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Simple Solicited Advice from the Bereaved Mother

In the years since we buried our baby girl, many people have reached out to us to ask how to love someone else well in their time of loss. While it is an unspeakable honor to be trusted to impart such sacred advice, I'm always taken aback a bit. The reality is there is no perfect answer to that question. No two losses are the same. Trying to compare two wounds will only ever lead to more agony. What worked for me may not work for your neighbor. And what worked for your cousin just might push me right over the edge.

So, it's tricky.

My safe, go-to solutions are in no particular order: prayers day and night (and oh my gosh, first thing in the morning PLEASE), wind chimes, Willow Tree figurines, Lisa Leonard jewelry with the child's name for Mama, brownies {always brownies - the hotter & more unexpected, the better} and all the comfort foods, and simply quietly following suit of however the grieving person chooses to grieve. Skip the beige sympathy cards and books on dying children, please. That time may come, but you risk getting throat punched by a sad mama if you bring one with the casserole. Let me save you that drama. Kidding. Sort of. (One of my best friends in all the world has literally compiled a beautifully perfect list of what to do when the bottom drops out and a baby dies. If you need a copy, holla.) The truth is, we complicate what is actually very simple.

Show up, people. Just show up. And keep showing up.

If they're in their bathrobe or toys are all across the room, give them a minute to get over the fact you showed up, then love them and pretend you don't see any of that. If they talk, listen. If they're quiet, sit quietly with them. If they're angry, bite your tongue and let them rage. If they cry, it's okay to shed some tears, too. If they're questioning God, know He's big enough to take it and talk to Him about it, not them. Not yet. Their filter is broken and it may stay that way for a while. Let it be. Let them breathe. Fake suffocates. Don't forget that. Pretending prevents healing - every time.

Say the child's name, even and especially if you're afraid to. In the visitation line, at the ball field, on Tuesday, and on Halloween. All the time. Say the name they won't hear anywhere else anymore. Break that deafening silence and acknowledge that life. There is no fear of making them sad or breaking their hearts further - that damage was done before you arrived on the scene, dear.

There may be no perfect solution apart from Jesus Himself, but presence is indeed mandatory. In some way, shape, or form, if you claim to love the brokenhearted, being present is required. It just is. Not knowing what to do is not an excuse. Not knowing what to say is okay. You can even say that. In fact, I beg you to say that. Nobody knows what to say and pretending you do is way worse.

Let the pretenses fall, friends.

Just love your people when they face the unspeakable like you'd love them on any other really bad day.

Just do it bigger.

And never stop.


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