Sunday, March 22, 2009

How to Help a Grieving Friend

The past couple of weeks I have been in a really tough place with my grief. I think one of the hardest things about that is that for so many, this is all "old news..." and for others, I feel as though they think I should be "doing better" by now. It's almost like there's this pressure to be over it, or in a better place with it all. To be grieving your child is a hard enough, and having that added layer that I have been feeling lately only tends to compound it. I know that the people who want me to be "better" are people who care deeply about me; but I don't think that they realize the pressure and hurt that it adds. It makes me feel as though this loss is something less than it is. And worst of all, it causes me to no longer want to be authentic for fear of judgement or for fear that I'm making other people's lives difficult by still having a hard time with the loss of Isaac... like somehow it's so hard on them that I am still struggling. But they are not the ones whose son has died. Recently, I read an entry on Molly Piper's (daughter-in-law of John Piper) blog about what her grief looks like 17 months after losing her daughter, Felicity. Within that time, she and her husband Abraham have also given birth to another child. You can find her blog post here. When I read it, I was encouraged in some ways...knowing that she is a Godly woman and is still struggling, even after having another healthy baby and even almost a year and a half later... Of course sitting here at 5 1/2 months I would be, too. Another blog friend who lost her twin boys e-mailed me a little while back and shared that around the 5-6 month mark was right when the shock of it all started to wear off and it really started to all sink in. Please know that my intention in sharing this isn't to be critical; I truly do believe that people are well-intentioned and that in wanting me to feel better, to move on, etc, that ultimately, people care about me and Spencer and don't want to see us hurting. But we are. And that is just honest and real. Some days are fine, and some are even good; there are days when we laugh... but many days are still hard. We are making progress with all of this, but at least for me, the past few weeks I feel like I have taken so many steps backwards. But I know that grief is like that. It's not linear progress. It's a roller coaster with ups and downs, twists and turns. It's hard, it's exhausting, and it hurts. For it to be anything less than that wouldn't be real. God has been faithful in being a steady presence in the midst of it all, and I know He will continue to be. The bottom line, though, is that every day I carry around the heart of a mother who longs for her son and misses him more than words could ever convey. And that's a heavy cross to bear. So I want to offer some encouragement to those of you reading who are friends and loved ones of someone who has lost a child. These thoughts come from things that we have found helpful, things that have been hard, and from other blogs I've read that have offered some great suggestions on this. I am definitely no expert or authority on this topic, but just wanted to share some things that we have found helpful. 1. Say something. There are a few people we've encountered who have yet to say anything to us about losing Isaac. They know that it happened, but have avoided it like the plague. That is incredibly hard. If you're not sure what to say, saying "I don't know what to say other than I am so, so sorry" is a great place to start. Bereaved parents what so desperately for their child to be acknowledged. And of course... say something to our Heavenly Father and pray for them. 2. Avoid "Hallmark" responses. This one may seem in direct conflict with #1, but it's true. These types of statements tend to minimize the person's loss. For instance, take the line "When God closes a door, somewhere He opens a window." While that may be true, a grieving parent didn't want the door closed in the first place. They want their child back. And while whatever might be on the other side of the open window might be a good thing, it still doesn't take care of the ache of the closed door of losing a child. It's good to think carefully about statements such as these. While the intention may be to encourage, many "Hallmark" responses have the flaw of minimizing the loss. 3. Choose scripture carefully. I absolutely believe that the Bible is the word of God and that it is true. Every word of it. And there are some great verses of encouragement in there. What can be difficult, though, is realizing that the timing of encouragement from scripture is encouragement. A wise person that Spencer and I know recently shared that he never walks into the room of a grieving person and shares Romans 8:28: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Why not? Because in the midst of the rawness of grief of losing a child, all you want is your child back. I absolutely believe in the truth of this scripture, but am only now getting to the place where this is of encouragement to me. When you lose a child, you often feel forsaken. And bereaved parents want to know they are not alone. So verses focusing on God's love, peace, and Him being near to the brokenhearted are generally good places to look to encourage. The time will come to use verses about God working all things together for good, but in the wake of a child's death isn't the best time because the bereaved parent's heart will likely not be ready to receive it. 4. Know that there is no timetable for grief. Through the books I have read, my conversations with other bereaved parents over e-mail and at the monthly support group I attend, and in discussing this with my counselor, the consensus is the same: people grieve differently and there is no timetable for grief. This is really important to understand. While as a family member or friend, you may feel as though you had your "brief history" with the child who has died and although it was sad, you know you will see them again in Heaven and so now it is time to move on, it's important to realize that it isn't that way at all for the parents whose child has died. For them, it's like a part of them has died. One of the books I read talked about how there's this piece of your heart that was specifically for that child, and that when they died, that piece of your heart was broken off and went to heaven with them. Along with the loss of a child comes the loss of so many other things... I talked a lot about that in my post entitled Ripple Effect. It's also important to know that grief is like a roller coaster, and that it is exhausting. So please, don't hurry your friend or loved one along. It may hurt you to see them struggle, but the best thing you can do is come along side of them and just be with them, letting them know you're there... not to judge, not to analyze it all, not to make them better, but to pray with them and for them, and simply to mourn with those who mourn as we've been encouraged to do in Romans 12. 