Sunday, April 2, 2017

Losing a Child: Sunday Sisterhood Week 5

Of all the topics we’ve talked about, I can’t imagine anything more painful than losing a child. I honestly don’t even have words. But that’s why we have these #SundaySisterhood chats, so that we can understand each other’s pain—what to say and do and how to support each other.

Here are all the comments from our chat last week on losing a child, and as you can imagine, I was even more emotional than usual (as in, I was sobbing) as I read these women’s stories and thoughts.

Also, this week on Instagram we’re talking about cancer, so I’ll have those comments posted soon, too. Click here to read the recaps of our chats on divorce, infertility, depression, and losing a loved one.

UPDATE 4/3/17: Now that our series is complete, find the links to recaps on all 6 chats here

How is losing a child different from other kinds of losses?

(Host) peachesandpotatoes When I planned this chat series, I felt like we needed to talk separately about losing a loved one and losing a child, because they really are so different. I've never lost a child, other than my 3 miscarriages. Yes, I saw them leave my body and my heart was shattered in a way I can't describe, but it was more like losing the hope of a child. Now that I'm a mom, I can't imagine waking up one day and knowing I wouldn't hear my daughter laugh or see my son's smile again for the rest of my life. The thought alone fills me with pain. I think losing a child is different than losing someone else you love for so many reasons, but one is feeling like you've let your child down. As a mom, your job every day is to take care of and protect your family, and when you lose a child, even if it's not your fault, it must be so hard not to feel like you've failed in some way. I remember feeling that way when I miscarried--that I was supposed to protect them inside of me, and my body failed them. The truth, I see now, is that death is a part of life, and I'm not in control of that. But being a mom who's lost a child just adds a whole new layer of emotions to the grief and coping we go through after losing someone. I can't imagine anything harder or more painful.

theshaulisfamily I don't have experience but I'll be following along to learn! ❤

peachesandpotatoes@theshaulisfamily me too! That's what this series is for...not just sharing experiences but learning from each other. πŸ‘

marebearmom@peachesandpotatoes I agree. I have not lost a child outside of me, but I had a miscarriage in January. Especially after 2 healthy pregnancies and 2 (thank God) active healthy girls - it's the unknown that hurt the most. Would it have been our little boy? What would we name him or her? What would Mary and Anna act like towards the baby? For that reason I at least gave our baby a name - Etta. I needed at least that much to hold onto.

plexuschangedmylife@marebearmom we named all of our angels too

marebearmom@plexuschangedmylife it's a question I always asked my friends who suffered miscarriages - did they name the baby so I could pray for him or her by name? So I did it for myself.

ae.mindset Carrying a child in general is like no other experience in my opinion. This being is connected and knows you like no one else. I honestly feel like a part of my soul left with them. πŸ’•πŸ’”

plexuschangedmylife@marebearmom angel mamas approach me often as a help during the grieving process. I always encourage the parents to name their angels. The bible says there is power in a name. Make that angel a permanent member of your family by giving him/her a name. If you didn't know gender -pray and you will know. Or you can choose a more unisex name.

sundayswithstacieI have had two miscarriages, one 7 years ago and the other was the twin of my little Lincoln. Those were heartbreaking for me, but I can't imagine the pain of losing a child that I had hugged and kissed and loved for years. A friend of mine just had a close friend lose her 8 year old son suddenly on Thursday night from an asthma attack. We were just talking at church this morning about this very thing. What to say and how to comfort someone who is going through this unimaginable pain?

thesimplemama I think losing a child is different than other losses because it's like you've physically lost a piece of yourself. I imagine it is hard to ever feel completely whole again. I'm so thankful for the promises of the Father and that the grave is not the end. Praying for all the mamas out there who personally know this grief tonight.

theshaulisfamily@sundayswithstacie I had a friend in SC who lost their son to an asthma attack too. So hard. Something we don't expect to ever happen. πŸ˜• sorry for your losses. Miscarriages are hard too. ❤

peachesandpotatoes@marebearmom I'm so sorry for your recent loss! So recent too! πŸ’”It totally changes how you see your family, with part of you in heaven. I love the idea of naming your baby.

