10 Ways To Help A Mom in Mourning

10 Ways To Help A Mom in Mourning

My girls would be almost 9 years old now, had they lived.

They were March babies, born on the cusp of spring.

Spring that year, and summer, fall and winter, too … they were to be my time of deep mourning. Probably my darkest days, though as God always does, He placed angels in my midst to strengthen me and see me through.

Looking back on that time, there were definitely things that helped me hold on, and things that broke my heart. Everyone was so well-intentioned, of course, but it’s difficult to know what to do or say when someone you love is hurting, especially when you haven’t felt that particular anguish yourself.

Having buried two of my own newborns, and having been the child left behind when my older sister passed at the age of 7 {and having witnessed my own mother’s grief}, I thought I’d compile a short list of ways to encourage and serve a mom who is in mourning.

If someone you love has suffered such a loss, I hope that this will be of some help to you in your effort to bring her comfort.

Mom in Mourning

 

1. Talk about her child. A mother does not want to ever feel that her child has been forgotten, and it’s unbearable when people behave as though they never were for fear that the mere mention of his or her name will bring the mom undue distress. Whether she held that child for moments, days, or years, when a mother is in mourning, there is no day that passes when that little one is not on her mind.

It will help her to know that others remember as well.

2. Don’t diminish any loss. Whether a mother miscarries, endures a stillbirth or a loss early on in infancy, or buries an older child, she has lost her baby. Most moms start envisioning their children’s lives the moment they know they’re pregnant. They plan, they dream, they wonder. When a baby dies, she not only loses that child, but the future she saw for him or her. Please don’t act as though it shouldn’t be quite as painful because the child was so young.

I know this sounds like common sense, but it isn’t necessarily. I was once told that I should be able to move on quickly because I didn’t know my girls. Oh, yes I did, ma’am. Oh, yes, I did. The twins were delivered prematurely at 20 weeks and died shortly thereafter, but I knew their every kick. To me, they already had distinct personalities.

Don’t ever question how deeply intertwined a mother’s heart is with her child’s, no matter what age they were when she lost them.

3. Let her cry. Crying can make some people feel very uncomfortable, but what could be more natural to someone who’s suffered a loss than releasing her grief in this way?

Remember, you don’t have to fix it.

You don’t have to have any answers.

You just have to tell her that with you, she’s not required to put on a brave face. And if you’re a company-crier like me {I can never let someone cry alone}, even better.

4. But don’t be afraid to make her laugh, either. When a person’s in mourning, every moment feels so heavy. A laugh is welcome relief … and it’s a reminder that joy still exists, even when life feels devoid of it.

5. Check in. Her pain will take some time to heal. A good long time, most likely. We all have the tendency to react with words and deeds of comfort immediately after a loss, but then, as is most natural, we go back to our normal routines. Put it on your calendar to check in with your friend after the rush of condolences has settled down. This is the time that the real healing–and real grieving–will begin.

This is the time she’ll truly need your support.

6. Respect her timeline. For a year after the girls died, celebrations hurt me.

Any kind.

Birthdays came and went, new homes were purchased, new pregnancies were announced and babies were born, and while I could muster up the energy to send a lovely card to mark the occasion, I just couldn’t be a part of the festivities. There was nothing to celebrate in my heart, and putting on a happy face and making small talk about life was unbearable. Some friends completely understood {and I thank God for them}, and some friends didn’t.

Be the friend who respects that what she’s going through right now is probably one of the hardest things in life to face, extend that compassion, and forgive her if she’s not at your next outing.

She will be again, I’m sure. In time.

7. If you don’t know what to say, say exactly that. How could any of us know what to say in every situation? We forget that we don’t have to. The best gift you could give a friend is your compassion, and I’ve found that those who approached me with “I have no words …” were the ones I ended up talking to the most.

Their open arms and honesty made them such great caregivers.

8. Just be there. Acquaintances can disappear at times like this. Not because they’re thoughtless, but because they’re afraid of not knowing how to comfort or what to say. True friends know they don’t have to. They just have to want to help.

