Wednesday, March 20, 2013

What do I say?????

"My friend just lost their baby.  What do I say to them?  What do I do?"  This is a post that I have been meaning to write for some time now.  I wish I didn't need to.  I wish I didn't get this question as often as I do.  Losing a baby is something that I wish nobody else ever had to experience, but we live in a fallen world.  A world in which there is sickness and death.  When someone you love loses a baby you want to help, but you may have no idea what to say or what to do.  There have been several times that I have referred people to this series by Molly Piper about how to help a grieving friend.  It was always hard for me to imagine being in a place where I would be able verbalize my own feelings about what helped me the most during my time of grief.  I remember feeling like I would always be the one needing help and that I would never be able to give advice to others, but here I am.  I miss my Isaac.  I think about him every single day and I still have my moments of sitting in my room just crying because I wish my baby boy was here.  It's different now, though.  My emotions don't overwhelm me as often.  My head isn't in a continuous state of fogginess.  I don't feel the constant pit in my stomach.  I feel like I'm ready.  Ready to help others help others (clear as mud, right?)  Some of this may be similar to what Molly talks about on her blog, but this is what I found to be the best for me.

1.  Be Sincere - This is so, so very important.  People can tell when you truly care about them and when you're just doing something because you feel like you have to or you're worried about your appearance.  They know that you may not know what to say, so just say exactly that.  Saying something like "I really wish I had the words to say right now, but nothing seems right.  Just know that I love you so much and am here for you if you need anything" can be just what the person needs to hear.  If they were able to physically hold their baby asking specific questions about that experience is a really good thing.  Your honesty and sincerity will show and your friend will feel so loved and comforted by that.

2.  Remember that each situation is different - It's true that you may have lost someone very close to you, but saying "I remember how sad I was when my dog died" is not really going to help your friend.  There are definitely instances in which sharing your own story is completely appropriate and may be very helpful, but just be aware of whether or not the time is right.  We live in such a competitive world that unfortunately I think we even try to compete when it comes to who has the sadder story.  Turning this time into one of competition is not what you want to do.  Acknowledging that their own story is unique and important will really mean a lot to them.

3.  Ask the hard questions - If this is a very close friend of yours it may be necessary to ask some really difficult questions.  For example, my friend that I mention on here often, Heather asked me one evening, about a month before Isaac was born, if I had thought about what I wanted his memorial service to be like.  It meant so much to me that she had the courage to talk to me about this.  Not only did it remind me that I probably should start thinking about these details, but it also showed that she truly cared.  A mommy wants to plan and prepare for their baby, even if it's not in the way she would have hoped for.  Heather would also frequently ask me about clothes I was taking to the hospital for Isaac to wear or when I was going to make Kadynce a "Big Sis" shirt for when he was born.  I know talking to me about these things was not easy, but by doing it she was telling me that she loved my Isaac and she loved me.  She was treating him just as she would any of my children, but not denying the fact that he was very sick and probably would not live for long.

4.  Be Positive - I realize that our specific situation was a little different in that we knew ahead of time that Isaac would probably not survive for long outside of the womb.  We made the decision very early on that we were going to approach his life with a positive attitude and find joy in this blessing that the Lord had given us.  I still really appreciate when people talk to me about Isaac in a positive manner.  I received a text from a friend the other day that said she was thinking about Isaac and it made her smile.  This absolutely made my day.  He was and is my baby and he brought me more joy than I ever thought possible.  If the family you know is making an effort to approach the situation with joy it is important to be respectful of that and to try to do the same, even if you may not understand.

5.  Don't be afraid to cry - On the flip side, one of the things that honestly meant the most to be is when people would cry with me.  Not out of pity and not out of just feeling sorry for me, but because they were truly taking on some of my pain and grief.  There are times that your friend will need someone to be strong for them and keep their composure for sure, but there are also times that they need to see that you really are hurting for them.  I'm not talking about falling apart into a sobbing mess, but just being vulnerable and real.

There are so, so many others ways that you can help those going through this time of grief.  These are some of the ones that I consider the most important and maybe something that you haven't thought of before.

Something I also wanted to say before ending this post is to never downplay your role as "friend" in a person's life.  Heather attended part of the session for those that have lost children at the Dotmom conference with me.  When she told one of the ladies that she was "just there as my friend" the sweet lady told her not to downplay that role.  I thought this was a wonderful thing to say and important to remember.  Even if the person going through a loss has a wonderful family, they need the support of their friends.  Don't just assume that because their family is there everything is taken care of emotionally and physically.  We have an AMAZING family that supported us and loved on us better than we could have ever imagined.  You know what though?  They grieve too.  I have to believe that when they know that their daughter or son has a good support system in their friends it helps their grieving process as well.


  1. Kacie- Thank you so much for this! I have a friend who went to her 38 week check-up and was told her baby boy had no heartbeat. It is almost the one year mark of his birth, and I have wondered lately how to approach this with her. Thank you so much for your sweet, sincere words...and thank you for your faith! You show an amazing strength that I know comes from your walk with Christ, and I learn from you when I read your blog! We continue to send prayers for you and your precious family!

  2. This is such good advice. Thank you for posting.