I wrote this blog post last year on November 27 (12 days after our first loss) and have been saving it to post around the time of the one year anniversary of that loss which is coming up on the 15th of this month. I've edited a few things to include the loss of our second child, but kept everything the same.
There have been many times since Audrey Lynn has come and gone that I thought of her or ached for her mother and my best friend/business partner, Melissa, but I was afraid to mention it because I thought, "What if Melissa isn't thinking about Audrey at this exact moment? I don't want to remind her right now and make her sad." But now I know. You aren't reminding the mother and causing her unnecessary sorrow and pain. You're reminding her that you remember what she went through and that you remember her child. Feeling forgotten makes you feel oh so alone. Already I love being asked about my children and I don't anticipate I'll ever stop loving it. Yes, it might make me cry, but don't feel bad. By showing you care you're making me feel more comfortable to open up; you're stepping into my grief. It may not always be a fun place to be, but it's SO appreciated.
So just say something.
I know it can be awkward, and you might not know what to say. It'd be easier for you if you just ignored it and acted like it didn't happen. BUT IT DID HAPPEN. It's out of your control. You don't need to say something profound; there's really nothing profound you can say. You just need to sincerely let me know you're sorry and that you're praying for me. You don't need to give me advice or try to make me feel better. Just knowing you care feels so good and helps more than most other things you could say.
When we announced we were pregnant on Facebook for our first pregnancy (we didn't announce our second pregnancy) not even a week before we lost the baby, we received over 500 likes and comments. A handful of people directly wrote on my wall congratulating me. It's wonderful to feel so much support and excitement when your baby is alive. But it's vital to receive support when you lose your baby. I received more text messages when we announced we were going to have a baby than when we announced our baby had died. Not even everyone who had sent me a congratulatory text sent me one containing their condolences. When we announced our pregnancy I was so excited because so many other couples we knew were also pregnant. But when you have to announce a loss, you already feel so alone and I didn't expect to receive less support than we had received not even a week before causing me to feel even more alone.
I didn't write this post to make anyone feel bad, because in the instances man didn't meet up to my expectations, God certainly did. He sent me friends with the perfect thing to say at the perfect time. He used people to comfort me that I wouldn't have expected and it has been such a rich and deep experience. I feel like my heart could burst with love for the ones that try to understand and kept reaching out to me even if I didn't initially respond.
They don't want advice, they want to feel loved.
I wrote this post to help women in the future who lose a child. No matter how they lose their child, I can almost guarantee they want you to recognize their child and what has happened. They want you to be sad with them. And if a week, a month, a year, or a decade after their loss you find yourself thinking about it, reach out to her again and ask her how she's doing. About two days after we had told the world we had lost our baby I felt like the vast majority of people in my life had moved on and expected me to move on as well. It was so hard.
So don't be afraid to say something because I can tell you personally how much each text, card, Facebook message, etc. meant to me and still does. I would much rather feel overwhelmed with love and support than to feel forgotten. After Michael announced that we had lost the baby on Facebook it took time for me to even read what people said or to open up text messages that were sent to me. But knowing that love and support was there waiting for me when I felt ready to look at it was very comforting. I finally read the comments and texts, and it still took some time to reply to everything. It was very overwhelming to me. But if no one had said anything I would have felt overwhelmed in a completely different and very negative way.
With all of that being said I want this post to serve as a thank you to anyone who reached out to Michael or me. The Lord truly used you to comfort us! You were/are living out the gospel in our lives. I commend you for ever reaching out to any woman who has experienced any type of loss in the past or in the future. And remember, it's never too late to say something. Don't think that just because weeks or months have gone by since the loss that the mother will no longer appreciate it, she always will.