Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Response to Grief

Last week, I had several people respond to my newspaper column regarding my ectopic pregnancy. Amid those responses were people wondering how they should respond & what they should say to women who have lost a baby due to miscarriage.

Before responding, I wanted to make sure my heart was in the right place. While I'm not any sort of "expert" opinion on the grieving process, I did recently go through a miscarriage. And, when I was in high school, my little brother died. So I am not far-removed from the grief process.

So, I say that I wanted my heart in the right place so I wasn't trying to "put others in their place," but that I was really trying to help.

Grief is a personal thing. So, I remind you that no two women (people!) will grieve the same. What's "right" for one, won't be for another. But, one thing, at least, is the same. The grief and sense of loss runs deep. If you've ever lost a family member, miscarriage or otherwise, you know the intensity that comes from grief.

For this post, I contacted other women who have lost babies, and those who have also lost other family members: spouses, siblings, parents. Here are a few of the top responses to this question: For a grieving person, what can people do or say, NOT do, NOT say? (I will leave the responses anonymous).

DO...
* Say "I'm sorry for your loss." One woman said: "I know that sounds kind of cliche, but it really was more comforting to me than people not saying anything at all. I appreciated some sort of recognition that what I was going through was tough."

Do...
* Be patient. As one woman said: "The grief process isn't over after a month, or 3, or 9...everyone is different. But it's not over like a flip of a switch."

Do...
* Offer to help...meals, watching older kids, housework. One woman said: "Do Not say "call me if you need anything". She won't call. Say instead "can I call in a few days to see if there is anything I can help with?" and then offer specifics when you do call. A grieving Mom can't organize the help she needs...she is too overwhelmed."

Do...
* Ask about the baby's name or nickname, depending on how early or late the loss was.

Do...
* Ask how the dad is doing.

Do...
* Let the family be sad...as long as it takes.

DON'T...
*Discuss faith explanations for why a loss happens unless your friend brings it up. One woman said: "While faith explanations for why things happen may be helpful for you, this is not a time to discuss why the family doesn't get to have a baby in their arms. This includes: God needing more angels, everything happening for a reason, God's will, etc..."

Don't...
*Act like it never happened. This is forever a part of their lives.

Don't...
* Tell them to take comfort in other children. One woman said: "I did not find it comforting when people said: At least you already have two boys, or you can always try for another. While both those statements are true, they were not helpful. Yes, I have two boys that I am thankful for but my desire was to add another member to our family."

Don't...
* Tell them they can adopt. One woman said: "It's not about finding a replacement. This child was special and wanted. The hopes and dreams for this child as a part of their family is gone now."

This list is by no means complete...if you have other ideas to add, feel free to comment below.

I also want to thank all the women who helped me compile these ideas.

2 comments:

  1. This is wonderful! I had a miscarriage last year and I don't think I can think of anything to add. You got it exactly right.

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  2. Great post Malinda! I always kind of wonder if I say the wrong things...which it looks like I do sometimes :). But, it's nice to know some specifics.

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