This is something many have said they don’t know to me.
I don’t know what to say.
I’m scared of saying the wrong thing.
I don’t want to upset you.
Others just plain don’t want to know and don’t care enough to reach outside their comfort zone to be there for you. This is the time of your life you learn who truly cares. That is not a bad thing, it may hurt at the time but it’s not a bad thing I promise.
Here’s a brief outline of what not to say and a few that are good to say and do
not to say forever you can’t but in the initial weeks many things can be taken badly.
- are you feeling better: I was never ill so no (unless the mother was genuinely ill then of course ask away)
- at least the baby isn’t suffering: because everyone would rather a dead child to a live one and in the period of grief you would rather have your child anyway they wish as long as they’re alive.
- at least you can have more children, you’re only young, at least you’ve got other kids: because everyone knows that no child is that important as long as have a different one to take its place……… (insert sarcasm). no child ever replaces another EVER. it doesn’t make it ok and in the initial weeks the thought of another child is almost something you strongly repel against at same as wanting. plus the hospital staff go on enough about the next time without you starting too
- your baby is too precious for this world, god needed his angel back: for me I don’t practice a faith in god so for me this makes me think well god can sod off and give my baby back instead of being a thief. also for me having 2 other children telling me Elva was too precious is well meaning and almost beautiful however it makes me feel my boys drew the short straw they weren’t lucky enough to escape a terrible life with me. It also makes me feel like I should love Elva more when I love my children equally no matter what they do or where they are
- pry this is someones life, someones torture if they want to share details of the death and why let them but not all parents know why and often not so soon after delivery either.
- respect their choices I asked for no mass I’m sorry messages, I requested no quotes, poems or angel art and I didn’t want sympathy cards. I still got all those and I’m not ungrateful however I am unable to face the sympathy cards and someone actually fell out with me because I didn’t reply to her message along with the other 40 I received. This was whilst I was still in hospital after the birth. I stayed in 40 hours after.
- NEVER tell them to move on or get over it parents will hear a lot theres no time limit on your grief and there isn’t. They will never get over it, the grief will never end and they may move on in some ways but they will never stop feeling the pain. Its incredibly insensitive to suggest they should and it puts pressure on the family to act normal. Being there allowing them to open up about how they feel and cry when they need to about it even if thats 5 or 10 years on from the death is the best way to help. You can never understand if haven’t suffered the same but you can be there for them when they need a hug and an ear.
- don’t tell them you’re not ready or able to see baby it’s ok to feel these things and not want to visit but don’t avoid them, don’t shut them out and don’t ever tell them you’re not ready. You think the parents were ready for this? no even those who are told their baby may not live long after birth aren’t ready. we all hope for a miracle and its such a vast thing to go through you can never understand it as the parent, respect this. however be assured the nightmare you imagine in your head is rarely what it is like. you can always ask parents what baby looks like and if you’re allowed to visit. if they feel baby’s appearance may be uncomfortable for you they may mention it at this point.
- don’t ask why why would you name the baby, why would you hold them, why do you care. If you are on my blog you probably care enough not to say these things but maybe you don’t know these are hurtful questions. you don’t have to understand you have to silently accept it or get out
Remember a mummy is a mummy no matter what. Even if her baby dies she is still a NEW mummy with a NEW baby.
- congratulate them: acknowledge her baby, the mummy still wants her baby enthused about, cooed over and to be told congratulations well done
- talk about it: something every parent wants is to show off their baby allow her to do this by listening. ask questions about who baby looks like, how was the birth, whats her name, how much did she weigh.
- try not act too normal at first: some parents want to be normal talk about the weather but others don’t so take their lead, ask them what they want to talk about. ask them if they want to share anything about baby and their experience. A friend asked me questions about how it felt to carry her after she died what the birth felt like she was intrigued how death chances that process and as sad as it was discussing my childs death it made me feel I had something unique to share. something I could talk about that allowed me to connect to my child to my experience and not brush it off
- buy gifts and cards: there are some gifts you can’t obviously buy and no parent wants to see what you planned to give to them for baby. If its something special you made you can always keep it and ask later on. however you can buy a congratulation card, you can buy a new baby balloon, you can buy some posh toiletries or an item for them to keep as a memory. something acknowledging the baby with the baby’s name on. there’s no limit to what you can gift for them and it will make them feel special. They may request no gifts and instead ask people donate money to help others.
- offer help last thing on parents mind is food and cleaning. offer to help with meals with tidying but not force yourself on them just let them know if they need ANY help you are there for them.
- offer to visit baby some parents may not wish this but offer anyway make them feel you want to meet baby. If you do visit then say hello to baby, talk to the baby treat baby as you would if she/he were breathing. Many midwives looked after us and majority said hello to Elva and mentioned about cute and beautiful she was. I love this and it made me feel so proud that I had a gorgeous baby and others thought so too.