How to Help A Couple After Infant Loss

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How to Help is a series of thoughtful and practical reader submissions. If you would like to submit a “How to Help” post for consideration, please contact me. This guest post is by Erin Adams.

How to Help A Couple After Infant Loss 1

We look at each other.  Tired eyes.

Tremendous love and sorrow mingling together.

We both somehow know it is time.

We ring for the nurse and hand over our baby,

knowing we will never touch him again.

Good bye, little baby boy.

We leave the labor & delivery wing of the hospital,

no baby in our arms.

There is no need for a safety check on our infant seat.

We don't need any of the baby stuff we prepared.

All we needed was the baby casket.

Hello, outside, scary world.

So many things that used to be easy in life, are now incredibly difficult.

I had just been waddling about town with a big baby bump.

I can't just stop into my regular grocery store, coffee shop {fill in the blank},

without someone asking where my baby is.

It's hard to have a good time going to parties or going out for drinks with your friends.

I didn't want to have this sort of "freedom".  I wanted to be home with a newborn.

My husband Scott and I were newlyweds.

Our first year of marriage was, the excitement of finding out we had a baby on the way,

multiple bed rests with lots of scary blood loss, finding out our baby had a fatal brain defect,

a few months more of bonding and preparing for the loss of him.

In May of 2005, we met our baby Gabriel, held him & then had to say good-bye.

What about all the people on the outside who see the loss and wish they could do something?

What can you say?  What can you do?  It's all so confusing.

DO ACKNOWLEDGE THE LIFE OF THEIR BABY. You may think since you don't know what to say, or you don't want to make them upset, you shouldn't say anything at all about the baby. A hard thing in infant loss is the fact that there are not a bunch of other people who knew that life. Because of that, you may have no idea what to say. But, it hurts a lot when it feels like someone close to you is pretending like you didn't just have a baby. If the baby was named, use the baby's name. If not, still refer to the baby as their baby. Don't just make reference to "the pregnancy", in a generic fashion.

DO REMEMBER that THE FATHER is also grieving and enduring a huge loss. He is not just supporting the mother in her grief. He is grieving also. A man at church wrote a note specifically to Scott. It wasn't addressed to me at all. I received a lot of encouraging notes. We received many addressed to us jointly. But I thought the note of encouragement, guy to guy, was such a blessing. Respect the father as one in his own grief.

DON'T directly or indirectly SAY THEY SHOULD "GET OVER IT." I know you want your friend to be happy again. You don't want them to fall into despair. But you also must know that the loss of that little one will always be with the parents. The pace of life will slowly get back on track, but there will always be a little limp there. I was told by an older mother who was sharing about her baby girl who was lost to them over 30 years prior, "Time will not make the pain go away. With time, you will feel the deep pain less frequently, just as life speeds up and changes. But, when you do stop and remember, the pain will still be just as deep."

DO LET THEM CRY. Don't worry about asking them why they are crying. You probably know why. Their baby died.

DO GIVE FROM THE HEART. Bring over good food. Grief is exhausting. Try telling them that you are going to drop by and do some housework. Ask what times are good for that and follow through, instead of just telling them to give you a call if they need you to do the dishes. Your friend will most likely not initiate upon the offer.

Beautiful notes are a treasure. Flowers really are lovely, too. If the person is very close to you, a special gift could be a necklace pendant with the baby's birthstone.

DON'T PRESSURE THEM into doing a bunch of "fun" stuff to get their mind off of their loss. THEY NEED SPACE FOR GRIEF.

DO JUST LOVE THEM the best you know how. You will be a blessing.

If you can, DO KEEP REMEMBERING. They will never forget. It is nice to know others still remember.

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How to Help A Couple After Infant Loss 2

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Erin Adams and her husband Scott were happy newlyweds when they found out that their expected baby had Anencephaly, a fatal brain defect. They cherish the 7 months of pregnancy they had with Gabriel and the few minutes after his birth. In this short time, their son helped to teach them more about God and what love is really about.

7 years later, Erin and Scott are more in love with each other and thankful to have 4 more little children in their home. They are currently in the process of adopting another child from Ethiopia. Erin blogs at Everyday Carnival about whatever craziness is going on in her home and head.

©2020 Stephanie Sheaffer - All Rights Reserved
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