Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I need help regarding stillbirth.

I have an acquaintance (one of the girls' past daycare teachers) who had a stillbirth two days ago.

Four days ago, she stopped off at my house when she saw me and the kids sitting outside in the warm Colorado sun and we talked about her impending birth. I touched her growing belly and we discussed how she was "done" having babies because this was her second child, a boy, and her first was a girl. The very next day she went to her OB appointment (36-38 weeks) and the baby no longer had a heartbeat. She gave birth the next day and was told it would take up to a month to figure out what happened.

I am at a loss of what to say or do. One thing I'm not doing is ignoring it. I wrote her a letter conveying my support. But that's all I know what to do. She lives very close. Should I see if I could take her daughter for an afternoon so she could sleep or cry or do whatever? Or does she need to be with her daughter right now? Should I bring food? Should I just stop by for a quick hug?

What do I do?

36 comments:

Sugar and Ice said...

I think you should do all of the above. Give her your letter showing your support. Offer to help in any way she needs...she doesn't have to take you up on it if it's not what she needs right now. I personally wouldn't stop by without notice, but you certainly could call her and offer to bring dinner. Just let her know you're there and you care.

Sarah R said...

Oh my God, that is horrible. I am so sorry to hear about her loss.

This happened to a classmate of mine--she was 37 weeks pregnant when they lost their little girl.

I think letting her know that you are there for her if she needed anything, keeping it open, would be the best thing to do. Give her a couple days to grieve before talking to her. She may just need some hugs. Maybe send her some flowers or something.

Man, that is tough. My heart just breaks for her...

Elana Kahn said...

That is just so sad. I think the letter is a great idea, but if you feel comfortable you can always try to give her a call as well to see if you can stop by to support her. *sigh*

Jenera said...

One of my blogger friends was pregnant with triplets and one was stillborn while the other two were born albeit a bit early. She has said that as long as it is acknowledged, that is most important. While we can't really understand what she is going through, for you to acknowledge her loss is key.

I will definitely keep her in my thoughts.

::hugs:: to you as well and I hope you'll find the right way to support her right now.

Seraphim said...

Nancy, I think you know I run "Whispered Support" with Carly. I hope some links and advice on there might be helpful. xxx

jenn said...

How horrible- my heart goes out to her!

Everything you mentioned sounds good- I have no experience, but would think that like any loss or moment in need of support- the offer is what is important as everyone probably needs something a little different. Just putting yourself out there & being willing to do whatever she needs from you in this terrible time.

Larissa said...

Oh my gosh, how horrible. Like everyone else said, all of your suggestions sound like a good idea. I think just letting the lady know you are there for whatever she may need is best. I heart goes out to her, poor family.

Lisa said...

I have no idea but just being there and not ignoring it will probably help. Maybe you should ask her what she needs...

areyoukiddingme said...

My sympathies to your friend.

From all I've read, I think that acknowledging the baby and his death in any way will be a help. Anything you would do for someone else who is grieving is appropriate.

MommyP said...

I agree that you should do all of that. And you are right that you just can't ignore it. My BFF had a stillborn last year - she went in for her gender u/s, and the baby had passed. I think the support you want to give her is wonderful. So many people are too uncomfortable with this situation to do anything other than ignore it.

charmedgirl said...

ask her the baby's name, and ask her about the birth.
bring food.
take her daughter.

if you ask what you can do, she'll say nothing...if you say, "here's food" or "i want to take [the daughter] tomorrow at 11am," she will probably accept.

keep saying his name. not every day, but in the coming years, when appropriate. if/when she becomes pregnant again, realize she's really fucked up about it.

THANKS FOR ASKING, nancy.

Kelly said...

When we lost Lily, we had tons of people wanting to stop by but we did not want any company. We wanted to grieve together as a couple and alone. My BFF stopped by one afternoon with food and a quick hug and left. It was perfect. That is exactly what we needed. Some people like the mooshy drama-crying/sobbing thing but that is just not me or Lance. That's not how we deal.
So definitely don't ignore it (& you didn't) but I bet she needs her daughter right now to hug and kiss so some food would be nice.
HTH!


I just don't know why these things happen....

Anonymous said...

In my experience, people acknowledging my loss was what I needed most. The best thing anyone said to me came from my sister. When I told her we lost the baby, she cried and said, "Well that sucks (this wasn't rude - she was just stating how unhappy she was). I'm so sorry. Do you need me to do anything? I'm here whenever you need me." It helped me so much that she acknowledged my loss (people often try to pretend like it didn't happen thinking that they are helping the grieving person out which usually just makes them feel sadder).

The hardest things for me were when people would try to "solve" it or explain medical or spiritual reasons why it happened. Just keep it simple. Tell her how sorry you are and that you are available and let her lead the way. She may take a few days or weeks, but she'll let you know when she needs you.

Oh and food is nice if you know her tastes. It’s easy to not really eat when you're feeling so down, so it’s nice to have things ready to make eating easier.

Mel said...

That is the hardest thing ever. My cousin had a stillborn at 39 weeks and the autopsy never revealed a reason why....

What I did for her was I bought her a memorial necklace from this website: http://www.labelledame.com/ It is just a small gesture but one she deeply appreciated. She wears the necklace everyday, even now that she has gone on to have another healthy baby....I wear my necklace for my losses often too....

I am so sorry for your friend..

CanadianMama said...

Any of those things would be great I'm sure. You are very thoughtful!

mommybird said...

Food is always good because nobody feels like cooking after such a terrible experience. The offer to take her daughter for a little while is probably a good one too. She may say that she wants to be close to her right now, but then she might be grateful for the chance to be alone for a while too. I'd leave it up to her, but definitely offer.

jill said...