9. Small gestures mean so much. I remember returning to work after my maternity leave. It was difficult going back to a place of business–a place where I really could not wear my heart on my sleeve, even though it was hard not to. I felt awkward and alone as I walked through the halls back to my desk, until I turned the corner and saw that my chair was covered in notes from my co-workers. Later that day, a gentleman I worked with came by my desk, said absolutely nothing, but leaned down to kiss me on the cheek. Some may have thought it inappropriate, but it was so far from it. He had no idea how to put into words what he wanted to say, and that small but loving gesture said everything.

I will never forget it.movie Get Out

10. I kept the focus in this post on what you should do for someone who’s suffered a loss, but I’m going to end this piece with a few shouldn’ts. Please, don’t ever say:

  • you have/will have other children
  • this happened for a reason
  • he or she is in a better place
  • you can get pregnant again

to a mom who’s lost a child. While all of those things may be true, they are not a comfort to a parent who no longer has that child in her arms or in her womb.

And while I’ve focused my thoughts on the moms out there, it goes without saying that fathers feel this loss just as deeply–though perhaps differently–than moms. I can only think that all of the above would apply to them as well.

I hope that you will never need to reference this list, but if you do, I hope it empowers you to reach out and be a part of your friend’s healing process. If you find it worthy, please share. There’s nothing better for a mom who’s lost a child than knowing that somehow, her pain has enabled her to help others.

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Linking up also with the Monday link-up @ The Mom Initiative and the lovely Heidi and the GFC Collective @ Antlers and Roses.

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Comments

  1. What a wonderful post… thank you for reminding me to be real. Barbara
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  2. I am not a mother, but I have felt like one, when both my younger siblings were young and I had to take care of them all the time. Thank you for writing this!
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  3. Thank you so much for sharing this, Michelle! xoxo

  4. Thank you for sharing this my dear Michelle. I can’t imagine…I also struggle with the”right” thing to say or do. I love this post. xo

  5. wow. what a great great great post. you are such an inspiration! I know often times in trails we want to question why? and we don’t always have an answer. I am so impressed at how God has used you to take a situation ,that i could not even begin to imagine how painful it was, and use you as a tool and turn it into a blessing for others.

    I loved #1 and #7 ///

    thanks for sharing your heart today!
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  6. {Melinda} I am so, so sorry for your losses, Michelle. Thank you so much for this post — it does a service for women who have lost and for those who want so much to say/do the right thing, but aren’t sure what that looks like.
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  7. What a powerful and practical post! Stumbled and shared on google+…and I’ll continue to share it as I know there are so many mothers out there who have lost a child. Thank you for sharing from your heart and helping us know the best ways to mourn with those who mourn and offer them support and love in the best ways.
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  8. Michelle, this is beautiful. Thank you for sharing your story and for reaching out to help others in this way.

  9. Oh wow Michelle! So sorry about your loss my friend! As a mother, I can’t.even. imagine! Thank you for your list, you’re right…no one EVER knows what to say. I learned after my mother’s death that the one thing you DO want others to do is talk about the deceased…it really brings comfort! I always thought otherwise before I experienced the loss of my mother. My family and I make it a point to talk about her constantly. I always say…a person is only dead when you’ve forgotten about them. From the looks of it, you’re keeping your sweet girls’ memories alive! Thanks for sharing your story, I will definitely share it with others! Have a blessed week my friend!

    Michell @Prowess and Pearls
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  10. This list would have come in handy a few years ago when my sister miscarried. It was a very traumatic experience for her and all of us. Thanks for sharing.

    Amy
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  11. You know, I have to admit that in situations like this, I’m so afraid to talk about the child (or friend or spouse) who passed away. I so desperately don’t want to make things worse that I’m afraid that bringing up the loss will just hurt more. But I can see what you mean about how you don’t want others to minimize the life lived by being afraid to bring it up. Thanks for sharing this, Michelle. I know this is difficult to write, but I know you will bless others through this.
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  12. Oh Sweet Michelle, I LOVE this post! Having shared a nearly identical situation, I couldn’t help shaking my head in agreement with all of your topic points. I also love that you included talking about the lost child. Quite often, people tend to shy away thinking it’ll be too painful to discuss. Looking back on my own experiences, it was more painful NOT discussing it. I admire your courage and thank you for taking the time to share with all of us. Your post is sure to be a blessing to all who read it. 🙂
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  13. It is wonderful that you shared this. And your timing – so spot on, my friend. One of my dear friends just lost a baby a week ago. She was around 30 weeks. My heart simply breaks for her and her husband, but I don’t know what to say or how or when to say it. This was very helpful. Thank you.

