I have been weepy all morning. I just found out that a ward (congregation) member lost their sweet baby boy last night-- born at 20 1/2 weeks gestation. Of course, it has brings a flood of memories and emotions from the loss of our own two sweet babies. A friend of mine asked me if I had some insight on what she could do for this family. While I can't know exactly what they is going through (everyone has different circumstances surrounding their grief) I did have a lot of thoughts come to me. I thought it might be good to write them here, in case anyone else out there knows someone going through the same thing.
I was blessed to have the most amazing friends and family rally around us through our losses. I am going to copy and paste one of my blog entries about one act of service that was done for our family at the bottom of this. It involved turning our mess of a home into a place where we could feel the Spirit and have some peace. Besides this huge act of service, these are some of the things that meant the most to us at that time:
A friend made a beautiful white dress for Emily to be buried in.
A sister-in-law crocheted beautiful, tiny blankets.
We were given the sweetest little stuffed animals (made for dolls, I believe)-- one to bury with Jacob/Emily, and one to keep for ourselves as a momento.
We were given keepsake boxes to keep all of the memories of that time in-- hospital bracelets, photos, cards, pieces of fabric from blankets/clothes, etc.
I remember well the thoughtfulness of someone we hardly knew (a friend of my mother-in-law) who had a little heart box made with Jacob's name on it. Seeing his name on the box was so precious to me-- it helped me know that other people realized that he was indeed a person, with a name. It was super validating.
We were given CD's of beautiful, uplifting music that I played almost non-stop.
We were given beautiful Willow Tree angels.
So many meals... a HUGE blessing.
Someone dropped a box of paper goods off at our door, with a note saying that they didn't want me washing dishes for awhile. That was such a tender gesture to me.
Lots of cards in the mail. I treasured every one.
Homemade matching bracelets for me, Jessica, and Emily.
Scrapbook materials to make a little scrapbook of their lives. The ladies who gave them to me lovingly cut out any sticker/embellishment that didn't pertain to us (things like "giggles," "first smile," etc.)
Babysitting-- this was a big blessing. It is so hard to grieve when you are taking care of little kids. Picking my kids up for a couple of hours to go on an outing was so good for them and for me.
Flowers. My mom and our friends, the Merediths, still sometimes send flowers on their birthdays. It means so much.
"I'm so sorry," is always appropriate. No, "I know exactly what you're going through," "It was meant to be," or "I'm sure you'll have another baby." Though don't worry too much about saying the wrong thing-- I think it was better for me to have someone say the wrong thing than not acknowledge what had happened. People know that you are well-intentioned and trying to help. (:
Gifts for their gravesides-- pinwheels, little statues, etc.
As therapy and to give back, I wanted to make some tiny blankets for the hospital to give to other parents who lost a baby that was so tiny. Normal infant blankets were so big-- these blankets needed to be much smaller-- maybe 18 inches square. I told my friends at church, and many of them made blankets and brought them over. I attached little notes that said, "For your tiny angel-- in memory of my own."
These are just some things off the top of my head. I am so grateful for such caring people who loved us through these super difficult times. If you are one of them, THANK YOU.
I also had a couple of other thoughts on how to act with someone who is going through a loss like this. I know that everyone feels differently-- this is just how I felt. I personally wasn't able to talk on the phone for a LONG time with the exception of maybe one or two people. But I did read my emails and really appreciated them. It was a good way to communicate for me. I liked when people asked me, "Would you like a meal or would you like (insert another service)"... giving me a choice rather than just a blanket, "What can I do?" Also, many people were nervous to talk about it all with me, even for a long time afterward. I really appreciated when people would not only talk about it, but also mention our babies by name. I know that there is the worry that you will bring up something that is hard and makes someone sad, but trust me-- parents who lose a child are thinking about them ALL THE TIME. You don't need to worry about "reminding" them. For me, at least, it was and is ALWAYS good to talk about them. It makes me know that other people are thinking of them too, and remembering them. So important.
If you are interested, you can read more about our Jacob and Emily by clicking on their names on the left sidebar under "Labels". Here is the entry I talked about:
Sept 28, 2008
Well, I wasn't really going to journal about Emily-- because the
emotions are still so personal and even if I wanted to share them, I
really don't have the words. But I've been looking at her slideshow
over and over, reminiscing about the days surrounding her birth and I
thought it may be therapeutic to write down just a couple of the sweet
experiences I was given during such a hard time.
