Suggestions for families and friends of grieving parents - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 69 Old 04-03-2004, 01:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I think many of us find it hard when people around us don't understand (or try to understand) pregnancy and birth loss.

What do all of you think of writing a community letter that we can use as a sticky in this forum? This letter would be for people coming here trying to learn or for grieving momma's to print off and send to friends and family.

I'll start with some ideas. Everyone please post yours, and then we'll brainstorm together as a community.

Dear friend and family;

Someone dear to you has recently lost a child before birth. This is a very unique loss and many don't know what to say or do.

Hopefully this letter will answer some of your questions so that you can give the support that is needed.

{Then we could maybe list some 'do's and don't to say like}

Do
·Call the baby by name (if it was named) - this validates the parents and the love that they have for their child.
·Send a card, flowers or a note of support
·Call the couple and ask how they’re feeling
·Bring up the baby – you won’t cause them to be sad, they’re already sad and need to talk about it.

Don’t
·Say they have an angle in heaven – many parents wanted that angle here on earth
·Say it was ‘God’s will’. Even if the person is deeply spiritual, this can leave them feeling angry or questioning.
·Clean the babies room out without their permission – it’s natural for family and friends to want to do this while the mother is healing, but the couple needs to do this together.
·Tell them the can just have another or at least they can get pregnant – comments like this really hurt! Even if they do have another baby, they wanted THIS baby and have the right to be sad and mourn the loss.


This is just a quick draft (I’m typing while making lunches). All comments and suggestions are welcome here!
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#2 of 69 Old 04-03-2004, 07:30 PM
 
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Ms Mom,
I think this is a great idea. It will also save us from having to re-type the same things over and over again.

I only want to add a thing or two for now and I'll add more later:

Do recognize that the child that died was a person (even if s/he was not born).

Don't say anything to the grieving parents that you wouldn't say to someone who had lost an adult.
For example- would you say to someone who's mom had died: "You can get another mom."

People mostly say "It was God's will. or "God has a plan." when they really don't have anything else to say or simply can't understand it. Besides the issues that Ms.Mom brought up, it also is not something people routinely say when other kinds of bad things happen to people. For example, my friend's parents nearly died in a fire in their house. Would that statement bring comfort to her? If someone gets hit by a car, do people say that to them? Obviously, not.

Don't ask the person "what happened"? or badger them for specific details about their loss.
Follow her lead and if she shares, listen, but don't ask for reasons that may not actually be there. For example:
Me: "My baby died while I was 9 months pregnant."
Person: "OMG. What happened?"
Me: "He just died. There was no cause found."
Person: "What??? You weren't sick? What did your doctors' say? There wasn't anything wrong all along?" etc etc etc.

This is such a timely thread for me. People need to freakin' GET A CLUE! (and hopefully people will, from this thread, but not the people who really need to hear it.)
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#3 of 69 Old 04-03-2004, 08:23 PM
 
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I think this is a wonderful idea. Some random thoughts from me too.

Could maybe put in something about how not to try to equate them losing their child to you losing your 90 yr old granny who has just died peacefully in her sleep. Well maybe not that extreme, but don't go telling them about all the other ppl you know who've had relatives die recently - especially other very young children or babies. The other thing is not to try to cheer the grieving parents up with statements like "well it would have been worse if he/she had died when they were 2". Definitely validate that the baby was a baby.

If it was relatively early on in the pg, like first or second trimester, don't ask them if they knew if the baby was a boy or a girl. They will tell you if they want.

Don't ask if they think they're going to try again.

Don't just pretend nothing has happened.

Do you think we could have a subsection for pregnant woman who have friends who they were pregnant with who lost babies as it will be an ongoing thing for them.

Do remember to keep asking how they are after the initial month or so after the loss.

Do remember birthdays/anniversaries of the loss.

Don't tell them at least they have other children, if they do.

re: what to send. I think I saw somewhere someone sells pregnancy loss gift hampers. That sounds really crass like that but it was things like a nourishing herbal tea, bath oils with soothing aromas etc. Maybe a rose or some other flower/tree that flowers seasonally when the baby died would be a nice present. If the baby was of sufficient age where you would have got momentoes(sp?) a special box to keep them in or a photo frame for pictures of the baby.
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#4 of 69 Old 04-03-2004, 09:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Excellent ideas! I'm excited now.

ST, I agree about not having to type it all out over and over. I've actually been thinking about this for a long time. I'll try to poke throught some past threads as well.

