This is a hard topic. It’s hard to talk about, hard to read about, and so, so hard to live. Pregnancy and child loss affects one in four women from early stage loss to late term pregnancy and infant loss. Recently I was invited to talk about our loss on the Footprints of Inspiration podcast with Tammy Rotzoll.
It’s always a bittersweet experience to talk about our sweet boy. Equal parts painful and wonderful to remember how amazing it was to have him, even for a little while. The gracious host of the podcast asked what advice I would give to mother’s experiencing loss. In my mission of making child loss less taboo, I thought I’d share that here with you also. Know that you aren’t alone in the darkness of this loss.
- Grieve the way you need to. Don’t let anyone tell you how or when you should feel. Listen to yourself, and use your own process to grieve in a way that is healthy for you. Grief has a tendency to catch you off guard sometimes. Our son would turn six this year, and there are so many unexpected moments of sad and joy that can come out of nowhere. You can’t prepare for them, but you can embrace them. If you need to cry, cry. If you need to scream, grab a pillow. If you want to yell mean things at God, do that. I promise he will sit and take it, he may even say “bring it” as he cradles you in his arms.
- Ask for help. You’ll hear over and over again, “Call me if you need anything?”, “Let me know if there’s anything I can do?”, “I’m so sorry, how can I help?” I know these are the platitudes that come from all our mouths when someone experiences loss. Here’s something that might surprise you. Most of those friends are sincere in their words. They really are. The hard part of living in the fog of loss is that you might not know what you need. I often didn’t, but occasionally I did and I learned slowly to say those things out loud. Slowly at first, “Could you just sit with me?”, “I could use some accountability to plan for dinner tonight?”, “Could you help me remember to…”. Whatever that little thing is that you’re worried about, your friends want to help and truth be told it will keep them from dropping casseroles and desserts. Though that is always welcome too!
- Find a safe space. Don’t be afraid to find a space – a physical space to walk away to (for me it was the master closet or the chair in our room). Maybe your space is a physical place but it could also be a person or a circle of people I found comfort in my close circle of friends. Sometimes that looked like a quick text to the group where I knew someone would respond in a way I needed (tough love or grace). Other times, I would text person I knew would tell me what I wanted to hear. Your people get you. They won’t get tired of you. Lean on them.
No one grieves in the same way. While God made us all in His image, he wove our hearts to feel and our brains to processes in different ways. The beauty of the uniqueness in each of us. I often think of that same uniqueness in the son we lost, and I wonder about him. Sometimes aloud, and others to myself. These tips aren’t the magic key to healing heart, but I hope they can be a start.