As I shared in my previous post, my triplet girls–Alexandria Jewel, Emiliana Opal, and Sadie Pearl–are in heaven, arriving there shortly after their birth. During and after their passing, people helped, encouraged, and loved us is so many remarkable ways.
Of course, gosh, people said some dumb things too—things that made it hard. You know the sayings: They are in a better place. God needed three angels. And the worst: Maybe their spirits needed to learn something. Ugh.
I no longer hold such things against people. People just don’t know what to say. The words hurt, but I quickly figured out the intention behind the words were more important. If there was love there, I just learned to ignore it.
If you, or someone you know is grieving, here are some ideas that might help.
Words you can say:
- Keep it short and sweet. You can say, “I was saddened by your baby’s death.” Or, “You will be in my thoughts and prayers.”
- Use the name of the baby, as much as you can (if parent seems receptive). We don’t get to hear or see their names often. I treasure their names.
- Recall special memories of the parents caring for their baby (during pregnancy or after), characteristics you admired, or funny things that happened.
- Send handwritten notes. Even it is says nothing more than a sentence such as, “I don’t know what to say, but you are in my thoughts and prayers. I love you.”
Things you can do:
- Sit and listen. Even if there is nothing but silence.
- Offer to work to remove their names from mailing lists about baby products/magazines.
- Look up information about how to stop the milk from coming in. Help the mom with this. Or ask if she would like to donate her milk. Help her figure out how if she is interested.
- Bring meals. Come over (announced) and just start doing whatever you see needs doing (lawn care, dishes, etc). The depression can be so bad that those tasks are just completely unmanageable. Use a care calendar to organize help. But remember, everyone deals with grief differently. Some keep really busy while others cannot breath, much less do chores or go grocery shopping.
- When she is ready, come over and take her for a walk or a run.
- Scrapbook with her. Find a way to display memory items. Help the parents empty the nursery when ready.
- Help plan and build a memorial garden in the backyard.
- Donate money to a relevant cause in the baby’s name. We donated to the NICU and to smile train. My brother and his wife donated money for three trees to be planted in their name. We liked that too.
- Look for local support groups and/or local counselor. Offer to drive.
- Buy some remembrance jewelry, or a teddy bear (something to hold, the arms feel so empty after).
- Have their child’s name written in the sand.
- Buy books on grief, read them, and then give to the mom. Offer to talk about the books.
Other helpful links and books:
- Any book by Nancy Guthrie is great.
- Any book by Philip Yancey. Examples: Disappointment with God: Three Questions No One Asks Out Loud; What’s So Amazing About Grace; Prayer: Does It Make a Difference.
- Granger E. Westberg’s Good Grief: A Faith Based Guide to Understanding and Healing.
- Martha Hickman’s Healing After Loss: Daily Meditations for Working Through Grief.
Rita is the proud momma of five. She has a five year old girl, a four year old boy, and identical triplets who reside now in Heaven. She and her husband live each day to honor the short but sweet lives of their Sadie, Emiliana, and Alexandria. They use that chapter of their lives to power their commitment to be fully present for their living kiddos, to remain committed to each other, and to keep their faith in God.
She also serves on the board for the Back to School Roundup, a volunteer-driven, nonprofit organization dedicated to providing underserved schoolchildren and their families with school supplies and other “back to school essentials” necessary to return to school ready, and equipped, for a successful academic year. In addition, she is a freelancer who does all things nerdy for nonprofits (evaluation, grants, surveys, project management, and much more).