Adoption Update: The baby boy’s mom is parenting him. We have peace knowing that so many prayers were offered up on behalf of this sweet boy, his mom and our family. Although there is peace, of course there is sadness and loss. I wanted to say thank you to those who have cried with us, prayed for us, sent a note or called; that means a lot.
Although we don’t always want to talk about it, it is nice when people express sympathy and allow us the opportunity to talk about this loss if we want to. We need to be able to process this and have time to grief and heal. I know that different people grieve differently. One thing I know about myself is I really appreciate people acknowledging what happened; I don’t need eloquent words, just someone to reach out and genuinely express care; validating this boy’s life and our hurt. It is hard when life seems to go on as usual for the world while your are left feeling like yours is standing still. I know the world doesn’t revolve around us, thank goodness, but it is hurtful when you feel like there is an elephant in the room and people aren’t speaking through the awkwardness.
There are many times I have not done a good job handling someone else’s loss. I know it is a tightrope of giving them space and letting them know you care and are available in whatever way they need. This post is not meant to make you feel bad, but hopefully help you think through how to help others who are grieving around you. Remember grief is not present just when someone dies, it can surface with many kind of losses, changes, or transitions.
My newer philosophy on helping others in their grief is this: (obviously pray about what to do, God will probably lead you in different ways for different situations- these are just a few ideas).
1. Pray pray pray. We could tell many were praying for us during this hard time. There is no way we could have made it through the news, the drive home, and the days that followed without the Lord and all those praying for us.
2. Don’t hesitate calling (if they don’t want to talk they won’t pick up- don’t take this personally). I so appreciated a dear friend saying, “You know I am not good with words, but I am aching with you and praying for you.” This went a long way…she acknowledged not knowing what to say… but saying anything mattered. She expressed her love in the way that she could; the important thing is that she took the risk to express it, so we could know how she felt.
3. Remember the loss now and at a later date (most people have lots of people expressing support immediately after a loss, but some people experience and process grief a long time after the event has happened, and may need the support in a few weeks or months after the incident).
4. Offer to make a meal (It was such a blessing to not have to grocery shopping or figure out meals the first few days after we got home from the hospital). Gift cards are great ideas too, because you can mail them and provide space if that is what that person needs.
5. Think of a way to honor the loss (gift, card, or donation in their honor). A dear friend sent a short heartfelt note and a magazine about Adoptive Families to us- this showed us that she had not given up hope and we shouldn’t either, while still acknowledging that hardness of what happened.
6. Offer a listening ear and allow the person to talk about their loss if they want to talk about it. I think I read this in Angie Smith’s book, I Will Carry You…she says that it meant a lot when someone came up to her and said something like this, “I would love to hear about Audrey’s life (her baby daughter that had died) and whatever you would like to tell me about her”. This validated her daughter’s life and gave her room to share if she wanted to.
7. Don’t rush their grief. We all grieve in different ways and in different capacities. Try not to get impatient that they should hurry up and move on. They will never be the same. Sure they will heal and move on, but they won’t forget and they will have a new normal. They are changed through this experience.
8. Offer. We have good friends who offered several times for us to come over. We declined, which I hope didn’t hurt their feelings; we just weren’t ready yet…but their asking meant so much, they offered opportunities for us to have fellowship and that mattered a lot. I went back and forth from just wanting to be together as a family to wanting people to come over and just be with us in our grief.
We are doing well…but that doesn’t mean we don’t need room to grieve this loss. We are looking forward in hope and trust in the Lord. We may never understand why we had to go through this, but we have seen a lot of fruit from this loss. We know God can take this and make something beautiful from it…but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt and catch up with us at unexpected times. Please continue to pray for baby and his mom and for us; we so appreciate it. We were able to send a gift via our agency to Baby. Darling Daughter wrote, “Welcome to the world. You are a gift. I love you.”
I will leave you with one of my favorite songs. May the words wash over you as you spend time in His presence. He, the greatest comforter of all. He who knew greatest pain. He able to comfort all who mourn, with genuine understanding.