going to get a response along the lines of “I’m okay, thanks.”
Instead, ask them, “Do you want me to come sit with you? We don’t have to talk, but you won’t be alone if you don’t want to be.” When my husband went back to work, I was home with my boys and I wanted it that way. I didn’t want to feel like I had to entertain someone, even though they said I didn’t. So, be understanding if your text or call goes unanswered, or they don’t want any visitors. I lost a lot of friends along the journey of loss because some didn’t understand I didn’t WANT to see anyone. I wanted to grieve alone.
If they have other children, offer to watch them
This could go either way. Immediately after, I didn’t want my boys out of my sight. I was very protective and wanted to just hug them and NEVER let go. When my husband went back to work though, I had to get up and take my oldest to school and pick him up. It was nice to have a friend offer to take him and pick him up for me, resulting in one less thing I had to do during the day. It was also nice because I was able to nap with my youngest son and didn’t need to worry about getting up at a specific time. Napping was pretty important because I lost a lot of sleep. At night when it was quiet, my grief would hit me and I would be scared to go to sleep because of all of the recurring dreams and nightmares I was having. Napping every chance I could allowed my mind to take a break during the day.
Remember their baby
My niece got me the most beautiful necklace after the loss of Baby 3 and a birthstone ring after the loss of Caleigh. I LOVED these and still do. You can find memorial jewelry for a really decent price and it is something that will be cherished forever. My sister-in-law also got me a charm bracelet later down the road. It not only has my 3 earth-side children’s birthstones, but it also has Baby 3 and Caleigh’s birthstones on it with a charm that reads “All of me loves all of you.” The best part about that gift it that I didn’t ask her for it. We were at a jewelry party one evening and she noticed me looking at it saying how I was going to add it to my wish-list. One day she handed me the bag that had the bracelet in it. SHE LISTENED. The best thing you can do for someone is to LISTEN.
Say their name
Do not be afraid to speak their child in to a conversation. You are not acknowledging the loss, you’re acknowledging their baby and their existence. You’re letting them know you remember and love them just as they do. If they did not name their baby, acknowledge them anyway. We did not name our Baby 3, but it is nice to hear people refer to him as Baby 3 and acknowledge them. It lets the family know they will live on and not be forgotten. That is one of the worst, anxiety-filled feelings that a parent of an angel will feel. It scares us that no one will remember our sweet ones so we spend our days, months, and years making sure our little ones are always remembered.
We had a book sent to us titled “Mommy, Please Don’t Cry: There Are No Tears in Heaven.” This is a short story and an easy read. It took me a month to finally be able to read it. When I did, I loved it. Since then, I have sent a copy to some friends that have experienced loss as well.
There is also a book titled “We Were Going to Have A Baby But We Had An Angel Instead.” Once again, another easy read, but this one is great for those that have children. This helps explain it a little easier.
Acknowledge both parents
My husband Charlie was my BIGGEST support, as I was his. That being said, people are very quick to always check in on the mommy and make sure she is okay. So often the daddy is left to himself. Not on purpose, but it happens. I do not know what I would have done without Charlie by my side. Before, in the hospital, and after. Make sure to check on them too. They’ve experienced the loss too.
They are always expected to be the strong ones and hold everything together, but I promise, they hurt just as much too. Let them know IT IS OKAY to grieve. It is okay to not have to be strong. IT. IS. OKAY.
Know that this such a revolving list
There are so many things you could add to this list, this is just what stuck out to me. I wish no one had to ever experience this, but it happens. It is real, and it happens every day. 1 in 4 pregnancies end in loss in one way, shape, or form. It is happening all around us. Hopefully this helps give an insight from someone who has experienced loss and you can help someone around you that is experiencing this devastating time in their life.