5. Ask specific questions. I have a friend who is great at this. She listens well, and so she knows what to ask. She doesn't just ask how I am doing... she asks things like, "How was the 7th for you this month?" or "How did things go when you visited the cemetery with your family?" She also isn't afraid to ask me the harder questions... "How are you doing with your anger about this?" More often than not, my brain is mush. There are so many thoughts swirling around, that to only ever be asked "How are you?" would be really hard. Plus, "How are you?" has become just the polite thing to say to each other, often times just in passing. Asking specific questions not only communicates that you are listening well, but it also communicates that you really care and you truly want to know how the person is doing. 6. Know that he/she may not be him/herself. I mean a couple of different things by this. First, know that the grieving parent may be a scatterbrain, may be exhausted, may seem like they're going to explode. Grief is just plain exhausting and it's a lot of work if you're going to grieve well and do the work rather than just stick one toe in then pack it all up in a nice neat box and put it on the shelf. That's when it becomes a ticking time bomb. Just know that your friends who have lost a child are doing the best they can, and that often they really may be exhausted. They may forget things or seem scattered. Be patient with them and know that it's normal. Secondly, it's also important to realize that if you're waiting for the "old Stacy" (or whoever the bereaved parent is) to come back, you may be waiting forever. Losing a child changes your life. It changes everything. That's an explanation for another blog entry at another time, but just know that your friend or loved one will likely be forever changed by the death of their child, and part of navigating grief is figuring out how to integrate the death of your child into who you are and the tapestry of your life. 7. Offer specific, practical help. Your friend or loved one is most likely too tired to ask. Or, if they are at all like me, already feel like their grief is a burden to you, and don't want to burden you with anything else. Offering to bring a meal, clean their house, run to the grocery store... all of these things are so helpful. While saying, "Let me know if you need anything," is kind and well-intentioned, it can be too much work for the grieving parent to even know what they need. All they feel like they need is their child back. I know we greatly appreciated all of the meals we were brought through the month of October, and for our dear friend who cleaned our house on a weekly basis. These things were just set up for us, really without us even having to ask. Some dear people knew what we would need, and just did it. Having those burdens carried for us freed us up to just be... and in the wake of the child's death, that alone is a lot of work. 8. Be present. Many parents who have lost a child feel lonely and forsaken. It's really important to communicate to them that they haven't been. In addition to sharing scripture that speaks to that, being with the parents who have lost a child is important. Of course, there are times when they will likely want space and will want to be alone. Please know that if you are an expectant mother or the parent of small children, this may be especially true. It's nothing personal. But, often, parents who have lost a child will likely want company. So call, and set a specific plan. Offer to come over and bring dinner; offer to come and play a board game or watch a movie. Offer to take him or her out for lunch. Offer to go to the cemetery with them. And know, that if you make the plans, the bereaved parent may, an hour before your supposed to be there, call and say that they just can't do it today. Know that it's nothing personal, be patient, and keep offering. I appreciated so much, particularly once Spencer went back to work and I was still at home, that friends would come and take me to lunch, or my mom would come and take me to the outlets, go to the cemetery with me, play speed scrabble, or would just be here at home with me while I watched tv or took a nap. 9. Talk about and remember their child. I am not really sure what else to say about it than that. Talk about what you remember about the child. Talk about how beautiful he/she was in pictures. The Friday before my birthday, some friends spent some time talking with me about Isaac and what he meant to them... the tears just started coming and I was so grateful. On anniversaries, visit the cemetery and leave flowers. Send a card to the parents on anniversaries. Parents who children are living get to hear their children's names all the time; but for the parent whose child has died, it can be a rarity. And when you hear that child's name it is like music to your ears. It is such a gift. Don't be afraid to bring up their child who has died; more than likely that child is always on their mind anyway... at least mine is. 10. Repeat. Grief can be a long, complicated process. Those who have lost a child need to know that you still care even when the rest of the world has moved on. It's a difficult thing when you feel as though your world has stopped, and the rest of the world is racing by. Bereaved parents need to know that people remember... one of the greatest fears is that their child will be forgotten. Let them know that you haven't forgotten. I hope that the above suggestions are helpful and are able to provide some insight into the heart of a grieving parent. My intention with this post was never to be critical, but rather, to share honestly about where I am and to provide some thoughts that I hope are helpful to the friends and loved ones of parents who have lost a child. Another great place to check out for thoughts and ideas on this is Molly Piper's blog (her blog is great!). You can find a specific series of posts on helping a grieving friend here. If you are a bereaved parent and have other suggestions you have found helpful, please feel free to leave a comment. If you're the friend or loved one of a bereaved parent and you have received some positive feedback about something you have done for a bereaved parent to support them, please feel free to share that as well.

