Things you can do:
- Offer to take them meals
- Offer to do holiday shopping
- Offer to go pick up any 'direct-to-store' items for them
- Offer to help with the clearing away
- Ask if they need any specific help, then PLEASE follow through
- Put away their deceased child's belongings, or, in the case of miscarriage/stillbirth, put away or ask to have anything they purchased for the baby.
- Get terse with them when they excuse themselves from holiday functions.
Things to say:
- I'm sorry.
- I don't know what to say.
- I'm here if you need me(but be able to back that up).
- Would you like to talk about your baby(or, even better, use their child's name if you know it).
- If you've had a loss yourself, then you can ask if they would like to meet up for coffee and talk, or if they would like info about support groups and such.
- Remember, their child was a person, no matter how young their child was, they will always feel the ache of that loss. Don't refer to their baby as 'it'. The worst thing is thinking that your baby didn't matter to anyone. Please, address their child by name. They may cry. Be compassionate enough to understand why, and console them. Let them know that you value their child, no matter how brief their life was. It's so cruelly unfair to lose a child....and then it feels like you get dealt another blow when people refuse to acknowledge your child.
- Well, it was just God's will(throat punch)!
- God has great plans for you....and continuing on through the verse(kidney punch)!
- God won't give you more than you can handle(temple stab)!
- Well, at least it happened now, and not when they were_____(I'll rip your heart out for saying this because there is never an age at which it is easy for a mother to lose her baby)!
- In fact, aside from praying for God to give them peace and the ability to endure this tragedy, leave the God 'sayings' out of it. I don't think of God that way. God is my father, my creator. He is not a celestial bubblegum machine that you put a quarter into and then get your wish. He's not some magical man in the sky that wanders around granting desires for some, while cruelly snatching things away from those that are the most deserving. Like any parent, God loves us. Unconditionally, regardless of our bad behavior. He will lift us up from our suffering, and rejoice in our happiness. I'm not a great mom, but I love my children more than anything. I would never LET them get hurt, but they have gotten hurt with me sitting right there with them, because I can't prevent life from happening and I can't protect them from everything, no matter how hard I try. God would never let one of his children be hurt, but we can't be protected from everything, especially how frail and fleeting life can actually be.
- So, at least you know you can HAVE children/when will you be trying again/are you having this baby to 'replace' the one you lost? There are so many things wrong with all of those, that , suffice to say, the death stare is the nicest thing you'll get!
Also, there are many families that are struggling or mourning with a completely empty table. They are struggling with infertility and the holidays can be impossibly hard for them as well. Do not tell them you are jealous, or how much fun it must be without children. The would gladly take your chaos, your minivan, and your permanently stained yoga pants for the chance to hear a child call them 'mommy'. Also, the pull for a biological child is amazing...the biological clock is a crazy thing. Don't fault someone for wanting biological children or being hesistant about adoption(especially when adoption can cost crazy money....and the biological parents can back out leaving parents heartbroken). Also, for some, adoption makes itself available in a way that they decide to forgo fertility treatments in favor of adoption. Do NOT fault them for deciding that they don't need to pass on their DNA and would prefer to adopt!
I know this wasn't a particularly 'fun' post. It's not a fun subject. But this does need to be talked about. The holidays can be a constant reminder of what some people are missing out on, whether it's a caring family, friends, and even a child. We're all fighting, we're all struggling, but we're all in this together. So, if you're out, and you see a woman struggling to keep it together(or anyone for that matter)offer them a kind word or a cup of coffee. Little things really are huge and can make a big difference for EVERYONE. That's what the holidays are really all about!