I saw it on Facebook.
My heart stopped as I read of the passing of another child that was the heart of one of my friends.
A child they prayed for.
A child they had yet to meet.
A child who was loved and desired, and would have been one of the most spoiled children on the planet Earth.
My heart broke into a million places as I sent her a quick message and then shut down the computer. I knew all too well how incredibly painful it was to live day after day knowing you were silently a mommy to many, but your arms would ache to hold them.
I know also, that her hardest days are ahead. When the dust settles down, and the flood of people sending her messages right now come to a trickle, that is when I would reach out to her again.
You see, I understand both sides of that issue all too well. 14 losses, 14 precious beautiful children that I have had the blessing of carrying, and yet had to say goodbye to.
I know all too well the days andÂ years afterwards as well.
The empty seats around the table at holidays, and the feeling that someone is missing. Not enough presents under the tree, or too few stockings hung on the mantle. Right away it is the too quiet evenings when you would normally be holding a baby walking the floors to help them sleep. The way your body totally rebels and brings milk for a baby that is not even there, or people ask you if you are expecting…and it is just your post-miscarriage body. Later on it can even be watching the living children you have hitting milestones, and it bringing tears as you realize those babies you carried will never achieve those same things.
It is hard. And if you have not gone through a miscarriage, let me tell you a little more.
First there is the shock of the loss, and trying to accept it. Knowing, if you haven’t already started, that the process will be more drawn out as you walk through the time of passing the body of the baby you prayed for or even felt movement of. Some women, including myself, have had to go through labor to finish that end. And it is brutal.
But honestly, the hardest part is when everyone else moves on…and you can’t.
In the beginning…when people say things that hurt when they are meaning just to help, you try really hard to simply chalk up to awkwardness and thank them anyhow. So please, don’t add to that burden. Moms who have gone through a loss simply need a hug, or a word of love like “I am so sorry you are going through this.” Phrases that come back to haunt us are ones like: “Its ok, you’re young and can have another child. ” or “They are happy in the arms of Jesus right now. ” or even “They are in a better place now. “
We know you mean well. We do.
But it feels like you just ripped our chest open and took what was left of our broken heart. Some of us carry those words so deep we have to physically force ourselves to move past them via counseling. If we are moms who go through multiple miscarriages, we begin to feel like there is something wrong with us that we can not “simply have another one. ” Does that sound childish and needy to you when I say those things? Its not. Moms who have gone through the loss of a child are some of the strongest women I am blessed to know. Its just that our culture is incredibly uncomfortable with facing that death is often a part of life. That miscarriage happens. That we can, and should for our health, talk about it. But we need to do it and face it in our own time.
In the beginning…when they avoid you a little bit because you know they are not even sure WHAT to say, then you simply let it go. It hurts. Believe me, it hurts. You wonder if they care enough to acknowledge that you just lost your child, or if they are just really too busy to notice.You begin to wonder if you should even be thinking about it or dwelling on it. Often you silence yourself and try to bury it because you don’t want to be the person who drags everyone else down. We try to walk through that. But in the darkest time of your life, would you want someone ignoring you, or even ignoring your pain? Of course not. Just be there. You don’t even have to say anything. I promise. Sit outside on the porch with your friend. Bring her lunch or coffee. Put flowers on her table and sign your name. Such simple things, but honestly, they are huge in her life.
Let me tell you about the very hardest days, though, as a mom who has experienced many losses..
When you watch other friends go on with their lives, and it is almost like you are alone in the universe because your world has stopped, then those are the very hardest days too. You see, for your friend who just lost her baby, she lost her future too, for a little while. Everything was changed in one instant when she found out she was expecting. She began to make plans, to dream, to choose names. She probably decided to change her eating/drinking/exercise habits to reflect that she was expecting a new life. Suddenly, it is like the light went out. And you can’t go back to before. Before will never, ever be the same.
So there is a sort of limbo that she is stuck in….she is no longer “planning to have a family”….she has one.
You cant see it. And she cant hold it.
And that, my friends, is such a hard, hard place to be…..for a very long time.
So please, from a mom who has been there, to the friends of a mom who is going through it….check in with her on week four. Week Eight. Week 120. Really. Send a note on her due date and just tell her you are thinking about her. If you don’t remember the date, just place some flowers on the grave of her child. Believe me, she will know about it. If there is no grave, put some on her table. She may never mention it, but it will break that wall of silence and possibly help her move forward in her own life. Just show up. Bring her something you know she likes. Sit with her and tell her you don’t need to be entertained. That you just came to hang out. And let her talk. Or not. Whatever she wants to do.
Make her or buy her a toy that she can hold in the darkest hours of the night and weep over in memory of her child. Give her something that can sit on a shelf where she can see it every day….an angel figure, a picture, a whatever-you-think-is-appropriate-thing and give it to her with a hug. I guarantee you she will keep it close to her for always.
Time WILL move on. For some of us, it comes easier than it does for others. But grief has a weird, awful way of crashing the party randomly when we least expect it. And we hope you can understand that. Sometimes, if we do carry another child to term and hold that baby in our arms, it can ease some of these feelings of pain.
Sometimes it makes no difference at all.
But let me say, on behalf of the many many women who walk this road, thank you for reading this. You know what that says toÂ me?
It says you are the kind of friend each one of us needs.
Blessings to you and yours