In honour of 'Pregnancy and Infant loss day' on October 15, we shall publish a four-part blog by Priscilla Nassuuna of the Maama Nze fame. In part four today, she shares how to help someone close to you that has miscarried or suffered infant loss.
People do not know how to deal or be around people that have suffered miscarriage or infant loss.
I have been in this position myself, and before I went through it, I had no idea how to be, what to say, even with the willingness to help, I still had no clue how to go about it.
Let me share with you briefly what I discovered through my own experience;
1. If you can afford to, call and convey your condolences, if you want to visit, ask if it would be alright to do so.
2. If you can afford to, send a care package; basket of snacks, craft kits, a journal and pens, and things to keep other kids busy, coloring books and blocks etc.
3. Check in as frequently as you can afford to, do not feel bad if you do not receive a response immediately, it will come. And keep checking in, offer to visit not to talk but express your willingness to just sit together in silence. Or offer to pick the person up to go for a drive, change of scenery.
4. Prepare a meal and just drop it off with a note.
5. Pray for the family, offer to pray with them and please do not take offence if they are not ready to pray with you.
6. My parents really helped when they offered to take the kids off my hands, if you can, pick up kids for a few hours, to give the grieving parents some time alone.
7. Acknowledge the baby by saying their name, talk about the baby, or even offer up a prayer in their honor.
8. For infant loss, if the baby was in the NICU the family might still be making payments. If not there are costs for the funeral, a little financial support goes a long way. In our culture we call it, ‘mabugo'. Finances are a very sensitive matter, some may feel awkward about giving, if this is hard for you, maybe go and do some grocery shopping for the family and deliver with a note. I know the mother who cannot imagine having to go out will really appreciate the offer.
9. If you find yourself in a situation where you just found out about a pregnancy, or have a newborn but have a close friend or relative that has just had a miscarriage or lost an infant; please be extra communicative, they will respond by letting you know what they can and cannot handle in terms of processing their grief. For example; tell them privately before you announce a new pregnancy, if they visit after you have a baby, ask first if they would like to hold the baby rather than handing the baby over. A little empathy goes a long way.
The Do nots;
1. Do not say, "Well at least now you know you can conceive."
2. Do not say, "At least you have other children."
3. Do not say," At least you didn't lose them all," if they had multiples and lost one.
4. Do not say, "You're young, you will have more."
5. Do not say, "At least you hadn't had it yet, you hadn't bonded."
6. Do not say, "At least you hadn't had the baby long, imagine if they had gotten to grow up and you had that bond from raising them."
7. Do not say, "Maybe it is for the best, maybe there was something wrong with it." Yes, the parent probably realizes this, but knowing it offers no relief, not for everyone anyway.
8. Do not ask when they will be trying again!
9. Please do not go around asking people when they will be having babies, you do not know if they have been struggling or what challenges they have faced.
Keep in mind that people grieve differently, so please do not make any judgements on the way an individual is grieving.
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