59 comments:

kace said...

Thank you for this post... sharing in sufferings is one of the hardest things for the body of christ... but it is also one of the greatest gifts to walk along side people as they are grieveing and suffering. Thanks for sharing your experience and advice of what you have learned, seen, and experienced.

the d'angelo family said...

Thank you so much for your post today. I've been a follower of your blog for a while and your words are truly inspiring. I never thought however just how they'd impact my life until this week.

My sister lost her son at 37 weeks due to placental abruption and the cord being wrapped. She delivered him on Friday. Your post today will be a huge help to my family.

Thank You.

Sonya said...

Grief is one of those things that will never completely go away. almost 6 years after my family suffered the loss of my brother I still see how my parents have good days and bad days, I do too. You are strong Stacey and I thank you so much for sharing your story on your blog and being real. Don't ever feel like you have to hide or sugar coat your grief.

Monica @ Writer Chic said...

Oh Stacy....I'm sorry you feel the pressure of oters to fit into an unrealistic timeframe of grief. It's so not the way life works. I have no new words to offer other than the steady reminder that you are loved and prayed for vigilantly.

Your half marathon coming up isn't perchance the Music City on we talked about so long ago? If you are indeed coming to TN, I'd love to be there to root you on and finally hug you for real.

Julie Simmons said...

one way that Isaac's legacy continues is by the way you are transparent in this blog and help others to find understanding and comfort when they lose a child. just this week, when i heard of a tragedy, i was able to offer your blog when i had no idea how to help. thank you. please know that Isaac's life mattered to so many, and that he continues to bring light into so many dark places of grief. i am praying for you today.

Chelsea Pang said...

Wonderful suggestions. I am reading this at 7a, after working since 730p last night (Im a critical care nurse). Transitioning to night shift has shown me that grief takes on a new flavor in transitions. There is new content to feel, think and pray about.

Marie W said...

Stacy, thank you so much for your post. It has really on a morning when I needed it. I will definitely be forwarding it to my loved ones. I agree when you say many people think I should just move on. But how can they expect that when Alyssa-Joy was a part of me? She was breathing and living through me every single day that she was alive. One thing I have always asked is that people refer to her by name. She was a person and was born. It is the same as losing a parent, you still refer to that person by name. I have asked them not to take it lightly and brush my feelings aside.
Thanks for an insightful post.

Anonymous said...

I am reading this though I do not know you. I lost my oldest son 6 years ago in a tragic accident. I am still so very sad sometimes. People say such mindless things because they think I am fine...surely after this amount of time you are okay, right? No, I am not. The picture of our families life as it was changed forever that day, and we have had to learn to live with a new and different picture. My heart does still ache and I cannot imagine that ever going away. I do want to hear his name, I do still talk about him, I do miss him everyday and long to hear his voice. Unless you have traveled this road you do not know. You will never heal. You will at some point in time accept the reality of it all, but you will never heal. God bless you in this journey.

Liz and Will Timmerman said...

As usual, you brought tears to my eyes with your beautiful words. Your list of suggestions to help grieving friends or family members really hit home for me. You summed it up better than I ever could. It has been 13 months since my son went to heaven, and every night I still cry myself to sleep missing him. We are expecting our second child within the month and although she has filled our hearts with hope again, her presence could never make up for our firstborn being gone. We miss him every day, and do feel as though the world has moved on and we are still in this holding place of grief. I remember at the 5 or 6 month mark, the shock started to wear off as well, and grief seemed to settle into every crack of my being. Take hope in the fact that as Isaac's mommy, you are honoring his life with every post you write, every day you gather the strength to get out of bed, and how you are integrating a 'new' Staci into your future. God picked you to be Isaac's mom for a reason, and I believe it is because he knew what a great mom you would be to a son as special as Isaac. You make Isaac proud everyday and I hope you realize that. You have helped me in more ways that I can relate, and because of that, I will never forget Isaac either.

Love,
Liz Timmerman

Angela said...

Wow. Thank you so much for this. I know it was most likely hard (yet therapeutic) for you to write, but I think it will help so many people. Isaac, even in his short life, has impacted many, many people's lives and brought them closer to Christ. Thank you for allowing that to happen through all of your grief.

Krista said...

You said it perfectly. I think I might share it on my blog if you don't mind. I really think this is information that people need to know about dealing with any kind of loss, especially a child. Thanks for sharing!

Jen said...

That is good advice for people to help grieving friends. And, I do believe your friend who lost the twins is right. The first six months is like a dream, then the reality hits. Hugs.

Kelli said...

Wonderful, practical advice for all of us.I appreciated your willingness to share from your heart.

Devon said...

that was so beautifully written...i honestly couldnt have expressed the most important things to me any better.

i've learned that the loss of a child is so "not normal" and people dont even know how to act...i think this will help a lot of people know how to be there for a loved one.

you are walking this road with so much grace and dignity. i am honored to know you, to be your friend, to share our grief together...

love you much.

