Last week on my blog, I shared about my own experience with pregnancy loss.
I did this, in part, as a way to bring awareness to the countless women who have suffered from the loss of a child during pregnancy. Often times, in silence.
And, in part, because I have not openly shared my own story before now.
It has taken me years to talk about the details of my miscarriage, but I’m glad that I finally have. I’ve found there is something truly beautiful and healing that takes place in the process.
If you’d like to read my personal story, you can do so here.
With October being recognized, world-wide, as the National Pregnancy & Infant Loss awareness month, I wanted to dedicate this month to helping women speak out about their own stories of loss.
The purpose in writing the article below is to show you a little glimpse into the heart of one who is grieving a life that has ended too soon. What they feel, what is helpful, what is hurtful, what others can do to show they care.
When someone loses a baby, there are typically so many questions that follow. Not only for the grieving parents, but also for those who love the grieving, and want to offer them the best support possible.
My hope is that this will be a helpful guide for those who are suffering the heartache of loss, as well as those who are standing in the trenches with those who grieve.
“Some friends sent me flowers, and that really helped me. Just that they acknowledged it as a legitimate loss helped. The texts and checking in and letting me know they were thinking of me. Even weeks after the loss. Just the consistent checking in helped me a lot.” – Kate
“Expressions of sympathy and sorrow. That’s it. Just the words “I’m so sorry.” Nothing more was needed or wanted at the time. Also, (although probably different for many) we appreciated life moving on, and people not dwelling on what we were going through. Laughing eased our pain in the moment, and talking about other things took our minds off what my body was in the process of doing.” – Laney
“My husband and I were in such shock after the discovery of our miscarriage. The most helpful and comforting thing anyone said, came from him. He told me that He was sorry that I lost my baby.” – Erin
“One of the things that meant so much to me was when people didn’t ask me if I needed anything done (say, around the house or the text “If you need anything, just let me know!” Ughhh … ), they just told me they would like to come over and help clean my house for me or cook me dinner. I admire and cherish my friends that thought outside of the box to show me love. Also, when friends would come over and spend time with me so I wasn’t alone; anxiety was SO real back in the first few months and I absolutely hated being by myself. It took me a couple of months to even step foot into my own apartment again.” –Stacy
“The most helpful thing for me was knowing how many women “came out of the wood work” that had gone through the same thing I did. One of the nurses at the hospital, the woman working at the funeral home, and acquaintances, all had told me about their stories. Some of their losses were horrific compared to mine, but how can I really compare a loss?” – Robin
“Honestly, everyone who knew about it was great. I had let a lot of people know, before our loss, to ask for prayers for miracles (we knew early on that the pregnancies weren’t looking good). So, we had a very good network of support following our losses. I would highly recommend that women share their experiences, even in real time.” – Kate
“Just the well-meaning phrases. “God has a plan” was the one we got most often, and while we understood and believed that, every mention of it brought more pain than the last. When we did eventually announce (as we felt would help us heal), we kindly asked that people refrain from the well-wishes and just be praying for us.” – Laney
“The hardest part with all the abortion noise around me was feeling like I couldn’t talk about my loss. When it’s all said and done, no matter the age or what the law might think, that was my baby who died. All my future hopes and dreams I had of my littlest love were lost when my baby died.” – Erin
“Strangers, although some may be well-meaning, are the absolute worst. I went into the Christian book store a week or so after I delivered Aaron and the lady on the register asked me when I was due. Of course I burst out in tears right in front of her. She came around the counter and hugged me and dared to say to me that “he was in a better place.” I could have punched her right then and there. I also went back to work in my fast-paced customer service job 8-12 weeks after I lost Aaron, and I could write a BOOK about the brainless, hurtful things people have said to me.” – Stacy
“I was in a very unhealthy marriage at the time, and loosing a child WITH this person suddenly became loosing a child LACKING this person. How could two people go through the same situation feeling so lonely? Still boggles my mind, and not because of the reality of what was actually happening, but because my mind didn’t want to accept that two people could feel so numb that they couldn’t communicate the pain. My assumption was the people came together when faced with this situation, not drift apart… miles and miles apart. One unhelpful thing was looking into a family member’s or friend’s eyes and seeing the sorrow for me. Totally wasn’t their fault, but all the sudden the dynamic of our relationship or friendship had changed, and it scared me too think that this sorrowful look would last too long. I wanted everyone to be how I knew them…not full of pity for me. I was in denial.” – Robin
“Those who sow in tears reap in joy” (exponential joy for the tears sown)! “Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning” “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, close to those who are crushed in spirit.” – Kate
“See if I will not open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be enough room to store it.” (Malachi 3:10) This was a verse-of-the-day that showed up shortly after we confirmed the loss via ultrasound. I’ve clung to it since.” – Laney
“Naomi’s story from the book of Ruth. She had lost her children and her husband and felt it deeply. I found it comforting that even though Naomi believed lies about God, He still was close to her.” – Erin
“(Psalm 23) (Deut. 31:6) (Psalm 34:18) (Psalm 27:13) (Neh. 8:10) and many more verses as well. Many nights I laid awake, so tired but not able to sleep because of anxiety and most likely PTSD, and I had to repeat Psalm 23 over and over to myself. It was the only thing that was able to calm me down enough to fall asleep.” – Stacy
