Guest blogger: Francesca Brunsden
How to help someone who’s grieving
When you don’t ask someone about their miscarriage or child-loss, you make a decision for them. You decide it’s not the right time or the right place. You decide it’s too uncomfortable to discuss. You decide they should be grieving in private. You take away their choice to share their grief.
I lost my first child at 11 weeks. I lost my second child at 24 weeks. Not many people asked what had happened to me. Most people just avoided the topic altogether. I guess they didn’t know how to react and maybe they didn’t ask because they didn’t want to upset me, but I was upset, so their reactions felt very cold. I probably wanted too much. I wanted someone to ask me about my son. I wanted people to acknowledge that I’d had a baby.
It’s okay to feel awkward. Just know that no matter what you say, you will never make someone feel worse than they already feel.
Here are some ways to help:
- Acknowledge their grief, say: “I’m sorry for your loss.”
- If you’re at a loss for words, try: “I don’t know what to say.”
- Offer to listen or tell them you’re there if they want to talk.
- Send a kind text, a card, or a letter.
- Give a memento to remember their loss.
- Cook a special meal to share.
- Send a gift for one month later or on their one year anniversary.
- Give them a hug.
- Follow up and stay in touch.
During the difficult time that followed my loss, it was the small acts of kindness that got me through. Every day, I was excited to open my mailbox and see what people had sent. It became a ritual that got me out of bed and out of the house. It was the beginning of my healing process.
When I was grieving, I wanted to talk about my experience. Not everyone does, but I was a proud mother to a baby I loved and lost too soon. My opportunity to open up was so often taken away. If you have the chance, please don’t let that opportunity pass you by.
Francesca Brunsden is a transplanted Brit, a hairstylist-turned-entrepreneur, a queen crafter, and one brave mama. After her first miscarriage, her son Phoenix was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder at 24 weeks in utero, a condition that is often "incompatible with life." After 15 hours of labour -- and against all odds -- Phoenix was born alive. Even though his skin was paper thin and his arms and legs were broken in many places, he lived for over 5 hours cradled in his mother's loving arms. That day marked the beginning of a journey through grief that may never be over for Francesca. Phoenix's younger brother, Bodie, was born almost exactly one year after his due date. Bodie's birth was a gift that has helped Francesca find her voice and passion again. Through FRANNIE + LILO, she hopes to fight the taboo of discussing miscarriage and child loss, and raise money to support other mamas faced with this kind of tragedy. Read more about her story on her blog.
FRANNIE + LILO make eco-conscious, ethical, and empowering shirts for women, infants, and kids. Co-founders, Lysanne Louter and Francesca Brunsden, bonded over their shared struggles with postpartum anxiety, child loss, and miscarriage. They met in a prenatal class and their sons were born 10 days apart. Up to 25% of mothers experience postpartum mood disorders and 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. A portion of every shirt sold supports miscarriage, child-loss, and postpartum mental health charities.
You can follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.