Ruth said...

This post and your whole blog is so helpful. Thank-you so much for pouring your heart out and allowing us to share in this. I made my husband read this first thing this morning as he is really struggling right now and he just wanted to forward it to everyone that we know. SO helpful!!!

Misty Rice-Baniewicz said...

You do not know me, you may have seen my profile picture from time to time leaving you comments. I hope that I have always stayed in the "respectful" circle of things when I have spoken out of my heart and love for you as a sister in Christ and my love for baby Isaac.

I really enjoyed your post today and I can't get over that its flown by to 5 1/2 months already. Thank you for this post today. I feel like I can relate as I said on a comment before either here or on another blog of a grieving family. My aunt (my entire family) lost my cousin many years ago November. She was my best cousin, my role model my friend. I have moved on with my life, but there are things and days that will just trigger my mind and she will instantly come to my mind. I start feeling sad that I am doing so good, or I feel bad for my aunt who I know after all these year still has good days and really painful days. Days where you can accept it and days where it all seems to just shock you all over again and you feel the freshness of the grieving.

I don't think there is a time table for grieving... I don't think one every stops grieving, I think one just builds up an immunity to deal with that grieving stronger on some days and weaker on the next.

Having had another child after losing one has got to be so emotionally hard for any parent. That child will never take the place of the child that is lost, nor will it take away the love and the pain of the parent that lost that child.

I honestly feel sometimes a bit overwhelmed, frustrated and angry even...that our world is such an ugly place sometimes, even admist all the beauty in it. When I see the loss of a child at any age or way it is so painful.

So Stacy, although I do not know you either..... this give you the opportunity to also get out and meet new friends. People who will get to know the Stacy you are now.

If you don't mind, Id like to be one of your new friends (even if just through blogging).... after all you are very transparent here, sharing your life with all of us, that I do feel like I am getting to better know you.

So with that being said.... friend.

I would like to share somethings about how Isaac has affected me over the last 5 months. Although I have not seen the pictures or the slide shows that you posted back in October of Isaac soon after he was born and passed, but with out looking at your blog, I still remember his face. I still remember the shape of his delicious full lips. I remember the shape of his face and head. I remember the color of his hair. I remember the picture of him with his mouth open full of color just minutes before he died and started to lose color. I remember his nails looking purple and so small and tiny. I wanted to kiss each and everyone of his little fingers.

I remember the picture where you are looking at him and kissing him. You can tell you had been crying, but something about the look in your eye or the whole picture itself, ripped my heart out of my chest as a mother to a mother. The pain I felt for YOU at that moment was very real.

I would stare at your pictures, I even mentioned Isaac, your blog and other on my own blog. I made a collage with some of your photos and posted them on my blog. I wanted to help a hurting mother out, a hurting stranger... a hurting person I had never met.

I follow your blog and I see your roller coaster you are talking about. I can see and feel by your words when you are having a good day or a better day or a bad day. I try to always comment something just so you can see that although MANY of your blog readers will in fact move on with their lives and some will even start to fade off yoru blog because they won't be able to deal with your sadness for very long. That is oaky too, because as you said people all deal with hurt and sadness and death differently.

I often try to leave comments because YOU are helping me and so is Isaac, to constantly be reminded of my blessings. To humble me. To draw me closer to God and be a better mother EVERY single day. Your post along with Audrey, Lukes and Cora's that I have grown attached to and follow.... all of these angels have helped so many, including ME to be better parents to our own children. I am constantly reminded to cherish every moment and day, because tomorrow is not guaranteed and I realize the truth meaning of what I REALLY have to lose.

Isaac, Isaac, Isaac..... a name that I think of YOUR little Isaac when I hear it. Your little boy, that little tiny person..... that little tiny baby ..... is a LEGACY.

He will not be forgotten. THAT IS WHY YOU ARE STILL HERE as his mommy and part of that NEW STACY will be to keep his LEGACY full and alive!!!

You are doing an amazing job at that. And in time you will have more good days than bad, but the very presence of that hurt and Isaac in your heart will never cease in size, that part will never change. Isaac loves to see you and his daddy smiling, you have to believe that. I DO!

Im sorry this is long, but you said to say something, to talk about your son Isaac.... so I wanted to be real and do just that here today.

Thank you for allowing me to step into this very uncertain and fragile time in your life.....

Again, thanks for your honesty, your openness, your transparency and LOVE for your little boy and our heavenly father.

I want Isaac back for you.....

Praying for you sister.

