It’s been five years since I held my son’s tiny body in my hands. At just shy of halfway through my pregnancy, he was small enough to fit in my hand, and just as beautiful as my three living sons waiting for their mama at home. Lucas Ryan. Oh how I love to hear the sound of his name on my lips as he is forever etched in my mama’s heart.
In reflecting on that experience five years later, I’m here to tell you that the pain does lessen when you lose a child, or three in my case. It certainly doesn’t go away, or at least it hasn’t for me, but the pain of those losses doesn’t cut so deeply as they once did in their rawness. For me, resting in the promises of where my baby boys are, and that I’ll be with them again someday, provides my heart with the peace I need.
William, Jack and Lucas.
I am 1 in 4, three times over.
I remember my OB telling me I was in the 2% and it wouldn’t happen again. And yet it did. Two losses in the second trimester, one super early on, and my heart was forever changed. I wrote an article last year on what helped us get through those times, and continues to as the years go on. In sharing them, my hope is that one might ring true for yourself, or the friend you are walking alongside who is on her own journey:
- Acknowledge the baby – especially if your friend/family member does. Everyone processes differently so read her cues. Check in, ask her every once in a while. Don’t pretend it didn’t happen or feel uncomfortable asking. That mama’s heart grew ten-fold the second she saw those two pink lines. Even 5 years later, when a loved on remembers my babies, my eyes could well up with tears. They are remembered for the mark they left on this world, however brief.
- Time can be a tricky thing – while it does seem to help heal wounds, they never fully go away. The more time that passes, sometimes the deeper the grief for some. If you think of it, send mama a note every six months, on the date she lost the baby, or pop her a text on baby’s due date to remind her someone else is thinking about her baby, too.
- Bodies all respond differently to loss but there’s always a physical healing that needs to take place. Offer to make a meal, or send a gift card for the couple or family, to take some of the weight off.
- Dads. I get choked up thinking about the dads who are often forgotten about. They need support and healing as well. Women and men process so differently and those can be difficult days of strong emotions. Make sure someone’s checking in on dad, too, and giving him a listening ear or a guy to grab a beer with.
- If your friend has named their baby, say the name out loud! All she may want is for someone to acknowledge baby’s existence and that they had started to have hopes and dreams for their child. Buying a personalized Christmas ornament, necklace, or a garden stone, might be a beautiful remembrance.
- Whether 24 weeks or 6 weeks, a loss is a loss. Please don’t minimize someone’s pain because it “isn’t as bad” as someone else you know. A mother’s heart is a mother’s heart and this is a personal journey that everyone will process differently.
- When we lost our first son, Will, we had two sons at home who were just as excited as we were that baby brother was going to be joining our family. I had a friend send them a package of fun little activities and a sister that took them out to lunch. That kind act made a huge impact on them in their little grieving hearts.
- Finally, lighting a candle in honor of your mama friend or family member’s loss during the Lights of Love International Wave of Light* on Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day (October 15th) is a great display of support and love to remind them they are not alone in their pain. I do this every year for each of my babies’ and that flicker of light reminds me all day that I’m not alone, and that my babies’ aren’t either. Rest in peace, sweet boys. I’ll love you forever.
*Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day is a day of remembrance for pregnancy loss and infant death, which includes, however is not limited to, miscarriage, stillbirth, SIDS, and the death of a newborn. Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day is observed on October 15 of each year, The day is observed with remembrance ceremonies and candle-lighting vigils, concluding with the Lights of Love International Wave of Light, a worldwide lighting of candles and campaign illuminations, that circumnavigate the globe beginning at 7:00 p.m., in each respective timezone.