How to deal with a friends loss - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 01-29-2002, 01:11 PM - Thread Starter
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A good friend of my husband had a stillborn baby boy on Sunday. She was 36 weeks and suddenly didn't feel the baby move. She rushed to the hospital and had an u/s and was told the baby had no heartbeat. I have never been around someone who has lost a baby before.

She and I are not really close but I feel I need to make a gesture of some kind. Can any of you ladies recommend a course of action here? My natural tendency is to hide away from the issue and never talk about it, but I know that is not the healthy thing to do.

What should I say to her? How can I express my sorrow over the loss of this precious soul without it sounding hollow or trivial? Please, any recommendations would be very much appreciated.

Thank You.

Mom to dc 16
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, dd 13
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In raising my children, I have lost my mind but found my soul. -Lisa T. Shepherd
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#2 of 6 Old 01-29-2002, 03:11 PM
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What a kind and loving person you are. This woman is so lucky to have someone around her who cares so much.

When my daughter was stillborn so many people wanted to sweep it under the rug and pretend it didn't happen. That really hurt me because I gave birth to a beautifull baby girl who I wanted desperatly.

My gentle suggestion to you would be. Listen - call her and let her talk. Use the baby's name often in your conversation. She may want to tell you her birth story. As hard as it is, listen. You don't have to say much. I'm sorry is about all you can say. Don't try to compair the loss to someone else - it's a very unique loss.

I lost my daughter 8 yrs. ago and recently my friend lost her 5 yr. old son. The loss was not the same at all and I didn't try to compair. Hearing her cry in pain and rage is very difficult, but I know it's necessary for her to heal.

If your not comfortable calling, send her a note and let her know your there for her if she needs you. If she's not getting the support she needs from family and friends she'll really appreciate your gesture.

These are a few resources that I know and trust. SHARE and PILC were most helpfull to me after I lost my daughter.

I wish you peace as you help this woman move through her greif.
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#3 of 6 Old 01-29-2002, 03:56 PM
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I agree with Ms. Mom. Having lost my 2nd ds when he was 3 1/2 months old, 14 years ago, I know that the worst thing you can do is ignore her and not let her talk about her baby.

I could not believe how soon people expected me to stop grieving and how uncomfortable they were if I even tried to talk about my son, and that was only a couple months after he died.

The other worst thing you can do is say things that minimize her pain, like "God never gives you more than you can handle" or "it was for the best" (my son was severely handicapped) and all the other platitudes that people seem to say without thinking.

The people who helped me the most were those that said I'm sorry and hugged me, some with tears in their eyes. Those were the people that I felt at least had some clue about how we were feeling.

It is hard to be there for someone who is grieving. I now realize that after being there for others who have had losses, but believe me, your friend will never forget the people who were truly there for her.
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#4 of 6 Old 01-30-2002, 01:38 AM
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I think both Ms. Mom and glh are to be listened to closely, having had this experience. I had two miscarriages before my kids were born, but I don't think it's of quite the same caliber. However, the person I know who experienced a stillbirth always came to me to talk about her dd, I think because I'd had trouble and because I wasn't afraid to ask her how she was doing (months and months and months later), etc. Also, she lost her dd in the summer months, but that Christmas I gave her a little angel ornament for her Christmas tree with a copy of The Prophet. She really seemed to appreciate it. Later she said that no one else had mentioned her dd at Christmas and that it had hurt her greatly. So, food for thought I suppose. Mostly though, I'd take my cue from your friend if I were you. You'll quickly know how much she wants you to refer to her baby.
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#5 of 6 Old 05-15-2002, 03:23 PM
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I agree with the other's posts... I experienced the death of our unborn baby this month. The people that helped me the greatest were those who called me back to see how I was doing after I called giving them the news; those that just offered empathy or sympathy, support; not the awful comments that it could have been worse or that is was for the best, or just quickly went on to change the subject. One friend made a specific offer to pick up my other children for the day so I could rest. Many people said, Let me know if I can do anything, but I do not like to make requests, so the specific offer was a great help. Thank you for reaching out for ideas on how to respond to the mother, for finding ways to honor and act on your loving feelings when you were not sure what to do.
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#6 of 6 Old 05-16-2002, 09:18 PM
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You have gotten great advice. Listen. It is the best thing you can do.

I lost a child at 33 weeks. Two responses I received were particularly helpful. One was from a distant family friend from another state. She called me about 2 weeks after the birth and asked me about my child. She asked if i had gotten to hold him, did he have a lot of hair, etc. I loved and was proud of the son I lost. He was beautiful! Her questions allowed me to celebrate him.

The other response was from a casual friend who is a psychologist. She invited me to a botanical garden 3 weeks after his birth, where we walked and talked. She asked a lot of questions and let me talk. I remember telling her about how i felt a part of my body - like a limb - was missing - How 'fumbling and incomplete' I felt physically. I shared things with these two women that I did not share with my mother or closest friends. Somehow their approach just opened me up.

So, I guess my point is that you can send a simple card/note now, BUT follow up in a month or even two. Plan a visit with her, ask about her baby, and *listen*. She will still be grieving long after most people have stopped calling.

The gift of a plant, especially a spring-blooming perrenial, would be a really honoring, healing gesture.
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