April 8, 2013

Mother's Day for the Grieving and Hurting

Over the years I have come to deeply appreciate the friends (and strangers) in my life who are willing to go out on a limb and do or say something that recognize my losses.  I know that on their part they took a risk in doing or saying something that they must have wondered could have upset me or turned me off.  

But they always do the opposite- they endear me to them and serve as sweet reminders that though not everyone can know what it’s like to walk the road I have, they can walk a few steps on it with me and in turn become a part of the healing my heart is longing for.

With Mother’s Day just around the corner and knowing that so many of you know someone who has had a pregnancy loss or is struggling with infertility, I wanted to share some ideas on how you might be able to walk a few steps with these women and make what can be a dreaded day one that reminds them they are loved and thought of.
  • Give them a card, or write them a note.  I always vote for something hand-written because it’s something that they can come back to again and again, especially on days when they feel alone in their pain and need a reminder that others are carrying some of this hurt with them.  
  • Give them a hug.  It’s amazing just how much physical touch can communicate without any words being said and the emotions it can bring out.  So don’t be alarmed or ashamed if in giving a hug to someone who has lost a baby or is struggling with infertility you pull back and see tears.  Those tears are necessary and are a part of their healing.
  • Give them a gift.  It could be flowers or something personal like a necklace or charm.  I have been the recipient of a few beautiful necklaces that pay tribute to my babies and my mother’s heart.  I do not wear them every day, but even just to look at them is such a sweet gift.  One year a friend sent me two felt birds in the mail on the Mother’s Day after my second miscarriage and now birds have been a way that we commemorate the lives and losses of our babies- each year we put our 6 felt birds on our Christmas tree.  And in turn, I have given a few friends who have lost babies their own felt birds to remember their babies by.  For one friend, I knew the months her babies were due to be born, so I did birds in the colors of those months’ birthstones.  Etsy has so many choices for customized jewelry and things like felt birds and at very affordable prices
  • Say something.  Anyone who has lost a baby or who has struggled with infertility will tell you that one of the hardest parts about it is that so often their pain goes unrecognized.  You can imagine how Mother’s Day only heightens that pain.  Don’t worry about saying anything profound or uber-spiritual.  Just saying “I know this day must be hard for you.  I love you and I am thinking of you” goes a long way.
If you know the name of your friend’s baby who passed away, then say their name, write it in your card or note, or considering using it on a necklace or other commemorative gift.  While this may seem like something that would be far too upsetting for a woman, it is actually just the opposite.  When a woman has lost her baby and has given them a name that they have shared with others, saying or writing that baby’s name only helps her to feel that others acknowledge her loss and are entering into some of her mourning.  It’s a beautiful thing you are doing, I promise.

And these are things you can do any time of the year.....you can never communicate enough to a woman who has lost a baby or is struggling with infertility that you are thinking of them.

One last thought: If you are a part of a church community and have noticed that women who have lost babies or are in the throws of infertility are not recognized, then ask your church leadership to do something on Mother's Day that acknowledges these women.  At our church, we give flowers to all of the moms and the ones who have lost babies get white ones.  We also say something from the front that pays tribute to moms who have children to hold in their arms and that also acknowledges the women have lost or are still waiting for their own children.  It's simple but very meaningful.

No comments: