Saturday, January 31, 2009

What I've learned about grief

During my two miscarriages there were many people who aided Ryan and I in our grief.

There were also those that did not know how to acknowledge our miscarriage or didn’t understand our loss, and as a result, were not able to support us during our times of grief.

There were friends who called me on the phone crying, saying “I don’t have any idea what to say other than I am so so sorry, I love you and I’m praying for you.”

There were friends that came over just to be with us. Friends that told us jokes to make us laugh and forget our sorrow for a few minutes. Friends that sat with us and allowed us to ask the hard questions. We didn’t have the answers. They didn’t have the answers, but they knew we needed to voice them as we processed our grief.

There were friends that brought us meals or gave us small gifts to remember our little ones. One dear friend dropped off a care package at my door filled with comfy PJs, chocolate, a book and other small items – just to show me she cared even though she couldn’t take my pain away.

One day we found a grocery bag on our back step filled with ingredients and recipes to make some fall baked goodies. They knew I loved to bake and this was a beautiful way to touch my heart and let me know they cared about our family.

As I think about times of loss and grief in our lives, I often think about Job when he lost all of his children, livestock and everything he owned. This passage is a beautiful example of how to support one another in times of grief:

Job 2:11-13 “When Job's three friends heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.”

Can you imagine in today’s culture going to a friend’s home and sitting with them for SEVEN days and not saying one word? Not one? This passage is so precious to me because it is their presence alone that ministers to Job – not their words.

This list may not apply to everyone, but this is what I have learned through my experiences...

What is helpful after a miscarriage:
Sending a card.
Calling to say I care about you, I love you or I’m praying for you.
Letting the person know that you don’t know what to say.
Sending an e-mail to let them know you are thinking about them.
Offering to do something – drop off a meal or bring them a movie or watch their other children if they have children.
Ask them questions about how they are feeling or doing. If they don’t want to talk about it they’ll tell you that. But please ask. We want to know you care enough to ask.
Give them a book on dealing with grief or loss.
Drop off a care package or a memento in memory of their little one.


What is hurtful after a miscarriage:
Not acknowledging the loss at all.
Telling the person, “At least you know you can get pregnant.”
Telling them, “Don’t worry. You’ll get pregnant again soon.” Please don’t promise anything that hasn’t come straight from the Word of the Lord.
Trying to say things to comfort them that could potentially just be painful. Sometimes there are no words – just hugs and tears.
Saying, "Let me know if there is anything I can do." This is a very generic and impersonal thing to say. Instead, think of something specific and just do it.
Telling stories of other people who miscarried and then went on to have bus loads of kids.

I often recall a talk that I heard Beth Moore give (can you tell I am a Beth Moore fan?), where she said that just because something is truth, does not mean it is appropriate to say at all times. For example, when someone has just experienced a painful loss, it is not appropriate to tell them that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him. It might be truth, but it is not necessary at that point in time. Save it for when the pain and grief are not raw.

I’ll conclude this very long posting with a beautiful quote that is full of truth: “While every act of compassion, sympathy and love shown to us by others can be a great comfort and help to lift us out of our grief, only the healing touch of God can completely restore us again.”

For anyone, suffering any type of pain or loss, praying for the healing touch of God to completely restore them is, by far, the most loving act any one of us can do for another.

6 comments:

Stacey said...

Amen to all of this, Stacy. What a powerful passage about grief (and friendship) from Job. This is such a practical and helpful post that I'd like to link to soon from my own blog, if you wouldn't mind.

Anonymous said...

Stacy,

I love reading what you write - you always give me strength.

Niki

kim said...

Excellent, excellent, excellent post. I love the passage from Job.

Hucklebuck said...

Stacy,

We have heard every thing on the "what not to say" list.

I love that passage from Job. And I love my friends that are like Job's friends. During our miscarriages I have been surprised though by who was really a friend to us. Those that I thought would be there to help didn't say a word. Then there was one friend who packed up her child and drove 3 hours just to stay a couple of days to cook and clean for us.

Stacey said...

Just wanted you to know that I linked to this post today from my blog. Thanks for the permission! Such a great post.

(P.S. Your "Hucklebuck" commenter is my hubby.) :)

Kathryn said...

May i add a couple of things?

Saying "You can have another child" negates the love for & life of THIS child. Even if there are more children later, this child existed & was wanted.

The second, the parents don't forget. Even if there are other children, it doesn't make the one(s) lost non-existent. And if there are no more children, the parents don't forget those anniversaries. Our daughter would be 2-1/2. It doesn't go away.