Tammy On the Go said...

stacy,
My Aunt and Uncle were married for 40 years, never spending even one night apart, and married as high school sweethearts. That's a long time to be in love.
The week before he died, he was leaving for a missions trip to Uganda. My Aunt shot up in bed, the night before the flight and begged him not to go. She said "you are not coming back to me, please don't go". Remember, never ONE night apart in 40 years. So of course, he thought it was sweet, shrugged it off and left the next day, in obedience to his calling.
A week later he died in the streets of Uganda in a terrible car accident...after seeing over 2,000 African inmates come to the Lord.
My Aunt was stoic. We were worried about her grieving. She gave away every bit of the insurance money she recieved to the needy and fellow Christians in need. And we hardly saw her cry. We waited, weeks, months passed. we figured she was okay.
But she wasn't.
A year to the day he died, she was walking into a lowes and collapsed in the doorway. she said she looked in the store adn realized that Wayne was not with her and the grief was so heavy that she passed out.
I am saying this to say to you...thank you for grieving. I am sorry you are grieving, but this is better than the "brave face" my Aunt kept up.
Thank you for teaching us how to grieve with you. Thank you for offering us the memories of Isaac. And know this..your memories, your grief will never grow old on us strangers, friends, and family members who look to hear from you.
Love,
Tammy

Rebekah said...

Thank you for writing this. It has so many important points that you don't realize unless you have walked in our shoes.
I lost my little girl at almost 21 weeks. She only lived for an hour. I struggle so often with her existence not being mentioned. I know friends/family fear bringing her up, that it will hurt me, but it hurts so much more to have her ignored.
Thank you for your honesty and how you convey it with such grace. I have admired the strength and faith you have displayed before and after losing your sweet son.

Seraphim said...

This was a truly beautiful and helpful post. Do you mind if I put a link to it from "Whispered Support."? The trouble is, so many people don't know what to say, and you have expressed it so beautifully (as always) and Stacey, I am sorry for your heavy heart. Abiding with you. xxx

Nicole said...

I am writing with tear-filled eyes...absolutely beautiful post...one of your best. Losing your child isn't LIKE losing a part of you, it literally IS losing a part of you. I concur with ALL that you have written. The grieving process is extremely lonely. Oh how much a genuine hug would do for a grieving mother sometimes, as her body is already aching for that connection. I'm only at the 3 month mark, and I honestly think it's no less hard then it was immediately following the death...maybe even worse now. If you ever need to talk, or "vent" more specifically on this subject, feel free to email me. Hope this week is better for you, and that God will grant you peace with your job, or whatever His Will would be.
Blessings,
Nicole

Crysbena said...

This is incredible... I completely understand the pressure standpoint. I couldn't figure out how to put it...but that's it...you nailed it. Thanks so much for the helpful advice. I'm actually sharing this with loved ones. It's the most caring and loving way to put it. thank you.

Ang said...

Hey Stacy,
I emailed you earlier, if you get a chance let me know what you think..thanks!! ((hugs))

Kelly @ The Beauty of Sufficient Grace said...

Wonderful wisdom Stacy...I'm so glad you shared this...and I will refer others to it. I wish I would have had the courage and strength during our time of "early grief" to let people know our needs. While there were a couple friends and family who "layed down their lives" to walk with us through our grief, many did not reach out to us...and even acted in ways that were hurtful to us. When others, who meant well, " tried to rush me through the grief", I didn't always share with them...sometimes feeling almost ashamed of my need to continue grieving. It took me awhile to have the strength to stand up for the memory of our children..."to say, it's important for us to remember them. They were and are part of our family...part of our lives." People need guidance in walking through grief with others...especially, regarding the needs of grieving parents. Even now, so many years later...it means so much to me to hear the names of my Faith, Grace, and Thomas. Everything you mentioned was so helpful. Thank you again for this wonderful post.

Rachel E. said...

Hi Stacy,
Thank you so much for sharing all of this. It is so hard to be gracious in the face of insensitivity by well-intentioned people, but you do it so well. I lost my grandfather three months ago, and I'll go days without thinking about it, and then all of a sudden grief will wash over me like a wave. Although it's not the same as losing a child, I can definitely understand what you mean about some people thinking that the more time goes by, the more one should be "over" it.

Molly said...

When you talk about Isaac on your blog, even though I am so far removed from the situation, I often think of the infant my grandmother lost in childbirth. It's not the same thing at all. But sometimes I wonder how hard that must have been for my grandmother to go through.

My grandpa passed away this summer when I was 7 months pregnant. He was buried next to my grandma. I noticed a small headstone next to my grandmother's grave. I had not been to the cemetery since I was a child so I wouldn't have noticed then. But I definitely noticed it this time. It was the headstone of what would have been my uncle. According to my mother, my grandma had left strict instructions that she wanted to be buried next to her baby boy. My grandma died when she was 62. But 62 years, it still mattered. She still wanted to be close to him.

I know this story might not help. But I just wanted to tell you this story because it lets me know that a mother's love and a mother's grief never goes away. Life might go on but a mother never forgets. That much I understand.

Laura said...

Such a great post...all so true! So proud of you for encouraging others.

Love,
Laura

Troy & Amy said...

