When we lost our baby, I lost myself for a bit. I felt broken, half gone. But only half because I still had a daughter to care for. It was many cold, haunting nights. Lonely despair. And lots of emotions I was having trouble trudging through.
In the midst of it all, I was one of the lucky ones. I had a team of support. If you have a friend that has recently experienced this loss, I’m hoping that something here will help you let them know they are not alone. Everyone grieves differently, keep that in mind. But here are some things that have helped me tremendously.
Just Be There
I couldn’t sleep in our bed for months. Our bed was where the contractions started. Night after night, I stayed in the living room, the television drowning out the deafening silence that came with the night. Every night, my husband set up camp in the recliner. He never once complained; he never pushed me to return to our room. He sat with me in solidarity. I cannot express the gratitude of his silent affirmation that this grief, our grief, was legitimate.
Offer a Safe Space
My closest friends, I can never thank them enough. They came in the night. They sat with me. For hours, in my silent grief, they sat. They didn’t try to fill the void with words; they offered their presence. And in that moment, it was everything I needed. As the days passed and turned into weeks, they allowed me to vent via text and calls. I was hormonal, I was angry, and honestly I just needed to let it out in a judgment free zone — and they offered that in spades. They allowed my fits, my tears, my questions and in the midst of it all, they loved me.
Be A Distraction In the Darkness
Another friend, one of my long distance friends, texted me every night around 10pm. It’s as if she knew firsthand when the darkness would begin creeping in. You see, the day brings distractions. Mundane tasks, caring for our daughter, it all kept me from dwelling on the loss of our baby. But when the night came, so did the overwhelming grief. It pressed in on every side. And as I felt myself drowning in all the darkness my mind had to offer, my phone would buzz. And my friend would text late into the night. I honestly don’t know if she was intentional in her actions, but she texted me every night until I fell asleep.
Every year on the anniversary of our loss, as well as what would have been a birthday, I get a text from my friend. She reaches out in various ways to let me know that my loss is real and felt and remembered. There are no words to express how much that means. This can be tricky because you might bring up emotion, but knowing my baby made an impact makes my heart swell. To know she was and is loved and remembered by my friends helps ease the pain of her loss.
One of the most difficult things about miscarriage is all the what if’s & the lack of commemorating your child. My walls are full of photos of all my children. I often find myself looking at those walls with a twinge of guilt that one baby will never be on that wall. This year, one of ours friends gifted us with a beautiful sign she commissioned with our baby’s name. She now has a place on our wall with our other babies. Sometimes it’s hard to look at, but mostly it helps me feel loved. A gift of remembrance helps me feel a little more complete.
Find A Way To Help Heal
The year of our loss, I felt lost. My husband and friends did all they could to help, they researched commemorative ponds, bricks, and walls. At the time, I wasn’t ready. I was having trouble sorting through my grief and I wasn’t sure how to share that process. I’m thankful to have patient friends that didn’t give up. My husband found a walk Forget Me Not Walk To Remember. We invited close friends and family to walk with us; the first year was hard, I wasn’t ready — but it has become something I look forward to. This particular walk is a bit of a drive as it is in Youngsville, LA, but for us it is so worth it! It’s a free event (although you can purchase a t-shirt). We register all our walkers every year and walk in honor of RaneStorm.
Here’s how it works: every one gets a balloon in honor of their lost babies, they offer small wooden adornments to personalize your balloons, then everyone gathers at the start and the names of each and every baby are read out loud. This is such an emotional time, and it’s a time of bonding with all the other families that feel the depth of your pain. Then the walk begins, it’s a short walk around a tiny pond, but around the pond is a commemorative piece for every named baby, one year pinwheels, then stars, then wooden bears. We make two laps, on the second lap, you stop by your baby’s plaque and wait for a song and announcement when all the balloons are let go. Then there is jambalaya, cake, and even some fun activities for any children in attendance.