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How to Love & Support a Loss Mom

How to Love & Support a Loss Mom

    Recently I asked the community of loss of Moms on Instagram this question: What was the most loving or thoughtful thing someone did for you after a loss?  I know there have been a number of blog posts written on this but its helpful to hear a variety of answers….  Below you will find some of these answers. There are many practical things you can do such as meals & child care but please also consider how to support the mom on an emotional level. One theme that stood out was allowing the mom to talk/cry, asking them about their heavenly baby. The most hurtful thing is pretending nothing happened and staying away from the mom or not asking her how she is and talking about the baby who died.

This response in particular stood out:  “There were many wonderful ways friends and family loved me during this time but the one that always sticks out is my friend who said “I don’t know what to say to you. I love you, I want to be here for you in any and every way. But I have no clue what to say and what not to say. I never want to hurt you so if anything I say or do offends or crosses a boundary please tell me.” Her honesty meant the world to me. Especially when I was getting a lot of cliché saying spat at me.”

This response was one of the sweetest, most thoughtful example of helping practically:     “After we lost our son at 39 weeks, we were suddenly thrown into funeral planning. Being postpartum on top of that, I could barely walk (we live in Manhattan) and nothing fit well since I had just given birth. A dear friend went shopping for me, bringing me a dozen different dresses, as well accessories, and she would return what I didn't choose. This allowed me to try on clothes for my son's funeral in the privacy of my home, as tears washed over me. I was so grateful for this tangible gift in such a hard time”

Here are more responses. I underlined key ideas that stood out.

“With my first miscarriage my mom and sister came and cleaned my house. It meant so much to me to be able to rest and relax after having a d&c. With my stillbirth, I was incredibly grateful that my mom watched my toddler for at least a few hours pretty much daily for a week or two. This gave me time to rest and time to grieve however I needed, without scaring my toddler. I also received a self care package from a couple of friends. That really helped me remember to take care of myself, even if it was just taking a shower to use the new shampoo they got me. It was nice to receive something other than flowers. Also another huge one is food! My cousin bought us a meal and brought it over. I was very thankful for that!!!”

“Something mama can wear in honor of her baby, birthstone jewelry etc. I also had a friend make an appt and take me to have a facial/spa day after my daughter was stillborn. She got me out of the house and pampered me, she listened-I got to tell her the whole story and cried along with me. I will never forget the way she loved on me💜”

“Saying my son’s name and continuing to check in on me

 “My best friend came over after we got back from hospital and she brought us food, wine, treats for our dog, but what mattered most was she sat with me and asked about my daughter, about delivery, and wanted to see her. It meant the world to me and felt good to release some of it from my shoulders. She really has and continues to carry it with me ❤️ sitting and listening.”

 “My closest friends all brought us food or gift cards to restaurants after we lost our daughter, which we really appreciated. But the biggest thing was when family or friends asked how I was doing even months later....they realized the grieving process was long and weren't afraid to bring up the subject when many others had moved on or assumed I was fine

“A friend set up a meal train for us. People brought food for days...they didn’t linger when they dropped off food. Just held me and said how much they loved me, my husband and Lorelai. No one asked what happened just showed us love and support. My best friend brought us ice cream and some unicorn slippers for me which i wear to this day. It’s the little things that are the big things. And just giving us time alone was a big thing. I’m so grateful for that to this day!💗”

“Meal train, donating to Star Legacy Foundation in honor of Oliver, donations for expenses, gifts/items in honor of Oliver (necklace, Christmas ornament, wind chime), books, saying Oliver's name and letting me know he's being thought about/ remembered, lots of hugs, just sitting with me in my devastation, not expecting me to be the same person.”

 “What a beautiful friend you have to know exactly what needed to be done and she just went ahead and did it. My stillbirth occurred at 38 weeks and was two days after my baby shower. My best friend came over and hid all of the baby gifts strewn about that I had received in a closet so that I wouldn’t see them the first thing when I got home from the hospital. Also, someone to walk my dog, when I couldn’t even leave my apartment. What everyone has said already rings true for me as well. Meals, allowing me time to grieve (my dear boss let me take 5 months off - I was very fortunate). Letting me say her name and including her name in Christmas cards and remembering her birth date.”

 “With our missed miscarriage the most thoughtful thing was when my sisters put together a care package for me... they knew how badly I was hurting and after surgery I came home to that and plants from other family members. My family also sat in the waiting room while I had surgery and that meant more than they will ever know.. I know how much that upsets them. After our infant daughter passed away the most thoughtful things have just been saying her name and letting us share her story 💕 most of our family is selfless and let’s us grieve but there are others who try to make it about them.. but it’s truly about our daughter 💕”

 “On telling my close friend my little girl Amber had been born sleeping she came to the hospital the day after with shopping bags full of new underwear, pyjamas, magazines, snacks and toiletries. And even stuff for my partner too. She helped me walk to the chapel and stayed for as long as I needed which meant so much 💖”

 “Our son stop breathing at 9 month old they were able to revive him and had for another 14months . Doing that time and the time after his death . The love people have shown us was truly a blessing. Meals , prayer cards , babysitter my kids, a bear made from my son clothes. It wasn’t so much one thing but knowing other people care touch us the most .”

