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.

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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Today is Much Ado Monday. Won’t you link up with me? Please share your family-friendly post below. Be sure to visit and comment on a few of the other participating blogs {we all love to make friends!}, and please link back to tll. Please consider sharing MAM on Facebook or Twitter, too … let’s see if we can grow this community.

Much A

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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Thankful for Thursday, and VapoRub

Thankful for Thursday, and VapoRub

The Boy is back to school today.

And after our day yesterday, I’m thankful for so many little everyday reasons.

I’m thankful {mostly} that my son doesn’t slow down for much … that he powers through a head cold and says with stuffy nose, “I feel great, Mom!”  and is eager to get back to class.Born in China 2017 film download

I’m thankful for the little bit of stolen time we got. A slower morning and a commute to the doctor’s office allowed us to catch up on the current state of espionage {he took out 6 or 7 books from the library on the topic … all boy, that kid} and how lower case b’s and d’s are confusing.

I’m thankful that he’s got a Nonna and Papa who were thrilled at an impromptu quick visit that ended with him spending a good portion of the afternoon in their care. Nonna made his favorite homemade soup with cheese squares and Papa played while I headed a few towns south to see my own dad and get him ready for some snow.

Aren’t grandparents wonderful?

I’m thankful that I have the means to provide relief for my child when he’s not feeling well, even if it simply means a working cool mist humidifier and this stuff … manna from Heaven in blue plastic, I tell you. Just the smell of VapoRub starts making me feel better when I’m sick … what is it about the stuff?

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Feeling especially blessed, too, that it’s just the sniffles and a head cold, and that my boy enjoys good health and a strong little body more often than not.

And on a different note, I’m thankful also for the calm before the supposed storm.

It may or may not happen — meteorologists have been known to be wrong — but yesterday afternoon was so beautiful that it almost seemed unlikely that 1 to 2 feet of snow was on its way. I was grabbing the mail and noticed this birch at the end of my driveway.

Look at that white against blue.

Just beautiful.

What simple things are you thankful for today?

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Linking up today with …

Thankful Thursdays @ Black Tag Diaries . Loved and Lovely . Jessie Loves To Run . The Fontenot Four . The Marathon Mom . A Body That Won’t Break, Oh So Thankful @ Lovely Little Whimsy, and the Oh Happy Day party at None Done Growing

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