OM, beautiful ideas where have you been! I was about to email you! I've missed you so much!!!
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#5 of 69 Old 04-03-2004, 10:02 PM
 
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please don't say that it was all for the best as the baby probably had something wrong with it. or that this was natures way of keeping a less than perfect baby from being born.

the baby was still wanted even if it wasn't "perfect"
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#6 of 69 Old 04-03-2004, 11:29 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Arduinna, I completely agree

Catherine, great ideas. Yes, I think we should focus more on the 'do's' partly because most people are uncomfortable. They want to know what they 'can' do to help.

I also think talking to family and friends is an excellent idea. This will truly be a community effort.
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#7 of 69 Old 04-03-2004, 11:52 PM
 
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Jacque, this is a great idea.

I'm concerned that our letter might have such a long list of "don'ts" that people will be overwhelmed by all the possible ways they could hurt the grieving parents, and not say anything.

Maybe we could focus on the general idea that expressing genuine concern is the best way to go, not ignoring it. I found that if friends or family were truly concerned, they could actually say some of the classic "don'ts" but it didn't hurt because I could feel their concern. What was so much worse were the people who said nothing and ignored my loss. We could have a nice, long list of "do's" so people will feel encouraged, like there are lots of things they can say that would be helpful. And maybe three or four of the major don'ts, which I would consider to be:

"It was God's will" (and all the variations, like "Jesus needed another angel" etc,)

"You have other children" or "You can have other children"

"I know just how you're feeling" (which I don't think is ever appropriate, even coming from someone who's lost a baby. Of course, I've noticed that I've never heard someone who's lost a baby tell me they know just how I feel, they just hug me and cry with me, because they know that's what I need...)

I'll try to think of more of the do's and post later...

Edited to add: Now that I just re-read this thread, I agree with all the other "don'ts"--they're all so hurtful! Maybe we can get some input from friends and family members as to what type of letter would be most helpful for them. Would they be overwhelmed by too many "don'ts"?
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#8 of 69 Old 04-04-2004, 11:03 AM
 
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This is a good idea, I had started a thread a while back asking what has helped or not helped, there may be more ideas there. Just a personal note on sending flowers... I was sent flowers after my first m/c and became horribly depressed when they died. It's hard to say because maybe it helped me process my loss. I like the idea of a live plant.
One thing on the do list. Ask the person if there is anything you can do. Offer to notify others. Bring a meal over. Take any children the mom may have out for the day. Offer to just come over and sit with them, let them know they don't have to talk if they don't want to.
On the don't list. I don't think it can be stressed enough to NOT use the "God's will" line. That is my MIL's favorite line, she used it again on me last weekend and I responded with if Steve (dh) or Ron (her dh) got hit by a bus and killed tomorrow morning, would you take comfort in knowing it's God's will?? At that point she admitted she hadn't thought of it that way.
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#9 of 69 Old 04-04-2004, 11:23 AM
 
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Ms. Mom,

I dont have anything add, but wanted to say I think its a great idea and very sweet of you to do this.
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#10 of 69 Old 04-05-2004, 05:19 PM
 
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I wanted to add some things to.

Do remember the father has lost a child as well. Everyone focuses so much energy on the mother, and the mother needs it, but fathers also mourn the loss of their children. Dh was heartbroken when Arawyn died, and he was also so distraught over trying to care for me, that I don't know if his needs were ever really met. Even his own family concentrated more on comforting me. He really could have used more people asking how he was doing or just sitting and talking with him.

I also wanted to add some good gift ideas. I really like the star registry if the child was named, but also donations to special charities in the babies name are great to, maybe a stillbirth awareness organization or a childrens hospital. There are several sites that sell mementos such as birth certificates, and teddy bears designed for greiving parents so those might be good too. www.aplacetoremember.com has a full online store of memorial items for pregnancy and birth loss.

I would also like to reiterate the importance of using the baby's name if he or she was named. And never refer to the miscariage or still birth as an abortion even though that is the medical term, or the phrase I hate "that thing that happened to you."

I think thats about all I have.
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#11 of 69 Old 04-05-2004, 11:10 PM
 
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Excellent point Shannon (other Shannon) I knew I was forgetting something.
I felt so badly for Steve during all of my m/c's, I was not strong enough personally to help him and everyone kind of ignored his feelings about it. I know he was devastated and frankly it didn't come out how devastated he was until we had a completely stupid fight one night and I finally figured out what had him so upset, he cried with me for over an hour and I feel so badly that he didn't feel he could grieve publicly earlier.
Anyone have ideas on a way to help the dads?
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#12 of 69 Old 04-06-2004, 01:03 AM
 
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I think we should maybe refer to the "father" as the partner as not all non-pregnant partners are male. But yeah. I was thinkng how the other partner who has lost a baby probably is in need of some tlc as well.

