Death of a child
Good Monday Morning, Mamas!
When it comes to someone who is grieving, silence is golden and less can definitely can be more. As I told you last week, a friend lost her 20 something daughter and it has sent me and the women in my women’s group into a tailspin. We have been consumed by how we can help her, what can we possibly do to make this time better for her. The truth is, there is really nothing that we can do to make this time better for her. It sucks and will likely suck for a really long time-likely forever. But Regena Thomashaur, the infamous Mama Gena of the School of Womanly Arts, offered an excellent article published in the New York Times by David Brooks. I strongly encourage you to read this article, tuck it away and refer to it when someone you love is grieving, or, and I hope this doesn’t happen to any of you, in the event that you encounter a loss. Here are the highlights:
Do Be There: So often people think that the grieving familly needs space. Nothing could be further from the truth! Coming and sitting with someone who is grieving (or in despair on bed rest!!) is so comforting. You don’t need to say anything. You don’t have to have any answers. Your presence is your present. Please share this priceless gift!!
Don’t Compare-Ever! Grief is not a game of tit for tat or one upmanship. The events your are witnessing are very profound for the person who is experiencing them. You may empathize, and you may have an equally profound experience. But allow your loved one to have their experience, simply be a witness to their experience and their journey.
Bring Soup-You may not know what to say, but if you notice something that can be done, do it! Dishes need washing? Wash them. Groceries needed? Get a list and go grocery shopping. Anything that you can do will be appreciated, and many times its those subtle, non-verbal expressions of love and support that have the most impact and are never forgotten.
Don’t Say You’ll Get Over It!-When someone suffers a devasting loss, they will never get over it! They will forever be changed by the event. They will move on from it, they will learn to live with the results of the event. But they will never get over it. Respect that your loved one is forever changed and that they will develop a new “normal” to which both you and they will have to adapt.
Be a Builder-This is quite possibly my favorite suggestion of all of the suggestions in this article. When a catastrophic event happens, everyone rushes in and wants to help. After the immediate surge of activity; the initial loss and the ceremonies that ensue, the family is still left with grief and sorry. It is then, after all of the “appropriate” steps have been taken, after all the socially and morally correct displays of grief, sorrow and comfort have been displayed, that the family is often left to fend for themselves. In this article, David Brooks refers to these people as “Fire Fighters”. They rush in at the time of crisis, provide emergency assistance and are then on their way. A “Builder” is someone who is there long after the intial emergency response. They stay for as long as it takes for the family to get back on their feet and they move along with the family as they establish a new “normal”. Builders are needed as much if not more than “emergency responders.”
Don’t say, “It’s all for the best” or try to make sense out of the situation-When I had my second miscarriage, I recall someone saying to me, “Well, it’s probably for the best. This baby wasn’t developing well and probably would have had a lot of problems.” Really?? I know many parents of special needs children and while it is a daily struggle, I don’t know of any of them who would rather be without their child. But this is not the point (except to say that this is a totally absurd thing to say!). When tragedies strike, don’t try to lighten the impact or make sense of it. It hurts and that is all there is to it! It’s not for the best, it simply happened. Be with the family in the moment.
I want to emphasize that this is an amazing list of very useful tips for dealing with those loved ones going through the grieving process. It is my sincerest hope that none of you mamas ever has to share this list with loved ones as they are trying to comfort you, but I do hope that when you go to comfort another-and life is such that you will be called on to comfort another-you have some really useful tools to guide you as to what to do. Be well mamas!!
I hesitated to write this blog as I didn’t want to be a “downer”. But loss is a part of life. I experienced the loss of 2 pregnancies and was devastated. And while I will in no way attempt to compare the loss of my 2 pregnancies with my friend’s loss of her 20 something daughter, I feel a pain in my heart for her as a mama.
The loss of a child is unfathomable, yet each year thousands of mamas endure this heartbreak. We, the friends of my friend, are doing what we can to surround her with love without being smothering. Right now there is a lot of family around and arrangements are being made. So we have made the decision to be present, but for now, to step back and to allow my friend and her family to do what they need to do. Then, in the coming weeks when all of the “formalities” are complete, be present as much as she’ll allow.
