What is the most helpful thing someone could do for you? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 13 Old 05-12-2009, 03:58 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I lost my niece yesterday morning. She had an enlarged heart and died when her heart transplant was unsuccessful. She was almost two months old.

I want to do something to help my sister and brother in law. I know that nothing I can say is going to ease their pain. But I have to do something.

I was thinking of offering to pack up my niece's clothing and things for them to put into their storage space. Is this a good idea? Would this be something those of you who lost a child would've wanted someone to do for you? Or is that something you would've needed to do to process the loss?

What was the most helpful thing someone did for you while you were grieving?
Was there something you wished someone had done?

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#2 of 13 Old 05-12-2009, 02:14 PM
 
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Poor niece. I'm so sorry.

I can't speak as someone who lost a child (I lost my brother), but I don't think that packing up her clothes for storage would be a good idea. That's something that eventually the parents will probably want to do for some sort of closure. They might want the clothes out for a long time. So, I wouldn't do that. Just my opinion, though.

Short term, I would offer to cook for them or bring them food. They might be neglecting to eat or not want to put the effort into thinking about meals. If they are having a hard time with the details of the funeral, maybe you could help them with that?

The best thing you can do is be there to listen and not try to "fix" anything. Just listen and hug. If you really need to do something, which I understand because it can help in your grieving process, too, I would maybe make something that they can keep in remembrance. Maybe a framed photo of the family, or a baby quilt with pictures or mementos on it, or something like that.

Hugs to you and your family.

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#3 of 13 Old 05-12-2009, 02:27 PM
 
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My baby was lost too early for me to even really suspect I was pregnant, so I don't really know from that pov, but from other losses... My FIL died in Feb. and the biggest help was having people bring food to the house. We were really too upset, busy, whatever to think about shopping and cooking. Also, my husband (and I've read this on a grieving mom's site too) wanted NO FLOWERS!!! Plants are okay, but flowers are in the process of dying and he doesn't want one more reminder of that.

This site might be helpful...
http://www.babylosscomfort.com/
It is from Earth Mama Angel Baby and is geared toward miscarriage/stillbirth, but they have gifts for the grieving mom and tips for helping out, what to say or not say, etc...

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#4 of 13 Old 05-12-2009, 02:37 PM
 
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first off Im so sorry for your loss. My prayers go out to your family. I am a parent who has lost children. IMO,at least for me, I needed that (putting their things away) as part of my grieving process. I needed to do that for myself. So I would hold off unless they ask you to do so. I would suggest bringing over food, I know its cliche but honestly in the first few days if it hadnt been for frozen tv dinners I wouldnt have eaten. There is so much to do for the first few weeks. I would also suggest asking them if it be alright if you come over at designated times/days (especially if they have other children) to help out as needed. I had family come over at yes it was relief that they took the initative to do things like the dishes,laundry heck clean up and vacuum for me. Even simple things as go get the mail and water the yard. It was a great relief. All those things that in daily life need to get done but when you lose a child it just all falls apart. If they have other children ask to take the children out or even to play outside. Again there is so much to do especially in the first few days to plan a funeral sometimes its better to not have to worry about little ones underfoot.
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#5 of 13 Old 05-12-2009, 10:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you all for your replies.

The clothing was the first thing I thought of, because I thought in that situation I wouldn't want to be reminded constantly, but after reading your responses I realize that is a short sighted view. Her room will remind them of her but that is not a bad thing, it can be one more thing, proof that she was here. When I thought of it more, I probably would not put away my child's clothes for years, if ever. Thank you for steering me toward thinking on that more before I said anything about it.

The flowers are something else most people would never think of, so thank you for the heads up. I will be buying a plant to help decorate the funeral home rather than cut flowers.

I also asked if they would like to plant a tree in her honor, they said yes, so I am bringing a Redbud sapling when I go. (They live 3 hrs away from me). I though the Redbud would be appropriate because it is small and beautiful (it has heart shaped leaves).

I will be making food while I am there that they can freeze. There are no children to care for, my niece was their first.

Fruitfulmama - thank you especially for the link. I did find it helpful.

I am so sorry that any of you have a reason to be in this forum but I am grateful for your help.

Breeder Mama: = wife to an amazing man + mama to J-Bear (07/02) and E-Train (06/08), nanny to Little Bird (07/10).

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#6 of 13 Old 05-12-2009, 11:59 PM
 
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I'm so sorry for your family's loss. When my infant son died last August there are a few things that were really helpful. Find out what resources are available to them when they are ready - are there any infant loss support groups? Any counselors that specialize in infant loss? They probably won't be ready to attend any groups until they get through the initial shock but I was so appreciative I had a list when I was ready. One of the L&D nurses at the hospital where I had my son sent us a sympathy card that included a handwritten list of resources.

Help around the house. Listening - you don't have to fix their pain and you can't no matter how hard you try. You don't have to say anything except your so sorry for their loss and there are no words. Platitudes do not help - saying it was God's plan does not help. Let them lead the conversation where it will go. Laugh with them once they find something to laugh about. It's amazing in grief how you can still find bits of joy.