I found out that
Emily had passed away just a couple of weeks after finding out we were
having a girl. I had been on blood thinner (after Jacob's birth/death
we found out I had a blood clotting disorder) and so the doctors wanted
me to wait 48 hours before delivering her so I could get the blood
thinner out of my system. So for two days, I knew she wasn't alive--
but was sent home without delivering her. Those two days were, in a
word, a nightmare. I was completely dysfunctional and my house
completely fell apart. I had just gotten a large box of maternity
clothes from my sister and that first night I threw the clothes, one by
one, around the room in a mad rage. I didn't pick up one toy or one
diaper or one dish or do ANYTHING besides try to make arrangements for
her casket, dress, etc. Needless to say, my house (which wasn't clean
to begin with) looked like it had been hit with a tornado.
was in the hospital, a dear friend came and borrowed a key from Jeremy.
I guess a phone call from one church friend to another quickly spread,
and when she arrived at our home with the key, mini-vans were lined up
around the block to my home. It was lovingly dubbed "The Mormon Minivan
Brigade." My house was not only cleaned and organized top to bottom,
but all my laundry (we're talking LOADS) was done and the kitchen
stocked. I was at first hugely
embarrassed, but soon realized what an AMAZING blessing had been given
to me. A friend kept the kids the first night we came home from the
hospital, and instead of spending time trying to get my house in some
kind of order after just giving birth, I was able to sit down with
Jeremy in my beautiful home and BREATHE. We spent the night eating a
wonderful dinner, looking through scrapbooks, listening to uplifting
music-- and before the night was over I felt so much peace. So THAT was
a beautiful, tender mercy of the Lord. Thank-you, my dear Tennessee
The morning I went to deliver Emily I went into a total
panic because I couldn't find our camera. I knew from Jacob how
precious pictures would become and became nearly hysterical when it was
time to leave and I still couldn't find it. Jeremy ended up going next
door and borrowing the neighbor's. We took at least 50 pictures of her
at the hospital, and more later at the funeral home when we let Taylor
and Parker hold her. I needed to develop the pictures quickly so I
could return the camera, so I went to Walmart's one hour photo. As I
pulled into the parking lot to pick them up, I starting having a panic
attack. I seriously felt like I couldn't breathe. Up to this point I
hadn't really talked to anyone-- I was staying holed up in my room-- and
was just a mess around people. I was so worried that I would go up to
the counter and some young teenager would pull my photos out of the
envelope for all to see and I would have to actually have to have a
conversation about the pics and try to explain it and I was just
PANICKED. Those pictures were, and still are, so precious and sacred to
me and I didn't want just anyone to see them. I seriously felt like I
would die if I had to look at them with other people around. Well, I
tried to control my hysteria and finally made my way to the back of the
store. There was a HUGE line. They were totally busy. PANIC!!! How
was I not going to have a complete meltdown in the store? I said a
little prayer in my heart and just cringed as I watched the person
behind the counter pull out and flip through the pictures of everyone in
front of me (making sure they were the right pics and they were happy
with them). I finally reached the counter and gave her my slip.
pulled out a big fat envelope with a sticker on it that said $0.00 and
handed it over to me without opening it. She said, "It looks like
there's no charge on these. Please have a good day."
I was able to walk out of the store without saying a word.
Whoever had decided not to charge me for the pictures, also printed doubles and THREE digital CDs.
A tender mercy.
I felt loved.
knew then, beyond a doubt, that my Father in Heaven was aware of my
every need. That He knew me and was holding me and was hurting for me.
It was the simplest gesture-- worth just a few dollars, but it has
never left me. It has made me wonder how often we are the hands of the
Lord. How often does He work through us to accomplish His great
purposes. I have often thought about that compassionate person in the
store who didn't charge me for my pictures. So grateful he or she did
what the Savior would do if He were here.
Am I still enough to hear His promptings? Am I in tune enough to help Him answer the prayers of others?
lot to think about. I am so so thankful for my darling Emily Anne and
the lessons that I have learned through her short little life. These
are just two of the sweet experiences I have had because of her. She
has impacted my life in a profound way. I will absolutely never be the
same because of her, and I am so humbled to have her in my life.
Thank-you Emily, for all you have given me. You and Jacob have done a
tremendous work here on this earth. Thank-you for leading us to China,
and for lighting the way home to heaven. You are my surety with God--
there is nothing I wouldn't do to be worthy to live with you again. I