Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Guest Post: How to Reach Out to Grieving Parents

In 2013 the U.S. had 23,440 infant deaths.  Infant deaths are those that take place before the child turns one.  This does not include those that experience miscarriages and stillbirths.  Losing a baby, no matter at what point, is very difficult for a family.  For family and friends around them, it can also be very difficult to know what to do to show love and support to the grieving parents. I found myself in that exact situation just over a year ago when my friend Hailey gave birth to her son at 24 weeks.  We were hopeful that he would make it, but 32 days later, he passed away.  Hailey was willing to share her experience and how you can support grieving parents....


When I became pregnant, my mind was flooded with a range of different thoughts and emotions. I was beyond ecstatic, nervous, scared, happy, stressed, and the list goes on. Immediately I started thinking about who my child would be, who they would become, and what personality would they have? I am sure that every mom or future mom has had a similar range of emotions and thoughts. With all the different thoughts and emotions I experienced, the last thing I had on my mind was the word death. Why would I think of death when there was a new life, a baby, developing in me?

My pregnancy unexpectedly ended at 24 weeks when I had to have an emergency cesarean section to save my son. We fought hard to save his life but unfortunately he passed away 32 days later. My world was turned upside down. I was supposed to take my baby home, raise him, and see who he would become.  I was in uncharted territory that I never hoped or dreamed to be in. I never thought I would lose a child, but now I was faced with that dreaded word: death.

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It has now been a year since my son passed away. Over this past year in grieving, I have come to recognize that to many people, death is a taboo topic that isn’t talked about enough. Too many individuals suffer alone through the trauma of loss of a child or other loved one. You will at one point or another, if you haven’t already, know someone who has had a child who passed away.  The following are 2 tips that can help you in knowing how to help a grieving parent.

Remember!


The best gift you can give to a grieving parent is to remember their child. No one wants their child to be forgotten! Don’t be afraid to say the child’s name (if they received a name). In talking with others this year, many have said they don’t talk about my son because they are afraid it will be too hard for me. Though understandable, a grieving parent is always thinking about their child regardless of whether you talk about them or not. It’s better to remember and speak up than to play it safe and be quiet. Grieving parents want to talk about their child just as much as you want to talk about your living children.

Act, Don’t Ask


As I have dealt with the loss of my son, many times I have no idea what I need. Individuals have asked if I need anything to let them know. It’s hard to do that when you are dealing with trauma because you can’t think clearly. Instead of always asking, just do little acts of service to let grieving parents know you are thinking of them. They could be anonymous if you’d like. You could take over a meal, send a card, take flowers, give a gift card to their favorite restaurant, help clean, tend their other children, baby loss jewelry, etc. The possibilities are endless and each individual is unique. Continue to think about that grieving parent over time, not just when the child dies.  Often there is an outpouring of service right around the funeral but after, a grieving parent can feel abandoned and forgotten as everyone moves on with life. Perform acts of service at random times throughout the year, especially on major holidays and anniversaries. It will mean the world to that parent to not feel forgotten!

These tips may seem insignificant but to a grieving parent they can have a significant positive impact.  Death may be a topic we want to ignore, but in doing so we ignore those who are suffering from loss. Let’s reach out to those suffering. Any small act you do for a grieving parent will make a difference in their life!

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If you are going through a loss or know someone that is, here are some resources that might help:

babylosscomfort.com/grief-resources

nowilaymedowntosleep.org

nationalshare.org







2 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for this post! I needed it!

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  2. We are so glad that you found this post helpful and hope the information makes a difference for you and your loved ones!

    ReplyDelete