Tuesday, September 7, 2010

An online friend's loss

A person I know from a message board had a stillborn daughter over the weekend. I have no idea how to reach out to her. She was a member of the ALI community before her daughter was born. She survived several miscarriages before she had her son. Then when she became pregnant with her daughter, I was thrilled for her. It was a surprise pregnancy, but everything was going well until the beginning of August. The baby was found to have severe polycystic kidney disease and was not expected to live long if she was born alive. Sadly, a month later she was born sleeping and her parents are devastated.

I want so badly to reach out to her, to know what to say, but I'm at a loss. I can't compare losing a child at 6 weeks of pregnancy to her loss of a child she felt kicking inside of her, that she had seen living on an ultrasound. How do I, someone who has never experienced a loss like this reach out without sounding callous?

12 comments:

Connie's Confessions said...

Tell her that you heard about her precious daughter and that if she ever needs to talk, cry, vent her anger, throw stuff, etc....let her know you are always there to stand by her as she is going through and dealing with these emotions.

Browniris said...

We have a family member who gave birth to a stillborn last October. I think that it helped her to know that she had so many family members and friends around that cared so much. I also think it helped that people not only said "call me", but actually just did stuff (like bring over dinner). That might be hard for you if you don't know her IRL. It seemed like it took her a little while before she was ready to talk about it with anyone besides her immediate family, but I know she was still grateful for everyone's love and support. Another thing you could do if you know her address is send her a card and a small trinket that is in remembrance of her baby.

Sue said...

This website is has a ton of information.

http://www.glowinthewoods.com/

In the meantime, just say "I'm sorry." And offer to listen, if you can. She probably does not want to -- or cannot -- hear anything more than that.

Hanen said...

Hi - over here from LFCA and so sad to hear about your friend's daughter. I would suggest, take your cues from how you would react for anyone losing a child - tell her you are sorry. But she's also just met her daughter for the first time (albeit in the saddest circumstances) so if you feel comfortable, tell her you'd love to see a photo or to hear about the birth if she wants to talk about it. I know that for me at least, that was a huge thing, for people to look at Z's photo and say, "look at your beautiful little daughter".

Whatever you do (and I'm sure that, having experienced a miscarriage, you wouldn't do this), please don't try to find a silver lining or tell her it is "all for the best".

.Katie. said...

i'm stopping by from LFCA too. my story is similar to your friend's. my daughter was stillborn, after we received a fatal diagnosis.
tell her that her daughter will not be forgotten. tell her she is a great mom. ask about her daughter. invite her to tell the birth story, and share pictures.
it's important to not make her feel alienated. she is still a mother.

Melissa said...

I haven't been through a stillbirth, but I have been through miscarriage. The worst thing you can do is to say nothing at all. The next worst thing is to say "it's for the best" or something along those lines.

On our website, <a href="www.angelbracelets.org>angelbracelets.org</a>, we have a list of several articles to help friends and family of those who have experienced a pregnancy or infant loss. Check out our "Resources" page and scroll to the "For Friends and Family" section.

Melissa said...

Oops...repost with correct link.

I haven't been through a stillbirth, but I have been through miscarriage. The worst thing you can do is to say nothing at all. The next worst thing is to say "it's for the best" or something along those lines.

On our website, angelbracelets.org, we have a list of several articles to help friends and family of those who have experienced a pregnancy or infant loss. Check out our "Resources" page and scroll to the "For Friends and Family" section.

B said...

here from LFCA. i'm so sorry to hear of your friend's loss.

send her to glowinthewoods.com like someone suggested. and you could read this: http://www.glowinthewoods.com/how-to-help-a-friend/

i'm sure you wouldn't, but do not say 'i know how you feel'.

ask how she's doing. then ask how she's really doing.

for the future:

remember her on mother's day. on her due date. on the date her baby was born. these dates will be hard. if you can, encourage others to remember too.

the fact you're worried about this makes me sure that you'll say the right things. or at least, everyone said something that offended me, but with most people i realised that they were trying their best in a terrible situation. i'm sure she'll realise it too.

A.M.S. said...

Just speak from your heart. Avoid things like, "I know how you must be feeling." It's ok to say "I don't know what to say." Let her know that you are here for her.

One of the most touching things anyone said to me after the twins died is that they would remember them because my biggest fear is that they would fade away as people forgot about them.

Also, be there for her six months from now (if she's still online). Grieving parents continue to grieve long after friends and relatives have moved past their mourning period. She may have lots of support these early days, but down the line, when various milestone dates arrive she will feel the pain anew and need support just as much. Due dates, the anniversary of learning she was pregnant, holidays... these continue to be hard dates for a long time to come.

Eve said...

Yes, you've been given lots of good advice already. The most comforting thing I heard when I lost my son at 7 months pregnant was "I'm sorry". Avoid 'at least' completely. It never feels good, even if your baby never suffered, even if they would have been very ill, even if...you still want your baby with you.

Friends on my message board did the most wonderful thing for me after my son died. They put together a slideshow with pictures of his name made by all sorts of found objects: flowers, sticks, legos, written in the sand. They also bought a star for my son near the Gemini constellation (he was a twin). It has meant so very, very much to me.

You can see the movie they made here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1yqGr9irMoU&feature=player_embedded

What a great friend you are.

Sue said...

Commenting again to say:

Exactly what AMS said. You are a good friend for being so thoughtful and careful.

Something that was difficult for me was how isolated I felt. Knowing that there were people thinking of us helped a lot.

Virginia said...

Remember her daughter. Ask if she wants to talk about her, remember her on mother's day, the holidays, the anniversaries. Tell her you won't forget. And if you don't know what to say, tell her that. It's best to say "I'm sorry" than stumble on words and say something that will hurt.

I blog about stillbirth at www.landofbrokenhearts.blogspot.com where I have a list of resources and advice. I also have resources listed on my website, www.virginialwilliams.com/StillbirthResources.html.

I hope this helps. Tell her she's not alone.