For Families and Friends of Someone Who has Lost a Pregnancy...
Somebody you love has lost a baby. You've never been through this. You know they're suffering. You can imagine it's painful, but you don't know exactly what to say or what to do to help. You want to be there for them, but how? Let me give you a little bit of advice of things that helped me out... and some things to please never say, as well meaning as you may be. Now, this is just me, and everyone is different, but here are tips I wish people knew.
BE PRESENT: Just let them know you're there. Don't stay away completely assuming they need their space. (That being said, don't overstay and be in their space constantly). If you're close enough to be in their home, helping out around the house, like a mom or spouse or close friend, this is an amazing help. Clean the house. Cook a meal. Feed the family. Let her rest and cry and be alone if she wants that. Bring her comfort food if she's hungry or respect her if she has no appetite. She won't starve to death in a few days. Don't harass her about that. Just let her deal with grief how she needs to. For me, the clean house helped because if my surroundings were messy on top of my mood, it would have been much worse. Clean smells and a quiet house was so important.
SAY THINGS LIKE "I'M SO SORRY," "THIS SUCKS," "I'M PRAYING FOR YOU," and "I LOVE YOU." You don't have to say anything profound in order to touch their hearts. All you need to say is that you're sorry that this has happened. Don't tell them you understand because your dog died once. That's not helpful. Just say you're sorry. That's all that's needed.
SEND CARDS - It is nice to get the unexpected card in the mail letting you know that someone is thinking of you. Especially once some time has passed, if you let them know with a card, text, or a phone call that you're thinking of them, it will mean a lot. Keep checking in weeks and months later. It gets harder when it seems no one remembers you and your pain.
SEND MEMORIALS - when someone would send a memorial to a children's hospital or to any charity in his name, it really touched me. Not only were they thinking of us, but Matthew's name was being honored to make a difference in the world. I wanted nothing more than for his birth and life to matter to more than just myself.
TALK ABOUT IT - don't be afraid to talk about the baby. Ask questions, not nosey, meddling questions, but sincere and caring questions. Let the family know you care enough to know about their story. At the beginning, they may not be up to talking about it, but as time passes, they will want to talk and they usually don't feel like anyone wants to hear about it, so they suffer in silence.
DO NICE THINGS FOR THE OTHER KIDS- if there are other kids in the family, taking the kids to do fun things, bringing special gifts for them and just spoiling them in general was very much appreciated. I felt like a total mom fail after I lost Matthew. I just didn't have the emotional energy to be the mom I wanted to be. I so appreciated it when people would give extra attention to my girls. They needed it so much and the children are so often overlooked. They are hurting so deeply as well, confused and sad for their families, but they don't know how to express this. They usually just sit off to the side, a silent observer of the overwhelming life changes happening to their family.
DON'T OVERSTAY - Pay attention to the cues you're receiving from the family. If they invite you in to sit and talk, they may be anxious for company. They might need someone to take their mind off of all that's been going on. If they don't invite you to sit, or just talk to you at the door, respect that, too. It's a confusing time. Some days are better than others. Knowing that you care enough to stop by means so much.
DON'T BE TOO NOISY - Don't allow a party to go on in the living room with laughter and cutting up while mom is crying herself to sleep in her bedroom. She wants to feel like others are sad, too. It's hard to process how the world is moving on when her world is crumbling around her. If you have small, noisy, screaming kids, try to leave them somewhere else when you drop by.
DON'T RUSH TO TELL HER YOU'RE PREGNANT - if you are expecting, she will want to be happy for you, but if it's been very recently that she lost her baby, it will be hard to handle the news. You don't have to hide it for nine months, but be sensitive in your announcement and don't talk about it incessantly.
DON'T TELL HER TO MOVE ON - for the love of God, never ever tell her to move on. I don't care if it's been 10 days or 10 years. She lost her baby and she can grieve for as long as she needs. The pain will lessen, but it will always sting.
DON'T SAY "ITS FOR THE BEST," "HE/SHES IN A BETTER PLACE," "GOD NEEDED HIM/HER MORE THAN YOU DID," OR "AT LEAST YOU HAVE OTHER KIDS... OR YOU CAN ALWAYS TRY AGAIN..." OR ANYTHING ABOUT THEIR OTHER CHILDREN MAKING IT BETTER - platitudes, however well meaning they are intended, never went over well with me. They usually just hurt my feelings more. Just say you're sorry that it happened and move on. No one can explain why and you don't have to try to be the philosopher. Just be the support.