When a mom loses a baby, the pain can be overwhelming. The road to recovery isn’t an easy one, but with help and understanding, healing can begin.
The death of a baby is a unique and terrible experience for the parents and their families and friends. Finding support, and beginning to heal, is as important months in the future as it is in the early days. The road a bereaved parent travels is not a smooth one, but with a little understanding from those around you, it can be a little easier.
Finding support is essential. Let your friends and family know that they don’t have to say anything when they visit — just have them know that being there, and listening, is important for you right now. This sentiment is echoed in The Grief Recovery Handbook by John W. James and Russell Friedman. “Grieving people want and need to be heard, not fixed,” it reads. Rachael, whose baby girl passed away from SIDS when she was 5 months old, found the most comfort from folks who didn’t talk. “The people who didn’t say much, but were just there... those were the most helpful for me,” she told us.
Many communities have support groups for grief and loss, and you may find one that is specific to infant or child loss. They are often run by licensed counselors, and being around other parents or family members of children who have passed away can be comforting for you. Often, grieving moms and dads find that their friends, family and acquaintances don’t want to talk about their loss — they are either uncomfortable with the topic or want to try to make you feel better but don’t know how. Being in a group of people who have been through a similar tragedy can be exactly what you need. If in-person meetings feel like they would be too much to bear, you can find similar support groups online that can have the same beneficial effects, but in the privacy of your own home.
Even though it can seem impossible, take time to remember to take care of yourself. Eat well (and regularly), try to get in some exercise and connect with others when you’re able. Bereaved parents also often start seeing a grief counselor to help them work through this difficult time. Even if you don’t feel the need for help at one point, doesn’t mean that you won’t need help later, so keep your options open.
Don’t let others tell you how to grieve. It’s impossible to predict how one person will react to a tragic event, but there are those who will have some of the worst advice you will ever hear. Most mean well, but it can be hard to understand that — or even care — when you’re experiencing the worst pain you’ve ever felt. You are allowed to cry, to be angry, to silently reflect and to shun social engagements. There is no predetermined timeline you must adhere to for “getting over it,” because while time will ease your pain, it will probably never disappear. Create a memorial for your little one, get a tattoo in his honor, set up a website or blog, or start a private journal. This is your journey to make and your baby to remember.
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