 “Meal train for a month after delivering our stillborn son at 35 weeks! Also, a dear friend just showed up with a week’s worth of groceries for breakfast and lunches (since meal train was for dinner). She got stuff for sandwiches - those prewashed ready to go lettuce leaves, and even mayo and mustard. And when she brought over flowers, she cut and put in a vase for me.”

 “Just show up. Even if you don’t know what to do or what to say, just show up. Be there. Be present. We had three very different losses and even though my sister was three hours away she showed up with her children who crawled in bed with me (I know that might not be comfortable for everyone). But after they were gone no one else showed up. None of my friends. Not even the ones who had also been through loss. It tore in to my already broken heart. So if I can suggest anything to those whose friends or loved ones lose their baby, just show up. Hold their hand. Hug them. Cry with them. Then maybe look around and see if their is something tangible you can do to be helpful but please just show up. ️”

 “My sister in law is the best. Honoring our girl on holidays and anniversaries. Saying her name, Everly. In the early days asking what would be helpful ‘today’. Knowing that what I wanted/needed/felt was (still is) ever changing. Sending texts “I’m thinking of you. I’m here if you want to talk but don’t feel obligated to reply”

 “When our son was stillborn at 20 weeks the people who sent flowers to his funeral, and the ones who quietly dropped off meals without expecting a visit in return (I hemorrhaged horrifically and was unable to walk or stay awake for a week and we had 2 young children at the time and we were also moving) but that was what spoke to me most. When I miscarried our next son, hearing his name when people asked “how are you doing after losing Ricky?” Was very uplifting to me!”

 “My friends left food parcels in our porch. They didn't knock or anything. They left them there, then sent us a msg to tell us. They all felt so helpless and knew there was nothing they could say or do to help ease our pain. But leaving those food parcels without expecting an invite into the house really helped us more than they will ever know, especially when we didn't feel like eating never mind cooking a meal ourselves.”

 “After our son’s stillbirth, the most memorable thing someone did was create space for conversation. So many were afraid to talk to us and didn’t know what to say or do. Those willing to brave the dark with us helped so much. Another sweet friend sent us a family night care package to enjoy with our then 2 year old another sent a sweet necklace with his birthstone. Our parents took our toddler on adventures to give us time alone to process. Meal trains are helpful too. 💙”

 “A lovely, hand written card. It was these cards that helped me to move along in the grieving process. People acknowledging each of our baby’s lives, it meant a great deal. We have four babies in heaven. I have kept these cards along with the ultrasound photos. Just knowing that our family and friends were thinking of us was so very kind and loving. Flowers were also a really nice gesture. And we have these flowers dried and throughout our house. 💕🙏”

 “A month or so later, a friend brought me a sunshine box. It had lemon muffin mix in it, a yellow whisk, lemonade, yellow eye masks, yellow nail polish (lol!), and a yellow book of words of comfort. She told me that she wanted me to know I was loved and that it was ok to be sad. She has had over 30 miscarriages herself, and I love that she served me like she did.”

 “We lost our first baby about a month and 5 days ago. He was delivered at 16 weeks, so beautiful and perfect. Never in a million years would I have ever thought I would feel such heartache in my life. Like many, I never thought this would happen to us. Unfortunately ... it did. But having amazing people that are supportive and kind helps with the grief. Even just being there to listen makes a world of a difference!”

“However, there is a particular person in my life that showed care and generosity like I have never seen before. This person is my co-worker and friend. I have only met her around November but clicked instantly. On a day when I felt extremely, sad, jealous, angry and depressed she messaged me and sent me a certificate of registry of a star named after our son Damian. I was speechless!!! It was such a beautiful act of kindness. This stranger did something so amazing and truly lifted my spirits up. Now when I look up in the sky at night my heart fills a little more. 🤍💙👼🏻”

 “I found out I was experiencing a loss two days before I was gonna do a photo shoot with a photographer who was creating a portfolio called the “last latch” it was for mamas at all different stages commemorating the ending of their breastfeeding journeys. I had to cancel due to being in the hospital. The photographer & I had never actually met other than through social media and emails. Well when she realized I had to cancel she sent me a box of goodies from a company. It had fuzzy socks, a journal, a necklace for remembrance, heating pad, a few other things with a hand written note sharing with me her own experience. I had never felt so connected with someone in my life and ultimately she was a stranger. I’ll never forget or be more grateful for her kindness.”