You know, you're right - there is no timetable for grief. I lost my mother over 10-years ago and it'll still come up and make me sad that she's not here. You are doing just fine. God doesn't want you to worry about appearances. You've had a loss and there isn't anything anyone can say to take it away. This is your thing and you will come around in YOUR time. I will say that the more you talk about it - the better. Isaac may have been out of you living and breathing for only 16-minutes - but he was still a living breathing person in you for more than 16-minutes. And he is still YOUR son. Sometimes - some people just don't get it. Although - it's nice of you to want to relieve the pressure off of them - Don't put pressure on yourself. You have all the time in the world. And you do not have to deal with grief on your own. You have tons of readers and followers on your blog. We all are here to listen, learn, and give advice to each other. So - don't worry - you are doing just fine. You haven't gone off the deep end and I think you're dealing with this honestly and in a healthy way. That's great advice, by the way!

Laura Ripley said...

Stacy I read this comment on another blog. It is so well written. I wanted to post it on your blog to share:
" it is so important to think the best of people - to think that they mean good things when they say these things. If they do not, it is God's responsibility to deal with them. I sure want someone to think that way about me. Most of us just don't know what to say or how to say it - and we are pulling some crud from the back of our minds we heard once that sounded helpful and are offering it as hope. Unfortunately, it is not the hope you need or will find healing in and it pours salt in a very painful wound. What do we do when it stings, we bite back..or we shut down...or we mark that person down as insensitive and not a true friend. The enemy would like nothing more than to see brothers and sisters separated in pain. God's hope is that our pain will draw us to Him and unite us in community - seeking healing and comfort from those who know us, love us, and lift us up in prayer."

jen said...

Please know that you are so correct in saying there is no "timetable" for grief. Some people think there should be a magic number of weeks/months/years when you are okay and back to your "old self." In my experience, that is definitely not so. We are coming up on the 5 year anniversary of losing our precious Logan. Since that time, we have given birth to a healthy daughter and are anticipating the birth of another in a few short weeks. That doesn't mean that we miss our son any less...we don't think about him any less...in fact, he is on our minds more than ever, as we imagine the great big brother he would have been to these precious little girls...wondering how he would have done at his kindergarten screening...the list goes on and on. Your advice for others was great! You are a strong, faithful woman and I continue to send my prayers to you.
Jen

Julie said...

Another wonderful post to share with all of us who are grieving, at whatever stage we are in, and to help those who we love who are grieving. You have such a way with words. I was in tears reading through your suggestions...knowing the pain you are still in, and knowing how I feel today, 5 years after my loss. There are so many people in my life who just "forget" that we had 2 children before the 3 we have now and that hurts. They may not have been with us for more than moments...but they were our children and are forever our children. It means so much when people do remember...and say their names, and ask how we are doing and don't expect us to just be "all better" because we were able to have other children. Even if you don't know what to say, saying something...anything...is much better!

The "hole in my heart" analogy is so very true. I have always felt that a part of my heart (two parts) left when the twins died. They each took a piece of me with them and I will never be the same again.

Know I'm thinking of you today. I know the grief journey is so very, very hard. It's a lifetime journey after a loss like your loss of Isaac...some days will be good, better, easier, happy....and some days are just plain ugly and hard.

Praying for your heart today.

asplashofsunshine said...

I came to your blog today to check in on you, and I have found the advice that I will need in the next 5 minutes. My brother and sister-in-law are going through terrible pain after learning their baby no longer had a heartbeat at 10 weeks. Some call it a miscarriage, some do not know what to call it, but I can tell they are going through pain as if they lost their 10 year old child. I have been at a loss of words, and I get nervous each time I talk to them. I was literally going to pick up the phone to call them as soon as I read your entry. Thank goodness I did. Thank you for the words, and thank you for opening up your life to all of us.

Rainbow said...

I have not lost a child. I am not in the position yet to become a mother, but one practical thing that I have done for a friend that lost a child was bring over a lot of paper goods so that they didn't have to worry about doing dishes for quite some time.

Rainbow said...

I also wanted to tell you that I recently discovered your blog through a friend that reads it. I was touched by the honesty in your story from beginning to current (a lot of reading in one evening!). You sound like a woman of God that I would connect with by the way you speak through your writing.

I am so very sorry for you & your husband in the loss of your beautiful little Isaac. What a beautiful blessing he was to you & your husband. He looked very content in your arms.

I would like to share a scripture that I'm sure you've been given before:
II Corinthians 1:3-5
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 5 For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.

I hope that does not feel like a "cliche" type of scripture. I thought of it because I pray that you are being loved & comforted well by the LORD through those that have experienced similar losses. I also thought of it because I believe that in writing honestly about your grief, good days, and bad days; you are comforting others who are suffering as well.

Lastly, I pose this question to you (in truth & love): Are others telling you that you should be moving on in the process, or are you perceiving that? If others are telling you that, they may not be the best people for you & your husband to spend time with right now (I know, easier said than done sometimes). Regardless of how you answered; a wise woman of God once told me that no one person can "make" you feel anything - your feelings and emotions are your own & God-given. Embrace them, Stacy - grieve when you feel like it - smile when you feel like it in moments when grief is not your primary emotion - either way, do not feel guilty. I believe from what I've read of you, that you are not a woman without the Hope of the LORD, so your grief is not in vain, nor in sin.