If they need help notifying friends/family you can help with that. Offer to help write thank you notes.

Healing, peaceful vibes to you all. They've been through a lot and now dealing with the loss and grief will be a tough road.
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#7 of 13 Old 05-14-2009, 11:54 AM
 
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Like others have suggested offering meals and really just an ear if and when they feel like talking. I have never lost a child but I did lose my mother and grandmother in the past 5 years. I agree with others thay they may want to take of the clothes themselves. It was something I did with my Mom and it was part of the grieving process and while it was hard, I am glad I did it.

I am so sorry for your loss.

Shay

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#8 of 13 Old 05-21-2009, 12:47 AM
 
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I'm so very sorry for you family's loss. I know from experience that healing is a slow process.

When my daughter died I spent some time in a blur. I appreciated meals, flowers, and friends calling to check on me. But, it honestly blurs together.

What made the difference was the friends and family that were in it for the long haul. The ones that asked about me and about her. The ones who would mention her name in conversation. The ones that months and years later still listen and let me cry when I need to.

I had a friend who made and sent a card to me every week for 6 months. I knew that every Friday there'd be a card in the mail. We grew closer through it because she talked about her personal feelings about my daughter's death as well as her feelings about her father's death.

As for packing things up, I needed to do that myself and waited for awhile before I did.

Again, my heart goes out to your family. I hope you all find peace.
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#9 of 13 Old 05-21-2009, 10:27 PM
 
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Doing the day to day things like washing clothes and dishes, sweeping the floor while you are there. Things like making sure there is tp in the house and simple things like that.

Ask if you can run errands and make sure the water bill gets paid, who wants to go to the bank or deal with writing a check.

Hugs and love, just listening, if she wants to talk then just sit there and listen, if she just wants to sit, just sit with her. When my father died (I was a teenager) the best thing that anyone did for me was just sit across from the table and held my hand while I cried.

My heart and love goes out to you and your family.

In a week, in a month, in a year be sure to remember, she and her husband will and having the comfort later, not just now is important.
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#10 of 13 Old 05-25-2009, 04:15 PM
 
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I wished someone had brought me cooked meals in the weeks following.

The most memorable thing someone did for me was a dear friend told me I could call her anytime, day or night, even at 3am if I needed to talk. She also came over and checked in on me weekly and she would come over once a week and bring things from the HFS or help make a meal and play with the kids. It was VERY appreciated after everyone else went on with their lives.

Blissful Mama to DD-(5), DS-(6) and someone new due in November!
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#11 of 13 Old 05-25-2009, 09:11 PM
 
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I'm os sorry for your loss and for theirs. I lost my daughter who was stillborn.

I agree with most everything said so far. I would add to remember the parents on the baby's monthly anniversaries and then the 1 year birthday and all other anniversaries to follow. Send a card, give a card, etc. Talk about the baby, your memories, etc, when it feels right. If you have any pictures, maybe make an album for them. Holidays are going to be very rough, especially the first year. And if they get pregnant again, know that it will be difficult and will not erase the bad feelings or feelings of missing their daughter. Let them talk about that with no judgement. They will feel lots of really bad scary feelings, so a haven to listen, really listen with no judegment or horror at what they are thinking is so important.
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#12 of 13 Old 05-26-2009, 09:01 PM
 
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when i saw this thread i thought of you.

http://www.mothering.com/discussions...1#post13830611

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#13 of 13 Old 05-26-2009, 09:11 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shimmer View Post
I'm so very sorry for you family's loss. I know from experience that healing is a slow process.

When my daughter died I spent some time in a blur. I appreciated meals, flowers, and friends calling to check on me. But, it honestly blurs together.

What made the difference was the friends and family that were in it for the long haul. The ones that asked about me and about her. The ones who would mention her name in conversation. The ones that months and years later still listen and let me cry when I need to.

I had a friend who made and sent a card to me every week for 6 months. I knew that every Friday there'd be a card in the mail. We grew closer through it because she talked about her personal feelings about my daughter's death as well as her feelings about her father's death.

As for packing things up, I needed to do that myself and waited for awhile before I did.

Again, my heart goes out to your family. I hope you all find peace.
This!!!

There is nothing worse than the blank stare and uncomfortable silence people give you after a loss, months or years after. I have definitely withdrawn myself from certain people because of that. (though, sadly, these days almost 4 years later nobody really cares anymore at all so I am very alone in that now other than the widow friends I have made over the years via an online support group, it's very sad and breaks my heart knowing no one cares a bit except maybe his mother but she hates me anyway.sooo..)

It took me 2 years to finally get rid of my DH clothes after he died. I had a couple of offers from others to "help" but it sometimes is definitely something you HAVE to do yourself. Taking the clothes out and seeing the empty closet would have absolutely KILLED me any sooner. I had to do it on my own terms myself when I was ready. Having someone else do it would have been AWFUL. I'm sure everyone is different though and it can't hurt to ask.

Blissful Mama to DD-(5), DS-(6) and someone new due in November!
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