One other thing. If they have internet access, direct them to this board.
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#13 of 69 Old 04-07-2004, 12:13 AM
 
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great idea...

my only comment would be to keep it short and to the point (ie. the top 5 things one can do to help). during my miscarriage i researched and sent my family a long list i found of do's and don'ts thinking it would help. i think there was too much there and it never really got paid attention to, and i think with the negatives listed first everyone was scared to do the wrong thing. so instead of it helping me to not deal with all the comments i got them anyways and was also pissed off by the fact that during my time of grief i did the work they should have done and all for nothing

tara
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#14 of 69 Old 04-07-2004, 04:26 PM
 
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What a wonderful idea.....my ideas have already been suggested, so this will be a bit redundant, but here is my opinion:

DO definitely keep things short and to the point
DO say you're sorry for the loss
DO ask how my husband is feeling
DO tell me that my baby will be remembered and loved

DON'T try to act as though nothing happened
DON'T say you know how I feel unless you've been there
DON'T go on about how horrible this was to have happened
DON'T talk to my child about it without my permission and under my supervision
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#15 of 69 Old 04-09-2004, 12:44 AM
 
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Jacque,

What a great idea. We fortunately had very few don'ts, so I will add my do's that I especially appreciated:

DO offer to babysit, esp during labor/delivery and the funeral if there is one
DO keep a list of who brought meals, sent flowers, etc. so that the parents don't have to and thank you's are easier to write (This was a lifesaver for me--I got a neatly organized list of everyone who helped out even though I wasn't there to see who did it. It also reaffirmed to me how much I was loved ) when I needed it
DO bring meals with "comfort foods" and favorites if you know them
DO offer to make the phone calls
DO remember the two best things to say--I'm so sorry and I love you (followed by a hug and kiss if appropriate)
DO say it's okay to be mad/sad/feel like throwing things/jealous of pregnant women or those with newborns
DO offer to help with expenses if appropriate (our church donated the money for our 3 very expensive plane tickets as Samantha's burial was out of state)

and finally, I know different people have different reactions to this, but I got a lot of comfort from people telling me of their own losses. Particularly from some elderly friends--they were 85 at the time--who told me with tears in their eyes that they also lost their second child. It meant a great deal to me that they still remembered her after all these years and that they had survived it.
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#16 of 69 Old 04-09-2004, 06:13 AM
 
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I just wanted to say I think this is a wonderful, wonderful idea.

And, even though it's already been said, for the do's, do hug and kiss and express words of love to the parents who have lost. I found it really nice to be held, and to feel loved. I felt so lost and like such a child myself, it was so nice to lean on someone stronger.
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#17 of 69 Old 04-27-2004, 10:56 PM
 
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#18 of 69 Old 04-27-2004, 11:05 PM
 
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I agree with so many of the things already listed. Do remember the partners. I know my dh was mourning and my needs were more readily attended to.
Do know that an early loss is a loss.
It hasn't gone away in a week. Don't act like everything is life as usual.
Do offer to watch any other children and let the parents mourn and rest.
I received two cards. They were sweet and beautiful and validated my feelings. Hug and love the parents and say you are sorry for the loss. Short and sweet words are dear to my heart.
Thanks for starting this thread.
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#19 of 69 Old 04-28-2004, 02:07 AM
 
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Do feel free to say

"I'm so sorry for your loss. I can only imagine that this is difficult for you"

"Please know you can talk to me at any time"

"Is there anything I can do? If you think of something later, let me know."

"I was looking forward to meeting your little one, I'm sorry that I won't get that privilege" (I wish someone had said this to me)

"I would like to . . .Take you to a movie next week if you are up to it ...Come for a visit if you are up to it. . .Bring dinner next Wednesday for the family. . .Take your children for the day so you can be alone with your partner if you'd like"

Sometimes it's hard to think of what you want, and an offer with an easy out might be the kindest thing you can do for someone in shock.
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#20 of 69 Old 04-30-2004, 01:38 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arduinna
please don't say that it was all for the best as the baby probably had something wrong with it. or that this was natures way of keeping a less than perfect baby from being born.

the baby was still wanted even if it wasn't "perfect"
This has been SO true for us. We know that our son had severe deformities & that it is likely at least one of the other babies we lost earlier on did as well. It makes no difference AT ALL. We loved & wanted this baby (and the others) & he was beautiful to us despite it. Are we glad he was spared a life of pain? Yes. But we wish we could have been spared the pain of his loss as well. We cant understand why our baby had to be deformed. Why we had to lose our baby. Saying such things are no condolence at all.
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#21 of 69 Old 05-01-2004, 12:13 PM
 
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I'm so sorry Starfairy
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#22 of 69 Old 10-11-2004, 04:10 PM
 
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is it appropriate to send a sympathy card?

what can someone say in a personal note beyond "i'm sorry" ??
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#23 of 69 Old 10-11-2004, 05:50 PM - Thread Starter
 
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A sympathy card is certainly appropriate.