 “I absolutely love what you do! We had a missed-miscarriage almost a year ago now. We found out we had miscarried when I was 10 weeks pregnant but our little one only measured five weeks and there was no heart beat at our first ultrasound. My husband and I teach a musical theater program, and a mother of one of our students put together a family night care package for us. Our first daughter was almost two at the time, and the care package had a family friendly movie (the classic Winnie the Pooh), yummy snacks like Nutella pretzels, fruit snacks, and popcorn, and a gift card to order pizza. I had no idea how much it would mean to me and us to have that family night with those things a few days after I miscarried. It was so thoughtful and helped bring some much needed healing at a very painful time. 💖”

 “The dear family and friends who cried with me. Some knew the same loss, some had suffered deeper heart aches, but all were respectful and kind in their condolences to us. If they didn't know what to say they embraced us anyway and prayed for us and loved on us. We were showered with so many meals that I didn't have to cook for days. It was a huge relief for me not to have to worry about cooking dinner.”

 “Through all 5 of my miscarries I had one friend that would always bring me a little something, like fuzzy socks, chocolates, flowers, etc. More than the goodies she never said any of the cliche things to me. It is so simple to do and meant so much.”

 “Being told that it wasn’t my fault we’re words that helped heal; also, having people let you know that they’re praying for you.”

 “My son Gabriel was stillborn at 39 weeks. The most loving thing people did was put their own discomfort aside and just listen to his (our) story. Some days I didn’t want to say much about it, especially early-on. But some days I do find comfort in showing photos and telling his death/birth story. Even though he’s not here, he’s still a huge part of my life, and by talking about him I keep his memory alive.”

 “After our stillbirth, our friends (who had also lost a child) traveled out of state to attend the small graveside service we had for our son. They took us out for dinner that evening, bought our other boys gifts, and just loved on us. In that moment it was just what we needed. There have been others that have opened their hearts and made space for us to express how we're doing or have blessed us with special momentos, but that act of love and friendship stands out to me.”

 “Saying my daughter’s name after our unexpected loss at birth. Letting me talk about her and grieve openly. Coming home from the hospital to find the nursery and everything in my room packed away so that I didn’t have to see the empty crib and all her cute clothes laid out. People acknowledging I have 3 children. Also, someone got a bunch of people together to give us Uber eats gift cards so that over the next several months I didn’t have to cook if I was having a really rough day.”

 “My son was stillborn at 38 weeks, and he and I share a birthday. Our best friends brought me a piece of birthday cake to the hospital. My sister and brother-in-law went to our house and put our boy’s stuff that was all over the house into his room, so we wouldn’t have those reminders until we were ready. My mom and mother-in-law stayed with us and just did everything from mowing the lawn to cooking and reminding us to eat. Anything difficult, like calling the daycare to give our spot back, picking his urn, even just getting the mail since we were getting so many samples, they did it. And mostly, everyone in my life just messaging me, talking about my son, letting me help mother their children, and being open to listen, and to take constructive criticism when I say their words aren’t helpful. My husband I have an amazing support system.”

 “The most loving thing done for me has been my friend telling me how much of a good mom I am. Once I talked about my loss to her she said she knows that Lucas knows how much I love him and he loves me too. Whenever we talk she asks how I’m doing and if he’s visited me in a dream again because she knows those are my favorite moments. Just listening with no judgement or insensitive comments has been a blessing.”

  “I had a c-section so I was in hospital for three days, a friend printed a few pictures of Grayson before he passed away and brought them to me at the hospital. I loved looking at photos of him immediately ❤️ Another friend brought me a lamb stuffed animal to the hospital, she said “I just wanted you to have something to hold” ❤️ my mom booked an at home massage for me so I could try and relax but not have to actually leave the house ❤️ Graysons first birthday, when I went to the grave there were lots of notes and flowers from others who had already visited that day.”

 “Being able to talk about my loss and not made to feel awkward about it.
Others who shared about their loss with me and allowed me to not feel alone.”

 “My sisters/mom stayed with us at the hospital for our entire stay (labor, delivery, post-partum) & just encouraged me to cry, to eat (they brought snacks), rubbed my back, braided my hair, prayed prayed prayed.”

 "Following our son’s stillbirth, just allowing me to talk about it. I wanted people to know our birth story, even though the ending wasn’t the normal ending, I was still proud of the baby I carried and giving birth to him. The friends and family who let me tell that story and asked for that story and called me a mom, it meant so much. Friends who continue to bring up our son and call him by his name. It’s almost been a year, and people allow and accept that we are still grieving and will never be the same people again, and that’s okay. Besides the helpful things in the short term following the loss, remembering the day of each month and reaching out. One of my best friends did a random act of kindness in our son’s honor and got a bunch of people to take part in it, too. That means the world to me. My other friends all purchased a beautiful emerald necklace (his birthstone) for me and I wear it daily. Just little things that make me remember that others remember him and not just me and my husband. Love that you’re doing this!”

 “I was blessed with 2 friends who just sat there and listened to me cry. After my third miscarriage both friends, not knowing what the other was doing, bought jewelry to honor my three babes. One necklace had the initials of our babies and the other had an inspirational quote. They both magically arrived together and I cried at them both. So many times miscarriages aren't talked about after the fact so we lose that safety in talking about missing our babies and the pain that lingers. Those pieces of jewelry made them tangible for me. I see their initials and remember the time I had with all of them. 💕”

 

Photo by Briana Tozour on Unsplash

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lisa Giordano

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