It’s that time of year again where it all starts again…….
The day we found out, the day we told everyone. The day we had the first scan. All those little niggling reminders. This year it will be 4 years since we had Ethan and there’s a lot that I have learnt….
Who your friends really are, who cares, what matter the most, how people treat you and what to say and what not to say. Something happened recently which compelled me to write this. I have asked my fellow SANDS friends for their experiences also to help me write this. I hope that you never have to refer to this to use for someone you know but if you do know someone that has lost a baby either recently or at some point in the future then please bare in mind this blog. It’s just a helpful list of what to say and what not to say.
“Shouldn’t you be over it by now” – you never get over the loss of your baby.
“At least you can have another” – there is no at least.
“Are you going to try again” – you may not know the full story, maybe they can’t have another one now, also if they have just lost one baby the thought of another is far from their mind.
“What a nice name, you can use it again if you have another boy/girl” – completely insensitive!
“You should be over it by now” – there is no time limit on this kind of grief.
“Everything happens for a reason” – their baby died, there is no reason that is a comfort.
“He’s/She’s in a better place now” – there is no better place for a baby than in the arms of their parents.
“It’s in the past now don’t worry about it” – seriously?!!!!! Why would you say that?!
“It wasn’t meant to be” – It should have been meant to be!
“At least you know you can get pregnant” – their is no at least, this isn’t a comfort!
“Life goes on” – whilst this may be true, their life just came crashing down around them. I can tell you that in that moment in time they do not feel like life goes on!
“You will get over it in time” – you NEVER EVER get over your baby taking their last breath in your arms! EVER! Ethan was born alive and died in my arms and I will remember that forever.
“You should be fine now you have another” – No other living child will replace that of the one that is lost. No two people are the same.
“At least you have other children” – As above.
“At least one twin survived” – As above.
Don’t forget their child existed, just because their child isn’t here on earth it doesn’t mean they don’t think about them every day.
Unless you have had a similar experience do not tell them that you know how they feel.
Send a card / text / remembrance gift / candle balloon on their birthday and / or anniversary. It will mean a lot to the recipient.
Tell them you are thinking of them during the days and weeks following the death or their baby (text, card, flowers, teddy for baby).
Take food! Take them a meal or a few essentials such as tea, coffee, milk and bread. I can guarantee the last thing on their mind will be to make themselves a meal or face a food shop. Stepping out of the front door is flipping hard work I can tell you. In fact getting up and getting dressed in the early days is an effort so these kind of things are very helpful. They will be consumed by grief and planning a funeral so these small acts of kindness are very helpful, Ste and I didn’t cook for a month!
Maybe even offer to do a few jobs around the house for them, they may say no, tread carefully but with this kind of grief sometimes it is better to just do rather than ask. They may not want to put you out by you doing something for them. It’s al for the reasons mentioned previously, consumed by grief and funeral planning which is exhausting I can tell you.
Sending simple text’s with a x on is enough sometimes.
Try and remember that events through the year such as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Christmas, Birthdays etc are all extremely difficult. Let them know you are there for them if they want to talk and tell them you are thinking of them. Even if you have been lucky enough to have another baby after the loss of another these events are often still very difficult.
Tell them that you will never get tired of hearing them talk about their baby. Even if there isn’t much they can tell you about their baby those few things are the most important bits of story in the world to that person and it’s all they have. Ask them if they want to tell you about their baby.
Tell them you are there and your listening to them.
If you know them well enough, hug them! Although be careful, if you are in public they may not want to hug you through fear of tears starting. I read on the SANDS page that a Dad felt like the hug from his friend felt like he carried some of his pain for a brief moment when he could not.
Don’t take it personally if they start acting strange, grief does funny things to people.
After a while they may feel ready to start ‘facing the world’ so to speak and going for walks or to the shop. Offer to go with them when they are ready, I can tell you doing normal things like that the first time after your baby had died is terrifying. People knew you were having a baby and now you don’t have one……….support is definitely needed for this in case someone says something or if they see a baby. This may be especially important if they have another child who is at nursery or school. They may need help with pick ups and drop offs.
They may need help at some point clearing away or sorting through their baby’s things. Personally I wanted rid before I got home from the hospital I think. However some people I know shut the door on the nursery and didn’t feel like they could sort it or look at it for months. Either way, tell them you can help if they want help.
If they have other children around you could offer to have them sometimes to give the grieving parents a break.
“I can’t imagine how your feeling”
“I don’t know what to say except that I’m sorry”
“I’m sorry to hear about your baby”
Now I realise that at the end of the day that people are just trying to help, but in those early days / weeks there are just some things that you just don’t want to hear at all. Don’t hug them and tell them it will be ok because it won’t, their baby died. Believe me watching your baby die is bloody traumatic and right now that person who’s going through pain that believe me you can not even begin to imagine in your worst nightmares……..they need support. They need someone who can guide them through that first awful year after loosing a baby, and every year after that. It’s still hard 4 years on but it’s even harder in the beginning, so if god forbid you ever come across someone who’s baby has died then I hope you remember this blog and that it not only helps them but that it helps you too. So please please be there for them, ask them the baby’s name, never say at least and remember their baby existed. Send cards, flowers, texts, charity donations, memorial gifts, just please be there for them. They are going through something that 1 you can not begin to imagine and 2 I hope you never do.
P.S. A huge huge huge thank you to all my friends and family who have been there for me and for the new friends that I have made along the way. Without you I wouldn’t have made it. A special thank you to my husband, without you Ste I would never have even got dressed again and got out of bed, you kept me going and made me strong againand for that I can’t thank-you enough. I dread to think where I could have got to without you by my side. You were strong for both of us. Love you always my gorgeous husband and our precious angel baby Ethan.
It’s that time of year again where it all starts again…….