There isn't one part of this list I don't agree with
1. First and foremost TALK about the loved one who's passed. Even if it uncomfortable at first, it will become easier.
2. If you didn't know the person at all or very well, ask to hear about them and learn of them through stories.
3. Don't ever put a time line on someone's grief.
4. Saying things like, "They are in a better place," or "This too shall pass..." really isn't comforting. It makes the bereaved feel like the place they had with them wasn't good or that the pain will go away eventually.
5. If you don't know what to say, just say, "I'm SO sorry you have to go through this."
6. If the person needs to analyze the circumstances surrounding the death, let them just talk and rehash anything as many times as they need to.
7. Don't assume they are ever "better." It never gets better and will be a part of them for the rest of their lives.
8. Don't underestimate how frazzled, absent minded & spacey grief can make you.
9. Pamper them if you have means. Retail Therapy works great! So did pedicures and getting my hair done, I felt awful on the inside, at least I could try to feel good about me on the outside.
10. Love notes. Emails. Thinking of You cards. Thinking of the bereaved person cards.
11. Do not, I stress Do not get offended if your loved one doesn't answer his/her phone or return your calls. Don't assume that they don't appreciate your effort. It's just that someone bereaved doesn't want to put on a "happy voice" and burden everyone with their grief.
12. Most bereaved people will not offer information on how they are doing unless they truly feel like youwant to know.
13. Validate.Validate.Validate. Please whatever you do, don't compare your loved ones loss to someone else’s' "harder loss". Every loss is hard. Comparing makes the person feel like they shouldn't struggle because it could be worse.
14. Serve. Even the littlest bit of service makes a huge impact.
15. Just make sure they know you love them. Be a shoulder to cry on.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
My husband has been inspired to get something going that will help future babies. It can potentially change doctor's awareness of fetal deaths, which will lead to better prenatal care. Check it out! And if you have any research to link to his blog, let me know. Ideas also welcome!
Sunday, February 7, 2010
Yesterday I remembered some precious counsel given early concerning the deaths of my children. I thought it was a good time to share.
With Jackson, my stillborn, a personal experience revealed that his death was linked to my husband and I realizing our destiny in life. His death is a part of our “mission”, whatever that is. Knowing that has given me immense peace. Still, I am not far enough down the road to see the destiny, the mission, the job, the work, or whatever it is that we are to do. And of course, still, my heart is broken. Knowing there is a purpose to a trial does not exempt anyone from the painful process. It in no way lessons the loss or shortens the required road.
A few months after Claire died, I got mastitis, a painful breast infection. It was a serious complication of only being able to pump. The mucus was green (TMI, I know) and indicated that I might soon be back in the OR for a quick surgery to clean out the infection. I was terrified at the thought of going back to that place. I asked my husband for a blessing.
In the LDS church, a blessing is like a super charged prayer. Through it, you can receive physical healing or strength or verbal answers to big questions. We can always pray privately and receive such answers as well. But sometimes there is a desire for more and the Priesthood is a channel to get more. I believed that Blue, using his priesthood could tune in to a higher power. He placed his hands on my head and clearing his mind, related to me words that our Father in Heaven spoke.
I did not tell Blue all that was on my heart. I seldom do, being so private! I tell him a lot. But not every little fear or question in my mind. What I was looking for in the blessing was that I would not have to go back to the OR, or else some peace about it if I had to. My anxiety was out of control! In the blessing I did get my answers concerning mastitis, and my anxiety was gone. But that was not all. Blue went on to say that someday answers would come to the many questions I had inside. The part I recalled yesterday: that there was a progression taking place, and the end result led to joy and happiness.
Joy? Happiness? I heard it and knew that it came from my Father and not my husband. But was He crazy? He must be crazy. There was NO way I could ever be fully happy again. Not now, not after I had to watch my daughter fight so hard for life and death.
I thought, “Maybe, maybe I could one day have been happy again after Jackson died, but this is too much. I am beyond happiness. My life is all about survival now. Maybe you’re not aware of how much I loved those babies and how much exactly it tore me apart to lose them. Maybe You don’t realize how much was at stake for my family with Claire.”
“Oh Lord, You’re not kidding when You say that Your thoughts are not my thoughts and Your ways are not my ways. I will try to trust you here, but I think You’re plum crazy to take two big babies from me and think it’s going to lead me to happiness.”
Some people might think I am blasphemous to think such things. Others may think I am dumb to participate in any type of prayer or conversation at all. I have seldom been blindly faithful. I have quite a few questions and some of my own opinions. I get angry with God sometimes. I don’t get Him and I ask LOTS of questions. I almost laughed out loud when Blue said the words about this being part of a plan for happiness. I tell the Lord of these doubts because it’s not like I could hide them from Him anyway.
Then I hold on to the words of promise. I believe. I try to do my part, discern my purpose. I wait, knowing as I said that I can’t cheat the process or earn a reward without the work.
Yesterday, when that promise came back to me, I decided to share it. It will no doubt be a LONG time before I can say that I am soooo happy and that all is well. I don’t even know if this blog will survive that long. But I want to throw it out there. He said that there is a plan that I don’t understand that will lead to joy and happiness, two things that I can honestly say I haven’t had a ton of in my life. I cannot change the past. I am resigned to look for my place in this future. So far there’s a lot of work: the day to day grind or living with deep reaching grief, caring for a depressed child, letting go or readjusting goals and dreams, losing and gaining relationships, seeking to understand as well as to be understood, living with emptiness, living isolated, physically recovering…
It’s hard to see good in the midst of the work. But I trust the process. I lately have thought, maybe so many things in my life have to die to make room for something new and better. Maybe this is pulling weeds and tilling the garden because something beautiful is going to grow. God knows better what I need than I do.
I want it to all be documented. I want to be able to share it all, not just the flowers. Because I think it doesn’t mean as much to flout blessings after they are realized and say, “I knew God would do something great. I just knew it. I remember a blessing when He said He would and look – He did.” Those type of things make good stories, but I want more. I want to connect with others with pain and sorrow, others who are pushing through a darkness seeking for a light. It’s such a hard process and not being alone makes it easier. I think if you are not willing to look at the ugly, you won’t be able to truly see the beautiful. I think if you have never felt pain, you can’t enjoy feeling wonderful, if you have never battled sickness you can’t appreciate and enjoy health. If I only posted the good days, the days I have peace and faith, and good friends surrounding me, I would certainly LOOK good, but what would that do for anyone but myself? People long to be understood in their pain and weakness, because it’s there that character is truly tested and that’s where we find ourselves in need of others. That’s where we have the opportunity to meet God, to be used for His greater good, to gain confidence in ourselves and our friendships, Him, and this mysterious life.