peachesandpotatoes@plexuschangedmylife so sorry for your losses!!

peachesandpotatoes@marebearmom that is one of the most lovely gestures I've ever heard of, to ask and pray for the children by name! πŸ‘

peachesandpotatoes@ae.mindset yes I couldn't agree more. I still feel like part of me and part of my family is missing. πŸ’”

peachesandpotatoes@plexuschangedmylife beautifully said on choosing a name for children who died before birth!! I never did because they died so early but I'm rethinking that now.

peachesandpotatoes@sundayswithstacie I'm so sorry for your 2 losses! Miscarriage is so heartbreaking, but yes I completely agree! I'm devastated for your friend. That's why we're doing this chat, so we can learn how to support and help each other. There have been so many good ideas shared in the chat loop so far! Using his name and telling her how you were reminded of him in some way, hugging her and saying you love her, praying for her and sending books, flowers or many more. I hope you find something here that helps! God bless, I'll keep your friend in my prayers.

peachesandpotatoes@thesimplemama beautifully said my friend.

klein_kmf My cousin lost her son to cancer over 10 years ago. She says that the worst thing for her was he never really got to experience the world. He died at 5 and she wonders every day what kind of man he would be.

sammleyba My father in law lost a child and I have found that when he, the child, comes up in conversation or a picture is shown of him, I ask about him and the things he liked to do and try to learn as much as I can about him. It's been years since he passed away and it's still hard for him to really talk about Ian but he always thanks me after for asking about him and giving him the opportunity to remember him and share about him. I think making sure the child isn't forgotten is a big one. Even though they're gone, they still play a role in the family.

What are some things you can say (or shouldn't say) to a mother grieving the loss of her child?

(Host) thesimplemama I've not experienced such a tragedy firsthand and can't even begin to imagine the pain. I am a "fixer" and sometimes I say too much to try and "fix" things...which never seems like the right thing for me to do. I think a simple "I'm sorry this happened" can be enough because it's not really about what we say, it's about how we love on those who are grieving. And some of the most wonderful ways to love on people isn't with words at is with actions. ❤

theshaulisfamily I don't understand but I am crying with you and praying for you. ❤

marebearmom When I had a miscarriage, one of my good friends said, I'm bringing you dinner. You can tell me what you want, or else I'll pick for you. And I can stay or just drop it off or leave. πŸ’•

ae.mindset 'Just understand this is for the better.' You already feel like it's all your fault, and for some reason these words always hit me and made me feel more failure + shame. πŸ’”

plexuschangedmylife Having walked through this experience too many times, I simply offer a hug. I ask for baby's name and remember it often. One of the worst parts of a miscarriage or other infant loss is the fear that they will be forgotten. So we remember and say their names often.

peachesandpotatoes I have a friend who lost a baby a few days after birth, and she loves when people say her baby's name. She says it hurts when people she sees often at church or in her family never mention her daughter, because it's like they've forgotten her. They're probably trying to avoid bringing up something that could be painful, but it means a lot to my friend when people say they thought of her daughter when they saw her color (purple) or a butterfly (her "symbol.") I think anything positive we can say to remember a child who's died will show our love for the mom.

peachesandpotatoes@thesimplemama I totally agree! When someone is hurting we really want to make it better, but when a mom loses her child, nothing can make it better. All we can do is love them, like you said.

aharmonmoore@peachesandpotatoes I so agree! My sister lost her daughter at 41 weeks of pregnancy. She said before people are always afraid to mention Hannah's name or being her up, like it's going to remind my sister. But the truth is, it's already on her mind all the time. Bringing Hannah up is just a nice reminder to my sister that others remember her too. She was a person and her existence had an impact πŸ’•

plexuschangedmylife@ae.mindset I started going to counseling a couple weeks ago. The counselor said I was at fault for the miscarriages by holding onto so much anxiety and fear. (I have PTSD due to childhood rape) anyways, I tried shaking that off because I knew he was so wrong but it hurts too much to try to explain why that was hurtful (talking to him). It is never a mother's fault. Worst thing possible is to blame the mother.