“At the time, I didn’t want to find scripture and was so lost on moving forward, so I just stood still. Now it’s ” I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Strength, new hope, and his love brought me back to life! Everything I once knew had vanished and I was made new. God had placed so many amazing people in my life and he had a plan for me that I suddenly see is more than I could ever realize I needed. He knew want I needed and wanted. My life is incredibly beyond expectation. Praise be to Him! I can do all things through Him…I can have two beautiful healthy daughters…I can have an amazing marriage…I can have a life that I never thought possible, so I can do all things through Him! Yahoo!” – Robin
“At the time, it was just the Bible. However, I am currently part of a launch/review team for Loved Baby by Sarah Philpott. It just came out on Monday. It is 31 devotionals to help moms grieve and cherish their lost babies. It is amazing!” – Kate
“I got on Facebook and searched for groups relating to my specific case. For me, having a group of people who have experienced the same problem, and knew how you felt was a good resource to be able to use. I could vent, ask questions, and now be able to use the group to help others going through the same thing.” – Laney
“I read so many blog posts from other moms who had miscarriages. It was comforting to read their accounts and to not feel alone in my own grief. ” – Erin
“Going to a grief counselor has changed me in so many ways. I cannot emphasize enough how valuable it is to seek out a good counselor. She has listened to me talk for hours and has reassured me that I am, in fact, NOT crazy, and that what I have experienced is normal for what I have been through. It’s nice to have an outside source reassure you that you’re not a crazy lady!” – Stacy
“I didn’t attend any bereavement groups. I didn’t look on any websites. But the only book that helped me is going to sound totally weird… Oh the Places You’ll Go, by Dr. Seuss. Bizarre, but it gave me hope for the future and I imagined reading to my son, even though I was reading it for myself.” – Robin
“I bought 2 birthstone Christmas snowflake ornaments, one for October and one for Nov, the months we lost our little babies. I see them on our Christmas tree every year, along w/ the other ornaments we have for our sons. That helps to see them as part of our family.” – Kate
“My husband and I went a little crazy and we got a kitten just a few days after our loss. Our kitten and our baby were about the same age. The hardest part of losing our baby was realizing that we would never hold our little one. We named our kitten, Peanut in honor of our baby.” – Erin
“I always make it a point to celebrate his birthday by doing something fun and memorable. Now that we have our second son, Seth, I make sure it’s something that he would have enjoyed doing with his brother. I have taken pictures of every celebration so I can make a photo album that we can look through together as he gets older. I never ever tell people that I have just one child, I always say that I have two boys. I have blogged about Aaron’s pregnancy and his birth story as a way to bring healing for myself, and hopefully to encourage those who are experiencing the same unfortunate things as I have.” – Stacy
“I remember my son on his birthday. I dread it, and am excited for it every year. I participate to every emotion ever seen on that day. lol I’m a hot, great mess full of despair for loosing him, blessed for knowing him, and excitement for getting to see him again.” – Robin
When it comes to grief, there is no one size fits all. Each circumstance is unique, as is each individual.
(For the comforter) The important thing is to be present. Make yourself available. Be intentional. Don’t wait for your friend to come to you. Don’t expect her to tell you what she needs, when she needs it. YOU go to her. Draw close. Be near. Sit with her, be a listening ear, cry with her, wrap your arms around her, make sure she knows how sorry you are for her loss, help in concrete ways, and lower any expectations you might have.
(For the griever) If you can muster up the strength- reach out. Speak up. Share how you’re feeling. Let people know what you need, when you need it. Tell them what is helpful, and what is not. If you need space, let it be known. If you need company, be sure to tell them so. Find others to connect with who have been in your shoes. Don’t stay hiding. Pamper yourself. Eat, rest, cry.
Above all- GRACE. We are all just doing the best that we can. We are in this together.
Grievers- people will say hurtful things. Chances are, they don’t mean to. Unless someone has been where you are, they cannot possibly know what to do, and what not to do. Give grace.
Comforters- there’s a good chance your friend will say or do something that makes you feel slighted. Don’t take it personally. Remember, she is hurting. What is helpful one minute, might not be, the next. She might seem absent for a time; let her be. Give grace.
About the Contributors~
I am SO thankful for each of these women who have taken the time to share their heart with us! I applaud them for their beautiful transparency, and their willingness to be vulnerable, and bring awareness to such a difficult subject.
Kate Landry– Kate gracefully shares her struggles with infertility, miscarriage, and IVF, in real time, at her webpage, A Hundred Affections. To read more about Kate’s journey, be sure to visit her here. In addition, Kate helped to launch the new book, Loved Baby, by Sarah Philpott; a 31 day devotional for mama’s who have lost a baby. If you would like to purchase a copy of this beautiful devotional, please follow this link.
Laney McCracken– Laney is one of today’s up and coming creatives. She runs her own photography business, as well as her new Etsy shop, Twice Written, where she creates digital custom prints. Recently, she has designed a beautiful “Pregnancy Loss” printable. (Pictured below) This would make an endearing gift for someone who has lost a baby too soon. To check out her online shop, start by clicking here.
Erin Nicholson– Erin is a mama to two little boys, and one precious baby in heaven. She calls the beautiful PNW home, and she frequently writes about her love of Jesus and family on her website, Momma’s Living Room. To read Erin’s tender miscarriage story, you can visit her here.
Stacy Hoffman– For the purpose of encouraging others who are forced to walk this unfortunate path, Stacy shares about the pregnancy, birth, and loss of her son, Aaron, at her blogsite, Growing Bravely. She writes with raw emotion and honest transparency. You will literally feel the aching of her heart. To read Stacy’s 3-part series, follow links 1, 2, and 3.
Robin Alcorn- Robin, once worked as a school counselor, but recently ditched her day job to become a stay-at-home-mom. She and her husband are busy raising two beautiful young girls. They live in the “evergreen state,” where they spend much of their time camping, hiking, fishing, and simply enjoying the great outdoors. Their love of family and God, is larger than life! If you would like to get in touch would Robin, you can do that through here.