Parenthood is full of many ups and down. There are plenty of positive moments, but it often seems easier to dwell on the hard times. When you have a friend going through her own grief, it can be hard to know how you can help rather than make things worse. Depending on the problem, there are different ways to aid a fellow mom when they really need you.
Tips For Helping a Fellow Grieving Mom
When They Can’t Have Children
Many couples struggle with infertility, and it is an extremely painful experience. Chances are that couples will try every avenue of treatment and testing before they open up about it to friends and family.
Don’t: Offer Suggestions. No doubt your friend has talked to doctors in detail and researched her situation before talking to you about it. The initial reaction most people have is to offer suggestions or stories they have heard about other couples, which is just frustrating. Even if it happened to your second cousin’s neighbor’s niece, it doesn’t mean you have the solution for your friend.
Do: Be Supportive. While the suggestions and questions are bubbling to the surface, the best thing to do is just listen. If invited, go ahead and ask questions, but remember to be sympathetic in your tone and actions. Your job as a friend is to lend an ear and a shoulder to cry on.
Another great way you can support your friend is to let them handle everything she feels like she can. If she agrees to come to someone else’s baby shower but doesn’t end up attending, be kind. It just might be that when it came time for the party, it was a bad day and she didn’t want to put herself through the emotional turmoil.
Be sensitive to how your friend may be feeling on holidays or when a family member or mutual friend has a baby. These can often be the hardest times because a lot of women want to be excited for the other moms, but they are also painful reminders of what they do not have.
If She Has a Miscarriage
A common problem for women once they get pregnant is losing the baby early through a miscarriage. Whether or not you have ever experienced this personally, you can still be helpful rather than hurtful.
Don’t: Say “At Least.” One of the most common things people will say to a mother who has miscarried is “at least it didn’t happen later.” There’s a good chance she has already told herself this over and over again. Suggesting it to a grieving mother is insensitive. You are not only discounting her pain, but telling her she should be glad for this experience.
Do: Offer Real Help. A miscarriage is hard on your friend both physically and emotionally. Offering to bring dinner, clean the house, or help watch older children can really help. There are so many things that a mom has to do every day and likely won’t be feeling up to doing much of it.
When the Worst Happens
No parent goes into creating a family expecting to bury their children. Even in this day and age, children may die despite the best medical care we can give. Whether it’s an accident or some other health problem, it is always hard to cope.
Don’t: Avoid Them or Smother Them. Most people cannot imagine dealing with so much pain, so they treat the parents with one of two extremes – they avoid them because they don’t know what to say or smother them trying to help too much. Avoiding them gives the impression you don’t care. Smothering them can push them away. Everyone needs to the ability to grieve in their own way.
Do: Be a Support. Each mom is going to need something different, but everyone will need a friend. Be ready and willing to talk or listen if your friend needs it. Some moms need a temporary distraction from the pain and seek it through play dates or girl’s nights out. Be aware, though, that these may be the completely wrong things to do for some women. Try your best to find out what she will respond to, and be supportive.
No matter what type of personality your friend has, you can still step in during the hardest times. Send flowers to the funeral or to her home after everything is done to say she is still in your mind. Don’t stop trying to include her, but extend your invites in such a way that you won’t smother her.
When the Adoption Fails
This is something you hear about less often, but it is still a very powerful experience. When couples have already come to terms with the idea that they may not have their own children, they seek to adopt. They may wait years for the chance to be selected as adoptive parents, but, unfortunately many things could happen at the last minute to interrupt the process.
Don’t: Disregard their Pain. For many adoptive parents, a failed adoption is comparable to the death of a child. They were ready to come home with a baby and had everything set up for the big arrival, only to come back empty-handed. Giving facts on how it is better for the child to be with its biological parents or how eventually the right baby will come along is not helping anyone.
Do: Listen. There is not a lot you can do to help alleviate this pain, but you can always be there for your friend. Help by just listening or giving a hand with packing up baby stuff if she asks you to.
Be a Good Friend
No matter what your friend is going through, you should do your best to be there for her during this difficult time. A true friend will do her best to help in any way she can. Since you are the one who knows her the best, you are going to know how to effectively help her feel loved, supported, and remembered.
About our Guest Blogger
Sara Davis, our guest blogger, works with DaFlores and is a blogger in her spare time.
Image courtesy of franky242 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net