sundayswithstacie I've experienced the pain of losing 2 children from a miscarriage,one 7 years ago and the other my youngest ones twin. It helped when people especially family would talk about them and remember that they existed.❤

thesimplemama@plexuschangedmylife I love the idea of remembering and using the child's name. What a simple and beautiful way to honor their memory ❤ Thank you for sharing this piece of wisdom.

thesimplemama@peachesandpotatoes I love the idea of calling the child by name and talking about their favorites (color/symbol). ❤ If it were me, I think that would give me comfort. That kind of loss is felt every day and hearing/thinking/talking about the sweet memories may help the bad memories feel less overwhelming.

thesimplemama@aharmonmoore EXACTLY!! It's important to honor Hannah's memory as more than just that awful, sad moment. Hannah is such a beautiful name too ❤ So sorry for the loss of your niece.

thesimplemama@ae.mindset Oh goodness. Yes, those words are not helpful at all. That kind of loss is certainly NOT for the better. I'm so sorry that happened to you.

thesimplemama@theshaulisfamily Yes! Just crying with them shows true compassion.

thesimplemama@sundayswithstacie I'm so sorry for your losses. Thank you for sharing what we can do/say to people going through what you went through. Talking about them often is a beautiful way to honor their lives. ❤

klein_kmf When I was in NY for my grandmother's funeral, I saw my sweet cousin whose son died at age 5 from cancer over a decade ago. She loved talking about Michael and comparing him to my two boys. I was happy to talk with her and share the few memories I had of him.

thesimplemama@klein_kmf I bet you made her day talking about Michael!! ❤

How can you be there for a mom who's grieving without putting any expectations on her or her grief?

handfulsoflife By just being there and being her friend. Whether the support is bringing a freezer meal, sharing memories you have, sitting; maybe in silence, sending an encouraging card, scripture, prayer. Grief looks different for each person and by not having expectations on someone's grief you are giving them the freedom to be and not feel pressure about what may be expected of them.

marebearmom Bring dinner! This was so comforting when I had my miscarriage. Miscarriage is kind of a hidden loss, and so I technically could have cooked myself dinner - but it was a gesture that let me sit and process things. And my friend offered to deliver it and visit, or just leave it.
ae.mindset I always appreciated verses or books or photos that just let me knew I was being thought about. That the door was open if I felt strong enough to talk. The feeling of being alone is the worst in these situations. All you want to do is talk but you have no idea what to say.

plexuschangedmylife A friend offered to do my laundry for a few weeks. Can't tell you how amazing that was. I also just wanted someone to listen. Not fix. Just listen as I cried.

peachesandpotatoes@marebearmom beautiful, I love that. I'm so sorry for your loss! It truly is a hidden loss. πŸ‘

peachesandpotatoes@ae.mindset I'm so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing, this is exactly what we need to hear.

peachesandpotatoes Being there (present), talking less, listening more, sending texts to let her know you're thinking of her, hugs and saying "I love you"

notinjersey When this kind of awful loss happened to people I knew, I helped set up a money collection and sent a food platter, the rest of the money helped with the funeral.

thesimplemama This is a good one. I'm such a practical person and it is in my nature to DO something. So I think the best way to be there for a woman experiencing this grief is to not ask her what you can do...just DO it. Bring a meal over. Pick her other children up from school. Make a grocery run for her and just grab the basics. Understand when she isn't quite her old self (because she isn't....she is forever changed) and love her the same way as before.

irishtwinmom724 I think you would like this @kdunham33

klein_kmfI feel like I cannot add anything to this discussion since several of you lovely ladies said exactly what I would say!

