Watching a friend experience the loss of their baby and the grief that remains can feel so helpless. Unfortunately, there isn’t a “one-size fits all” approach to support a grieving friend through loss, but there are many ways to be supportive. When my daughter died at 33-days-old, it was the first loss of this type…
Every holiday season I receive numerous emails from people wanting to know how they can help to ease the pain that their loved ones are suffering as they have to face what should be a magical time, without their children.
There are so many things you could do to help ease your friend or loved one’s pain. Here are a few things you may find helpful.
ACCEPT. Firstly, accept that your friend or loved one may not feel up to participating in family gatherings or traditions. Be patient with them and give them time and space. I know Christmas may not be the same without them but if you really want the best for your loved one, please allow them to hibernate if that is what they need to do. Facing traditions when things should be so different is such a difficult thing to go through. You cannot possibly understand unless you have been there yourself.
ACKNOWLEDGE. Make sure that in your Christmas or holiday card to your loved one that you mention their child’s name. This will mean the world to them. If you do not know what to say, simply write “Remembering …………………. with you always”. Our first Christmas without our son was made more bearable because of the love and kindness that was shown to our family. An old friend sent me a Christmas card. Inside the card my friend had taken the time to tell me that even though she never met Christian, he changed her life. His short life opened her eyes to how precious this life really is. I cannot tell you how much that meant to me. The wonderful things about cards is that you can pour your heart out without having to face the person receiving the card. The person can also keep your words and love forever. If you are not able to see your friend on Christmas Day think about giving them a call or sending them a simple text to let them know that you are thinking of them and their child.
SPEAK THEIR NAME. Do not be afraid to speak their child’s name out aloud. You are not reminding them that their child died. They did not forget. More than often a bereaved parent just wants to make sure that their child is not forgotten, so hearing their child’s name come from the mouths of others is the most beautiful Christmas Carol they could ever hear.
HONOUR. There are many things you could do in memory for your friend’s baby. You could buy them a special Christmas ornament with their child’s name. You could light a candle for their child and photograph it for the family, better still you could give the family a special candle in memory of their child. You could visit the child’s grave site and leave flowers or some special coloured Christmas fairy dust. Write the child a little card and leave it there for the family to find. This would be such a gift to them.
DONATE. Make a donation to a charity in their child’s memory. Find out if the family has a favourite charity or give a gift to a child in need.
BE GRATEFUL. Hearing a parent complain about the hardships of being a parent is truly one of the most painful experiences for a parent who cannot raise their child here on Earth. If your bereaved loved one attends the family gathering, chances are this took a lot of courage. Be grateful for them and be grateful for all the gifts in your life that you have. If you have children of your own, maybe choose to keep to yourself any negative stories about how you were up all night with them or how hard your day was. Your feelings are true, looking after children is hard. I am not saying that it isn’t – trust me, I know how hard it is, but your loved one would give anything to stay up all night with their child. There is a quote that says “The things you take for granted, someone else is praying for”. There is such truth in this quote.
SHOW COMPASSION. So much of the time when people see a bereaved person upset, they try to say something to them to make the situation better. This can sometimes end in disaster because saying something that you might think is helpful, is actually the opposite. An example of this is “She is in a better place”. Their child should be with them at Christmas time, not anywhere else. The truth is that you cannot make this situation any better. Nobody can. Instead of trying to say something to make them feel better, just give them a hug. Acknowledge that the situation is really awful. It is okay to do this. Tell your loved one that they are loved and held and that you are there to listen to them if they want to talk, cry, vent etc. Sit with them for however long they need you there. This will more than likely be a welcomed surprise as so often us bereaved parents find ourselves in places where people are trying to give us their advice or ignore us completely. We don’t need advice, we just need a hug.
All in all there are so many things you could do to help ease the pain for your loved one this holiday season, but the most important thing to do is to acknowledge their child. This is the greatest gift you could give them. If you can accomplish even just one of the ideas above you will make a positive difference in your loved one’s life.
Thank you for taking the time to do some research into this very important subject. By doing this, you are helping a community of bereaved families from all over the world to break the silence surrounding the death of babies and children. We all need more friends like you! Wishing you lots of love and blessings for the holiday season.