Finding support after losing your child can be difficult for many reasons. They range from people not understanding what you are going through, to not wanting to open up and let people into your grief, or even not knowing where to begin to go for support. I knew if we were going to survive the stillbirth of our son, Mateo, we would need the support of others. Immediately I began reaching out. We found support in God and faith, family and friends, support groups, each other, and a faith community.
I knew immediately if we were going to make it through losing our son, it would be through God’s strength alone. Moments before we learned our son’s heart had stopped beating in utero, I heard the Holy Spirit whisper inside my heart, “David, even if your son is dead, God is still sovereign and He is still good.” I took these words to heart and leaned into God during our time of loss and grieving. I prayed a lot. I cried out to God. I got angry with God. I screamed at God. I prayed some more. And while I never got the ultimate answer from God as to why my son passed, I found strength and healing in seeking God through faith after losing Mateo. I found a peace which transcends all understanding in Jesus.
Our family and close friends were there to support us. Many of them did not know what to say. Most people, unless they have experienced the same thing, don’t know what to say. But it was comforting to have people to sit with us, cry with us, and listen. Sometimes it got overwhelming having people around, and we needed to be alone to grieve. Family helped us with funeral and memorial service arrangements, friends cooked our meals, and others simply listened. It may seem natural to want to withdraw immediately after losing a child and to isolate yourself, but I encourage you to seek the love and friendship of close trusted friends and family. Many people are willing and want to help or be there for you, but they just don’t know how. People may not be able to bring your son or daughter back or completely empathize with you from personal experience, but they can cook or buy you a meal, help you with laundry, and help you do the day to day living that seems so hard immediately following the loss of a child.
My wife and I went to a couple support groups for child loss. One was at a local hospital for parents who had lost a child to stillbirth. It was called Heartprints. We didn’t share much when we went; however, it felt comforting to know we weren’t alone. Others knew the way and knew our pain. We also found resources and talked with people from Share Pregnancy & Infant Support Loss. This is a national nonprofit organization, but its headquarters is near St. Louis, where we live. They offer support groups throughout the country and printed materials on grief after losing an infant or pregnancy. Many people have found groups like Heartprints or Share to be vital for support after losing a pregnancy or a child.
My wife was my greatest support after losing our son. I could not have survived without her love, her devotion and her strength. We leaned into each other in a way that we had never done before. We cared for another, and encouraged another, carrying each other’s burdens. Maybe you’re not married and you’re going through this loss alone. Perhaps your spouse or significant other isn’t the most supportive person for you. I would encourage to seek out a close friend, a trusted family member, or even a counselor and pour your heart out. People aren’t meant to carry sorrow and pain alone. People need other people.
Finally, we found support in a local faith community, for us that was a church. Faith and spiritual communities can be great places to find support after a loss. Even if you’re not “religious”, many communities will embrace people who are suffering. Open yourself up to being known and letting others in to help support you during your time of grief and healing.
Support after the loss of a pregnancy or child is crucial to survival and living again. Don’t try to do this alone. Ask for help. If you don’t get the support you need at first, keep asking and seeking. It’s so worth it.
Photo Credit: Joey Yu, Unsplash