Allow me to embarrass some of my nearest and dearest. (What’s the good of being a blogger if you can’t do that once in a while?)
Let me tell you how my best friends from college have cared for us since Maggie and Abby died.
Every single month – read that again: every. single. month. – on the girls’ birthday, they have sent our family a surprise. Food delivered from a delicious bakery. Roses for our garden. Orchids that lasted for months. Gift cards to take our kids out to dinner. Gift cards to take ourselves out to dinner (sans kids!).
The thing about such steady and faithful friends is I can already hear them rolling their eyes and telling me it was nothing; of course they wanted to do something; no big deal.
But the truth is: it was everything to us. It was a huge deal.
When people remember you, when they reach out, when they keep carrying you through the darkest moments – you never forget. These women were already carved on my soul after decades of friendship, but this was above and beyond anything I expected.
Across the country, they sent their love in beautiful, practical, helpful and hopeful ways. Their gifts and gestures will remain burned in my memory as one of the ways God continued to show up in Maggie and Abby’s story.
. . .
Gifts have never been my love language. Truth be told, I’m someone who struggles with birthdays and Christmas because I never know what to get people. It’s not the way I express affection.
But what surprised me during our months of early grief was how much the tangible gifts meant to me.
Maybe it’s because I got to hold these babies so briefly that holding onto physical presents means more than before. Maybe it’s because I need to see and feel reminders of their lives around me as I go on without them.
Either way, the impact of people’s gifts and gestures to us in memory of Abby and Maggie has been unforgettable.
So in honor of my beloved friends – and all of you who reached out in amazing ways to help our family in our grief – I’ve compiled a huge list of ways to help parents after they lose a baby.
I wanted to keep these ideas practical, pastoral, and positive. (No one needs to be shamed with what not to say! what not to do!)
Besides, all these ideas were born not of my own imagination, but of concrete ways that other people reached out to us. They taught me what ministry to the grieving means. They showed me how to help after someone loses a baby. It is an honor to share their love-in-action with you.
Many of these ideas are gifts you can give. Some are intangible (and invaluable): time, prayers, presence. Others are tangible, physical, and concrete. Whether you’re a gift giver or a gift stumbler (like me), I wanted to share a spectrum of ideas to inspire your imagination.
My hope is that these resources will help others to reach out to parents who have lost children (and children who have lost siblings), inspired by the amazing ways we have been carried through this loss.
In the coming months I hope to add more resources to this new section – After Loss – including ideas to help children who are grieving and ways for parents to care for themselves after pregnancy or infant loss.
So if you want to reach out to grieving parents or learn how to help after someone loses a baby, click here for 4 ways – and many more ideas how to help.