With sympathies & prayers.

Trish said...

Stacy, that was so helpful. I am going to link the post to my blog so friends and family will understand better how to be there. I really do think it's just hard to know how to be there.

Thank you,
Trish

sarah louise said...

I just had my second miscarriage in 4 months and am grieving over the loss of my babies. My babies who will never have names and identities in this life. People move on so much faster with miscarriages because no one has bonded with this baby besides the parents.
I just want to thank you for this post. I am dealing with each of your points and it helps to know that what I am feeling is normal.

I am sorry for you loss! Please know that your story has really helped me through this difficult part of my life. (Though I wish I didn't have to thank you, I wish your story was different and your son was with you).

Ashly said...

Great post!

Anonymous said...

I almost wish I could print it out and give it to some of the people that I know. It is very good advice and I could not agree with it more. I know with myslef I wished someone would have just knocked on my door and brought me lunch or showed up and said what help do you need. Because you are right... when someone tells a greiving person to "call if you need something" nine times out of ten, the one who is grieving will not call. I am keeping you in my prayers. Darla

American Mum said...

Stacy, thank you for sharing this. My heart breaks for those who are grieving, but I never know what to say or do to show sincere love and caring.

I'm so sorry for all you've experienced. You have a beautiful site.

Erin said...

I have been reading your blog for a while and I have left you a few comments in the past. I am praying for you and Spencer during this time. Your post really helped me.. My best friend just lost her husband in a terrible car accident on New Year's night. She has 2 children and is struggling pretty bad right now. I know it is not the same as losing a child but still a great loss. May God continue to wrap His hands around you.
love and blessings from ga~erin

Stephanie said...

I am sorry. I cannot imagine. I am not sure the grief will ever end until Christ comes for us.
Isaac changed so many lives and continues to do so.
I have no words. I am just so sorry and pray that God will give you treasures in this darkness and riches stored in secret places so that you will know that He is your God Who calls you by name. Isaiah 45:3
I will never forget Isaac.

The Morris Family said...

There is no time table, it has been two years for our 3 yr. Joel, a twin. Mommy's will never "get over it," I have really good days and I have really hard days still. My only source of hope has been the scriptures and Words of "life." Thank you for writing it out, may others receive encouragement of how they can help and encourage families that are grieving.
Cindy

Shannon said...

Thank you for this post. It's been over 2 years since my Hayden Grace passed away and it's been a rough few weeks. I've felt very alone which I've never felt before. I think this post is spot on and sums up my thoughts perfectly. Thank you.
Shannon

Rebecca Louise. said...

Wow! Stacy this is so insightful and I feel like I understand what you are going through with your grief.

I encourage you to share this with so many people. I have worked on many childrens wards, NICU and PICU. Many of them have asked fro leaflets on how to cope with loss or their diffcult experiences.

This would be like scripture to them. I know that - this would make agreat leaflet, brochure or book etc. I am not saying to do this but I know many people I have worked with would love to know this.

Anonymous said...

You dont know me and we may never meet but I do pray for you and your family as I follow your blog and all that you are going through!! I was listening to the radio at work and Mandisa was on and played a song off her new cd. It is a song that made me think of you...it is from the perspective of a baby that has gone on to heaven. It was a great song and I had to pass it along I am praying that it blesses you and gives you a picture in your mind of your sweet baby hanging out with Jesus!

The song is called...You Wouldn't Cry (Andrew's Song) by Mandisa

God Bless
Nicole

Christine:) said...

This is a wonderful post. Your words are so thoughtful and will most definitely open eyes on how to help someone's loved one. I continue to pray for you and your husband.
Christine

Shelley said...

amazing post. simply amazing.

Tim said...

No one but you can understand how you feel, which for sure gives them no reason to expect you to be over it or "moving on".

I do hope that you will find peace and understanding. However, I am also aware enough to know that this is something that will never leave you nor should anyone expect it to. It is a part of your life now and always will be. God put Isaac here for a reason. I believe it was a very BIG reason. Isaac witnessed to so many in such a short period of time how couldt anyone have lived more fully than him?

We will always be here for you as we support you in prayer. We love you guys so much, and appreciate you sharing your story in such a public way. It means more than you will ever know.

Love and Prayers,

Tim

Heather said...

Thank you for sharing this post. So many of us want to help someone, but are just unsure of the "right" thing to do. I appreciate your honesty and willingness to be open about your grieving. My prayers are with you.

Anonymous said...

Stacy, I don't know you but I have been following your blow every now and then.

I have a miscarrige one of my twins almost 2 years ago and still grieving. I did not get a chance to know my baby since I was only 6 weeks pregnant, but seeing her/his twin sister running around the house made me thinking of the baby that I lost.