Speak from your heart. Let them know how much the baby meant and acknowledge their pain.
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#24 of 69 Old 10-11-2004, 06:00 PM
 
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Do acknowledge that the pain doesn't really go away. You just learn to deal with it over time.

Don't say, "Get over it!" or anything to that effect.

He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.  ~Albert Einstein
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#25 of 69 Old 10-25-2004, 01:25 AM
 
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hey, i wanted to pop in here and say maybe you could add something about further along the line. like remember the birthday in future years, maybe be attentive to when the due date is and if the parents need some extra support then, too. also, remember on mothers/fathers day and other holidays that they may find them difficult and be sensitive to that.

aja

Mama to Jet 6/05, Marvel 8/06 and Cash and Fox 2/09
Expecting Ada Marianne 11/14
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#26 of 69 Old 10-26-2004, 02:53 PM
 
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Definitely remember the due date. That was very hard for me.



Also, respect their need for privacy. I don't know if other mothers felt like this, but I just wanted to be left alone. I only wanted to talk to my husband and my mother. I didn't even want my in-laws to come over (and I hope I didn't hurt their feelings, because it turned out that they were very supportive and even paid for the burial costs)

I informed all my friends of the u/s results (no heartbeat at 22 weeks) by email. I just couldn't bear talking to anyone, like I said.

If the mother wants privacy, respect that.
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#27 of 69 Old 01-02-2005, 03:23 PM
 
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We just lost our son on Monday and received two very thoughful gifts that I will always cherish. One was a Snowbabies Christmas tree ornament with the year on it. It will be nice to remember our baby every year and to have an annual reminder for our other children and family members. We also received a beautiful keepsake box from the hospital for momentos of Alex, his u/s photos, and notes from friends and family. Prior to this experience, I couldn't imagine an appropriate gift for such a terrible experience. But I will never forget these two gifts and the loving people who gave them to our family.

Jennifer
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#28 of 69 Old 01-10-2005, 02:29 AM
 
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Even if a couple was actively trying to conceive prior to the loss, please don't assume they will continue to TTC after the loss. The loss may cause them to not want to try and conceive again.

When I was in the emergency room the attending physician made the "it's nature's way" and "it's sad that some who want a baby so badly loses it and someone that doesn't want one gets one" comments. Neither observation is helpful.
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#29 of 69 Old 01-16-2005, 12:41 PM
 
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Please remember how you reacted before experiencing this loss. Before losing my baby I did not react appropriately and know my thoughts were just plain ignorant. It is important to remember, that unless you have had this experience you don’t know what to say or react to feelings you have never experienced.
The most painful issue for me is that I feel plagued. Know one really talks to me about the situation. I really want and need to talk. All of the don’ts you have mention are at times painful, but the most painful comments are the ones that don’t acknowledge your loss, ie you can try again, it’s natures way, … I just want my loss to be acknowledge and someone to listen to my pain.
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#30 of 69 Old 03-13-2005, 02:56 AM
 
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I've had three miscarriages, and the single thing that helped most (aside from quiet hugs) was a gift from my friend after the first one. She managed to hit on something absolutely perfect for me - it was a bit of a surprise as she's never been pregnant and isn't ever planning to be.

Two days after I lost the baby, I met her for coffee after work (she's always been my main shoulder to cry on). As soon as I sat down, she gave me a soft stuffed dog, and said "I thought it might help you to have something to cuddle". I actually burst into tears in the restaurant, but it helped - a lot. And, it helped with the next two miscarriages, too.

I didn't get much of the "it's God's will", but I did get a lot of "oh, well - at least you have one child already". It made me feel somewhat homicidal, to be honest.

Lisa, lucky mama of Kelly (3/93) ribboncesarean.gif, Emma (5/03) ribboncesarean.gif, Evan (7/05) ribboncesarean.gif, & Jenna (6/09) ribboncesarean.gif
Loving my amazing dh, James & forever missing ribbonpb.gif Aaron Ambrose ribboncesarean.gif (11/07) ribbonpb.gif

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