Oh my gosh that is just horrible :(

You are awesome, Nancy, to ask here for suggestions on how to help.

I am no help since I have no experience but I read the comments and agree with (and learned from) all of them. What I've learned from reading blogs of women who've lost children is that they want to talk about them and not have people ignore that it happened or try to explain it away. Especially after the time when society feels they should have "gotten over it".

Heather said...

Don't ask what you can do...she doesn't know right now. Just do it. Bring her food, ask if you can take her daughter, write a letter to her expressing your sympathy. My good friend just lost her two year old daughter and instead of flowers I bought her one of those gaurdian angel pins in her daughters birth stone. Just some ideas, so hard to know what to say...

Beautiful Mess said...

If it were me, I would do my best to make sure she knows that I'm there for her. Give her a few days, maybe, then go over there. She might not want to impose upon anyone, so she might not open up to your invitation of being there for her.

Sending her many thoughts and love.
*HUGS*

Kate said...

i think all of those things are good ideas. recognizing her loss is foremost, but other than that my best advice woyuld be to make specifgic offers of help. when we lost our son, i was too overwhelmed with grief to know what i needed, so general "anything you need offers" while nice, went unused. "let me stop by with a dinner" or other specific offers were easier to deal with & make use of. just a thought.
i'm so, so sorry for her loss... somwtimes life is so cruel.

Caitlin said...

Wow I am so sorry for your friend. I will reiterate what others have said and tell you hat all of those are great ideas. I'm sure she will be grateful that you even acknowledge and support her.

Gosh, I just can't imagine...

((hugs))

Kaci said...

Wow. I'm so sorry. I would tell her how sorry I am & ask if there's anything I could do. Knowing she will probably say no, I would take food and offer to take the daughter. Based on what a friend of mine who has gone through this said, I would be specific with my offers because if you leave it open for her to contact you, she won't.

karlindaadoption said...

So sorry for your friend's loss.

This post has some wonderful advice on what to say (& what not to say) in these circumstances:
http://mylifeafterloss.blogspot.com/2009/10/what-to-say.html

Jen said...

That is so horrible.

I know from going through my loss, most things said by friends and family were better than nothing being said at all. I'm sure you will be a great form of comfort to her.

I would offer to do a few of the little things for her. For example, her grocery shopping, or see if she maybe needs errands done in town.

I'm sure anything you do will be of support and comfort to her.

Kristin said...

All of those things and more. Maybe even go sit with her at her house for a while. And, above all, don't be afraid to mention her son's name. She will want to talk and she might hesitate to bring it up. And, do something to recognize his birthday next year. That will mean the world to her.

Hollie said...

That is so terrible. I think your ideas are great. And you have gotten some good advice here. It's so hard to know what to say and what not to say when something like that happens. I have a friend who went through a terrible tragedy, and a lot of her friends and co-workers pretended that nothing happened or ignored her. That was not the right thing to do and made her feel even worse. I called her, offered to get out and go to the mall and eat lunch, just get out of the house.

Io said...

I think everyone else covered the assvice.
Damn. That is heartbreaking.

Heather said...

There are great suggestions here. I have one to add. Ask to see pictures of her son. If you've never seen pictures of a dead baby before it may be awkward and tough, but it will mean the world to her. There is a special place in my heart for the women (it was only women) who asked to see pictures of my son and then really looked at him and commented on his features.

I also have a lengthy list of what and what not to do when someone's child dies. I think it was posted on a blog and I stumbled upon it a few months after our son's stillbirth. If I can find it I'll send it to you.

Hugs to your friend.

Sara said...

I do think you could offer any and all of the things you mentioned. At a time like this, she may not know what she wants or needs. And she most likely won't ask for anything. My husband and I found it comforting when people just came in and "did". Some of my girlfriends just came by with breakfast one day - didn't call. And I didn't care. We were just so thankful for the food!

I am so sorry for her loss. It is just so tragic.

Birdee said...

I would offer. My god i'm so sorry for your friend. I can't even imagine and would be just as lost in your shoes.
She is in my T&P.

m said...

Nancy, I wish anyone who experienced a loss had a friend like you. But I am so so sorry this happened to your friend now.

Really good advise up in here. I agree that acknowledging the birth and her child are the most important. I still feel a wave of gratitude when someone asks that simple question, "what were their names? Even more when it's followed by a "would you like to tell me something about them?"

Don't ask what she needs - I'm guessing rational thought is pretty hard right now. Like so many others already said, I was so, SO thankful when a good friend stopped by with food, gave a quick hug and either stayed or didn't - she can dictate that.

sara said...

I'm so sorry that this has happened to your friend. When this happened to someone I knew the thing that she said was most helpful was people not bringing it up all the time, but also not pretending that it didn't happen. I know that sounds conflicting..but hope it helps.

t said...

just wanted to add that a site that has brought a lot of comfort and support to my friend who lost her son at 36 weeks is here: http://www.glowinthewoods.com/

Artblog said...

perfectly done :) you have a haert of gold my friend, kiss, kiss

mybumpyjourney said...

Is your friend doing okay. I really don't have anything to add to all the great suggestions already here. {{HUGS}} to her and you. You are a great friend.

loribeth said...

I'm way behind in my blog reading & commenting this week. So sorry to hear that another woman has joined the club nobody wants to belong to. :( You have some great suggestions here. I would add that holidays (including upcoming Halloween, U.S. Thanksgiving & Christmas) are going to be very tough for her & she would probably appreciate it if people acknowledged that, rather than expecting her to join in the festivities. Someone will always be missing from the celebrations from now on. :(