I will pray for you, your son and your family.

Take Care.

Misty Rice-Baniewicz said...

Hey girlfriend.... just stopping in to say good morning and to start your day off with a smile and some love. I hope today is a good day for you.

Big cyber ((((hugs))))

libby @ ninesandquines said...

stacy, thank you for this post. and i think your advice can be applied to not only those that have lost a child, but who have lost anyone close to them. we lost my father over a year ago, the day before his 80th birthday. yes, he had a long, happy life, but it still hurt soooo bad (and it still does).

i know i will never be the same as i was before he passed away because there is something missing now. no, i didn't lose a child and could not imagine that pain, but i did lose my mentor, my hero, my daddy...and i still, 14 months later, have my "moments" of intense grief and sadness...and there are people around me that have said "it's been 'x' months - you should be past the grief by now" (i should say there "WERE" people around me because i do not interact with these people anymore due to their insensitivity). my point is that NOBODY should "expect" anything from you because, as you said, you will never be the same....thinking of you often, even though it's been awhile....

Sara said...

Stacy I had found your blog last fall, I can't even remember how, but I think it was requesting prayers for you, your husband and sweet Isaac before he was born. I too was pregnant. We lost our son Samuel shortly after you at the end of October. He was stillborn, due to a cord accident, just one day after his due date. He is our 5th child. We were all shocked. We had just moved to a city with no family or friends to support us. I linked to this post on my blog... because the whole time I was reading it I was just saying Yes, Yes, Yes, that is exactly what I feel. You said it all so well. Sweet Isaac has touched my heart and your posts encourage me as I walk this road of grief with you. So thank you for sharing honestly and so eloquently. You are a strong woman and the Lord is using you and Isaac's story for His glory. I will continue to be praying for you Stacy.

With love in Jesus from one grieving mama's heart to another! He will sustain us:)

Sara
www.hintzshappenings.blogspot.com

attorneymama said...

Stacey, I don't know you but I still check on you once a week or so. I honestly would be shocked if you were suddenly "better" because the reality is, I don't know how you can ever be "better." I imagine that you will learn to live with your grief, pain and anger. But, I don't imagine that it will ever go away.

Man, this comment probably isn't helpful. I meant it to be helpful. I wanted to reach out and let you know that I (a complete stranger) have not forgotten Issac or you or Spencer. I think about you and I check in on you.

The Durham Family said...

This post helped me so much, but probably in a different way than you intended. My best friend just lost her husband to cancer and I've been beside myself trying to figure out what I can do to help her. Thank you!

threekidchaos said...

Thanks for this post. On Friday, my dear cousin, for the second time, gave birth to a stillborn son. I am heartbroken & just don't know what to say but I will say/do something & you have given me a good place to start.

Kristen

Michelle Eddy said...

Stacy,

I have never before posted, but feel compelled to do so now. I have been following your family's story for some time (can't quite remember how I found your blog) and really found this post to be so powerful. As a future medical professional (studying to become a Physician Assistant) I know this is a an experience I will have and be charged with helping parents through more often than I would like. More immediately, a classmate just lost his 3 month old son this afternoon and I have been able to share some of your suggestions with my classmates who have expressed "not knowing what to say". Thank you for being so open and willing to share your perspective. Know that through your experience you (& Isaac) are helping others on many levels.

Sincerely,
Michelle (Denver, CO)

Anonymous said...

Oh dear girl... My heart aches for you.

Something to consider when you get frustrated when people want you to "be over it".... and please take this in the spirit in which it is offered. There is a fine line between grieving appropriately, and hanging onto grief because it's all that is left. When that's gone, what else is there, you know? So when people may want you to be on their timetable (and no one but you will know when that is) it may just be they are concerned for you, not impatient with you. I myself have been guilty of letting myself grieve too long (over relationships, over the death of grandparents, many different losses) because I was afraid to let myself move on. Grief (as painful as it is) becomes comfortable. It is scary to let that go. Just some thoughts for you to think about. You know what is best for you.

Praying for you.

Terri said...

thank you for this timely post. I am about to fly to see my sister who had to deliver at 30 weeks because she lost the baby (blood clot in the cord causing placenta to separate - they didn't know this until she delivered early today). So helpful to hear from you what family members can do. I feel so heart broken and can't even fathom how much it is magnified for my sister. praying for you also and am so thankful you share your story for others going through this same tragedy. May God bless you beyond measure.

Brenden said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to write this. I have a dear friend that is delivering right now at 9 months. She went in for a routine checkup and they could find no heartbeat.
I will use your advice as a map to hold them up. I feel so entirely useless and inadequate - but your advice gives me something to hold on to.
Rick Warren said something in the Purpose-Driven video series that terrified me. He said that out of your deepest pain comes your greatest opportunity to minister. That is of no comfort for anyone who has struggled mightily with anything, however I believe it to be true.
Thank you for taking the time to invest in others through pouring out your experience. May God richly bless you... and I'm not just saying that.