Given that, according to studies, 1 in 4 have experienced losing a baby or child it is very likely you are going to encounter the situation of being with a friend who has lost theirs.
In my personal experience I noticed that many of the people who met me and my story had no idea how to handle it, either they avoided the topic or were speechless. Some of my friends are still speechless after more than a year. I do understand this. After my training in grief and loss and with years of working with clients with experiences that included the loss of a child I didn’t really know how to appropriately react even though I apparently did help those clients. Nothing prepared me fully for my personal experience.
Untimely or sudden death, as that of a child, an accident or suicide, leaves people speechless because ‘it shouldn’t happen’. I found myself speechless in the process of my grief, exhausted from the emotional roller coaster and still wished that people would talk to me about it.
(Today I’ve been reminded about the importance of helping people understand WHAT to say, when I called a fitness center to inform them that my mother died in January through suicide and the response I got was ‘That’s not good!’… )
Here is what I wrote just two weeks after the loss of my baby:
Wishes of An Angel’s Mum and Dad
- I wish you would not be afraid to mention my baby Amya Mirica Hope. Just because you never saw her doesn’t mean she doesn’t deserve your recognition.
- I wish that if we did talk about my baby and I cried you didn’t think it was because you have hurt me by mentioning her. I need to cry and talk about my baby with you, it helps me heal.
- I wish you could tell me you are sorry my baby has died and that you are thinking of me, it tells me you care.
- I wish you wouldn’t think what has happened is one big bad memory for me. The memory of my baby, the love I feel for my baby and the dreams I had for her are all loving memories. Yes there are bad memories too, but please understand that it’s not all like that.
- I wish you wouldn’t judge me because I’m not acting the way you think I should be. Grief is a very personal thing and we’re all different people who deal with things differently.
- I wish you wouldn’t think if I have a good day I’m ok or if I have a bad day I’m being unreasonable. There is no “normal” way for me to act.
- I wish you wouldn’t expect me to “feel better” in a few weeks, months, or years for that matter. It may get easier with time but I will never be “over” this.
- I wish you could tell me you are thinking of me on my baby’s birthday, Mothers Day, celebration times and the day my baby died. These are all important and sad days for me.
- I wish you understood that losing my baby has changed me. I’m not the same person I was before and I’ll never be that person again. If you keep waiting for me to get back to “normal” you’ll stay frustrated. I am a new person with new thoughts, dreams, beliefs, and values. Please try to get to know the ‘new’ me, you might even still like me.
Avoid Clichés & Unhelpful Comments
Remember that we loved and wanted THIS baby, Amya Mirica Hope even though we have Ananda Mae Passion with us
“Everything happens for a reason”
“You will have another baby”
“I know what you’re going through (unless you have experienced a similar loss)
“I guess it’s God’s way of taking care of those with problems”
“You would rather have lost your baby then look after a child with a disability”
“Sometimes these things happen for the best”
“It wasn’t meant to be”
“You’re young, you’ll get over it”
“At least you weren’t farther along.”
“This was probably a blessing in disguise.”
“Now you have an angel in heaven.”
“It was God’s will”
“At least you have other children”
“At least you can get pregnant”
“The baby would have been deformed anyway”
“Everything will be fine next time”
“You can try again”
Also, don’t fill in conversations with unnecessary outside news, including the announcement of a pregnancy or the birth of another baby.