sharing your stories and remembering your children
By: Nick Carrington EPLA Editor
I felt Helpless. Utterly helpless. I had just received news that my brother and sister-in-law had lost their child, and I had no idea how to respond. My heart ached for them, but in that moment, I realized how little I knew about miscarriage or the social etiquette surrounding it.
I sat in my office at work staring out the window, radically unprepared for how to provide even the smallest bit of comfort to my mourning family. What do you say to a couple in the broken aftermath? What words could offer even the slightest balm to hearts inflamed with grief?
There are no words. So, I looked out the window, breathless, anxiously tapping on the desk. Helpless.
I’ve lost three other nieces or nephews since that time and learned a lot about how to respond. While there are not any perfect responses, we can all be part of the healing process for our loved ones, both immediately following the loss and for years to come.
The pain is obviously intense for a couple right after they find out about their child’s death. The mother must cope with both emotional and physical trauma, and both parents may be juggling work and home life with additional but unexpected stress. Loved ones can help ease the couple’s burdens in several ways.
Help with day-to-day needs
Loss families have so much to deal with in the aftermath of a miscarriage, that they need help with basic things like meal preparation. If you can, set up a meal train that will relieve the hassle of buying and preparing food. Make sure you identify any foods the family cannot eat or does not want. Bringing them food will also alleviate their financial burden slightly as they pay medical bills, and they will not have to worry about what to eat for a while.
You might also offer to mow a loss family’s lawn, rake leaves, tend to their garden, shovel snow, or do some household chores. These tasks still need completed, but they can become arduous as couples pick up the pieces from child loss.
Send gifts of remembrance
Sending a gift to a loss family is a tangible way of honoring their child. Buy a bracelet or necklace with the child’s birth stone, or if the family named him or her, engrave something with the that name on it. You can find lots of other gift ideas on Amazon or Etsy.
The family will appreciate the gesture, and it’s a good way to let them know you are grieving that child as well. The gift doesn’t have to be expensive; it just needs to show the family you care.
I had the desperate feeling to do something, anything, in the aftermath of losing each of my four nieces or nephews, but even as time passes, I learned that loved ones can do a lot of good in this lifelong healing process.
Remember miscarried children on holidays and due dates
The holidays are a great time to honor loss parents and their children. If you have family members who have lost children, find ways to incorporate them into family traditions by hanging a stocking, placing a special ornament, or giving a gift that commemorates the child. These tributes will help loss parents know that you love their children, whether those little ones are there to celebrate or not.
Father’s and Mother’s Day can be especially difficult for parents grieving a miscarriage. To assuage that sorrow, take loss parents out to dinner or send them something to affirm the fact that they are parents. We should celebrate them just as we celebrate other mothers and fathers on these days.
If you know the due date of the lost child, send some encouragement through a card, text, or phone call on this day. Observing due dates is a lot like celebrating birthdays. The parents won’t have forgotten this date, knowing that instead of celebrating a life around that time, they are mourning a death.
Donate time or money to organizations working to help families who have miscarried
We have so much work to do to change the conversation surrounding miscarriage and care for the needs of affected families. A tremendous tribute to miscarried children is to donate time or money to an organization that works to address these issues. You may consider giving financially in the name of the child or loss family. While we would love to receive your gifts at the EPLA, we appreciate the work of like-minded organizations as well:Together, these organizations and others like it can make a difference in the lives of hurting families.
Find Ways to Show You Care
We all want to see our loved ones heal following the loss of a child. While we may not know what to say, we can show loss families that we love them – even the children we never got to hold – by meeting their needs and remembering their children. If we must grieve, let’s grieve together.
Nick Carrington is an Editor for the EPLA and Assistant Professor of Professional Writing at Cedarville University