    And I am so saddened to hear about your loss. 🙁
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  14. I love *listening* to you talk about your girls. It’s so very apparent they were loved and are loved still. What a powerful, important post. I’m one who never knows quite what to say, but as you listed…just being there is okay too. Big hugs to you.
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  15. Michelle, thank you for stopping by my blog today so I could find yours. This post makes my heart ache; my greatest fear is losing one of my children. Thank you for these thoughtful suggestions from your own experience.
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  16. SO helpful… My heart breaks and mourns for moms who have lost. Thank you for this post.
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  17. You are amazing dear friend! xo

  18. well said. really.

    11.5 years ago i had a son born into heaven when i was 14.5 weeks pregnant. i held him in my hand, buried him, and have missed him since.

    at the time i received very little tenderness from my christian community. a friend had almost a year earlier lost a baby full term, and i think to our community my loss paled in comparison. because of that i struggled with feeling permission to grieve my son.

    BUT GOD. He gave me permission, comforted, and magnified His grace in many intimate ways.

    He’s also lead me to not compare one mans story to another, but to always extend compassion and tenderness.
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  19. Beautiful, thoughtful, and true words. Thank you for your courage in sharing and for spreading this message… I agree with every last one of them – and especially the idea that there are ways for people to help, not just from afar, but with an honest “I don’t know” and being there. And thank you for your picture – about to pin! Will definitely be referring to this post!
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  20. Wow, Michelle. I have no words. Thank you for sharing such a life-giving post from a place of loss and hurt. Hugs to you!
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  21. This is such a powerful post Michelle and I KNOW women out there will benefit from you. You are such a beautiful soul and a wonderful mother.
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  22. I do hope I never need this but I am so glad you wrote it. Thank you for inspiring and guiding us.
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  23. I LOVE this post. And your blog is beautiful. I’ve always wanted to write a post like this, give moms help in comforting those who mourn but I’ve only been on the comforting end and would have to interview moms to write it. Thank you for sharing. I will tweet this. Visiting from Sharefest.

  24. Thank you for this post. Having been gone through a miscarriage, a friend that had a loss right after birth, these suggestions are so on point. Thank you. Stopping in from SITS.
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  25. This was a great post. I have a daughter who would be three. She was born sleeping just four days before my due date, for reasons I’ll never know. I experienced my healthiest pregnancy with her. I have felt such hurt by words I’ve heard from others but I realized they didn’t know what or how to say. I still am taking it one day at a time. I am learning to live with my loss, always trusting God’s plan, and hoping to be an encouragement to other mothers in mourning.
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  26. My brother just lost their baby 3 weeks before their due date. I am so overcome with grief and feel so helpless in how to help. I was so scared to talk to him and when I did I felt no words could help so I just cried with him and told them how I lov ed them. I want to do more do you have any advice?

  27. Dear Michelle,
    I was hoping to find strength and succour everywhere after my third abdominal surgery on Dec 1 2014, the last two involving emergency procedures for ectopic pregnancy. I am recovering slowly but still mentally devastated and socially withdrawn. My heart goes out to you after reading this post and I’m sending your way tonnes of blessings and gratitude for being a part of my healing process from far away India. Life doesn’t get anymore incredible at times like these. Your grief was tonnes heavier than mine, I can only imagine. And yet not only you survived the ordeal, but reached out later to spread helpful words that act like salve to a tormented soul. Thanks a million. God bless.

  28. I lost my beautiful son two weeks ago today. He was 15 days old. It hurts so much! I look around and I only see what I canoot see and it hurts tremendously.
    Your words somehow help think of a time when I will be able to remember without being so devastated.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Angela shares how to help a friend going through infertility here and Michelle shares “10 Ways To Help A Mom in Mourning” here […]

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