How is your day to day life different since losing a child?

jennibeeman My daughter passed shortly after I gave birth to her 11.16.15. Every part of my life is affected by this reality. Thanks for posting.

marebearmom I'm so sorry @jennibeeman. I can't imagine what you are still feeling, especially as other people "forget" your loss as you still process it.

theshaulisfamily@jennibeeman oh my. I'm so sorry for your loss. Is there anything people did that helped you as you walked through that?

plexuschangedmylife Missing my babies (14) every day. So much love. We have 5 living children. We talk often about all the members of our family. #familiesareforever

ae.mindset I never feel alone anymore. When I'm at my weakest I know they are with me. I now understand and feel God took them to protect me. πŸ’•

theshaulisfamily@plexuschangedmylife that must be so hard! I can't imagine. Does talking about it with other people help? I often don't know if I should bring it up or leave them in peace to grieve. ❤
theshaulisfamily@ae.mindset thank you for sharing! So sorry for your loss. πŸ˜•

jennibeeman People do move on. But there's no moving on from your child. The most helpful things in the months following: getting me out of the house, allowing me to be angry or sad...or whatever, not telling me 'Things happen for a reason', talking about her and saying her name (Ava), not making me feel guilty for talking about her, bringing food, not treating me as damaged or fragile.

theshaulisfamily@jennibeeman Thanks for sharing. I will keep your advice in mind for when I reach out to hurting families. ❤ And I can totally see how clichΓ©s would be hurtful. I'll be praying for you. I'm sure no matter how long ago it was it still is unbelievable hard for you. ❤

plexuschangedmylife@theshaulisfamily sometimes. I am actually writing a book about my journey: Desire for Motherhood. It has been therapeutic. It is easy for me personally to talk about my Angels. The one I still struggle talking about without melting down is Joy-Anna Hope. We lost her at 11 weeks on Easter Sunday. We buried her in our front garden. Last summer tragedy struck and we left our home with her still in the garden. Only comfort is knowing that the garden flowers (tulips and lilacs) will bloom for her yearly. My heart is definitely there with her. #JoyAnnaHopeRemembered

plexuschangedmylife@ae.mindset every so often I feel like they are in the same room as me. And feel instant comfort.

plexuschangedmylife@jennibeeman did you say her name is #Ava ?

ae.mindset@plexuschangedmylife isn't it the best? Blessing in disguise. All in His timing.

peachesandpotatoes@plexuschangedmylife what a beautiful name. I'm so sorry you lost Joy-Anna Hope. That is heartbreaking to have to bury your child and leave her behind. I think it's amazing that you're writing about. I would love to know more about it. πŸ‘

plexuschangedmylife If you follow me on Instagram you will know when it finally gets finished and published.

peachesandpotatoes@jennibeeman I'm so so sorry that you lost sweet Ava, and I'm so grateful you shared her with us. You are one brave mama, and your insights are just what we need to hear. πŸ‘

lenae_hamman@jennibeeman so so sorry for your loss πŸ’™πŸ’™

peachesandpotatoes@ae.mindset beautifully said. I still cry and miss the little babies I miscarried, but it's amazing feeling to know I have 3 guardian angels watching over me.

theshaulisfamily@plexuschangedmylife that would be soo hard. :( I'll keep an eye on your page. I'm with you....writing helps me think through things. ❤

sundayswithstacieI have had 2 miscarriages one 7 years ago and the other my youngest ones twin. It was heartbreaking for me especially this last one because every milestone Lincoln hits I can't help but think that his sister should be here doing the same thing.

jennibeemanThank you for asking and for listening. It's my pleasure to talk about my little girl.

theshaulisfamily@sundayswithstacie that would be hard. Like you said...a constant reminder. @lenae_hamman lost one of her twins. You guys might enjoy sharing. ❤

thesimplemama@jennibeeman Thank you for giving us specific ways to love on someone who has experienced the loss of a child. It's hard to know the "right" things to do or say and I could never put myself in your shoes bc I haven't experienced that firsthand. I would imagine your day to day life is forever changed after something like that. Your Ava is being remembered through you!!❤

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