One of the things that was critical for me when I was moving through my miscarriags was to have people to turn to and to lean on much later in the grieving process. People are wonderful intially. But I found that months later I was still sad and many people didn’t get that. I am so grateful for the friends who, even 9 months later, were willing to sit with me and allow me to cry over my loss. My friend is going to need a lot of support in the coming months, far more than I needed and perhaps even professional help to navigate this process. It will likely take my friend years to come to terms with the loss of her daughter – if she ever really does. My aunt says that she still feels sadness over the loss of my cousin and he passed away at 43 years old in 2001.
So what does this have to do with Mamas on Bedrest?
Our commmunity has been very VERY fortunate in that we have not experienced many losses. To date, I know of only one mama whose bed rest experience did not result in a live birth (if there are others, please let us know how we can support you.). We support eachother, offer tips and to date, it seems to have had a positive impact. Granted, we are a relatively small community, but I do believe that our community has played a role in mamas being able to survive the rigors of bed rest and to endure the unending days of boredom and monotony.
I have written about pregnancy loss and the loss of a child before. For those of you mamas who have lost a pregnancy or a young child (infant) I want to call your attention to some grief resources found in a previous blog. They are wonderful and while not for every one, perhaps you’ll find something of benefit. Lastly, I’d like to invite you to join our community. We are a wonderful group of women and the love, support and wisdom never ceases to amaze me. Feel free to post comments here on the blog or send private messages to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please keep my friend and her family in your prayers. Thanks so much.
It’s been 9 years since I lost my 3rd pregnancy. I had considered not posting today, feeling a bit melancholy, morose.
“Mamas don’t want to hear that,” I said to myself.
I’m the moderator of Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond. I’m here to be a source of comfort, of inspiration. I’m supposed to lift these ladies up! The last thing that mamas need to hear/see when they come here is a story of loss. Or is it….?
I LOVE writing these blogs. I LOVE learning about and presenting to all of you the various products, services and information that comes across my computer desk. I LOVE interacting with all of you -hearing your stories and most especially getting to see the photos of your beautiful babies! I started this website and this business with the specific intention of making high risk pregnancies and bed rest easier for those coming behind me. I didn’t want another woman to feel the sadness, loneliness and isolation that I felt as I struggled to bear my children. I didn’t want another woman to feel the fear and feeling of aloneness that I felt while I was hemorrhaging with my daughter and watching to see if my OB would be able to “make me okay.” And I wanted to provide a listening and understanding ear (?eye) for those women with the “unspeakable” thoughts and fears-the ones that those who have not walked our path feel uneasy hearing, and quickly try to “poo poo” away with,
“God has a plan” and “Don’t worry, it will all work out alright”.
I’m sorry folks, when I am in the midst of the storm, those words are as soothing as dumping a bucket of water over my already drenched head! While I do believe in God and there being a Divine plan to this crazy thing called life, sometimes life is just hard and when you are going through, you really don’t care about God or the Divine plan! It is in those moments that my mother’s admonisments to me as a child ring so very true,
“If you’ve nothing good to say, say nothing.”
Silence really can be golden.
Within our midst we have mamas that have lost perhaps one or many pregnancies. We have mamas that have had to utilize in vitro fertilization or other technologies to become pregnant. We have mnamas who had or currently have wee ones whose lives are hanging in the balance. We have it all and I am proud to say that mamas at any and all stages are welcome! Please don’t “pretty up” your stories or your feelings. If you are sad, you are perfectly welcome to share those feelings in their real, raw form. If you have suffered loss, please let us, let me, know so that we can come along beside you and share your sorrow. For some, this may be too much intimacy, too much transparency. Letting others see you at your most vulnerable may be something you are just not ready to do. That’s fine. But do know that if you do need to share, you are welcome to do so.
I’m going to sign off now and do a little something special to acknowledge my wee one. It’s All Saints Day and while I do believe the spirit of my wee one has long crossed over, I am going to spend a bit of time giving thanks to and for those that have been a part of my life but are now gone.