Emotional support after losing an infant to stillbirth is so very crucial. Often times, parents in this situation are overlooked because those on the outside do not fully understand the magnitude of this loss. There are so many articles out there about what NOT to say to the parent of a stillborn child; for instance..."At least you know you can get pregnant!"
"There'll be another baby"
"I know exactly how you feel"
or, God forbid,
"Maybe this was all for the best..."
I cringe as I type.
In our case, I would have to respond:
"We were only able to conceive through very expensive medical intervention, so I don't actually know anything"
"You cannot promise me that there will be another baby"
"NO ONE knows exactly how I feel"
"Holy crap, did you really just say that?"
Here are a few things that would most likely be welcome by the parent of a stillborn child:
"I cannot begin to know your sorrow, but I care about you and your child..."
"Because we are friends and I care about you, I will celebrate your child's life with you."
"I'm here for you."
"I don't know what to say. I'm so very sorry for your loss." (YES, it is okay to say this!)
And when the time is right, celebrate this infant by saying his or her name. Speak to the parents about their child; perhaps have a brief chat with your friend about this. Say, "I'd like to talk about your baby with you. Are you comfortable with me saying his/her name?" I know this is a sensitive point, but I LOVE TO SAY ROWAN'S NAME! I WANT to talk about him with people. Just today, at the market, two different ladies asked me about my necklace (my memorial jewelry). I am thrilled to be able to share a little about our sweet baby boy with them. I know my face lights up. I can feel the warmth come up through my chest as his name rolls off my tongue. I enjoy talking about his baby shower, or special moments I had while carrying him within my body.
The support we've received during the past 10 months and 2 days has been tremendous. There are some very special people whose support we'd like to acknowledge. Obviously, my parents, Ro's Nana and Papa, are first and foremost. We receive cards with encouraging words of love and support regularly from a woman from back home who knows the tragic loss of a child; thank you, Kimi. You cannot begin to imagine how meaningful your ongoing support is to us. Fellow babyloss mommas who are relentless with encouragement and support; specifically Lindsey Henke, Sarah Badics Wieland, Bodi Mackay, and Angela Moeller. The Bee Man, Jeff Mello, our amazing friend who always keeps it real and nurtures our positive outlook. Sweet Kate, our neighbor at the market, who always makes us smile! My friends from back home: Tiff, Jenni, Jen, Jodi & Marcie come to mind...all relentlessly our cheerleaders! The amazing Tara and Vince Barletto...ROCK STARS of prayer, kindness, and encouragement. Speaking of prayers, I cannot neglect to mention our warriors Tammy Ulbricht and her friend Janet.
I KNOW I've missed at least a hundred people who deserve mention...surely you know who you are and how much we love and cherish you!!