As a Colorado bereavement doula, serving all of Northern Colorado, it’s been my greatest honor and some of my most important work to serve families going through the worst thing imaginable – losing their baby.
I won’t sugarcoat it, there are no silver linings or platitudes that could say that would make this kind of loss any less heartbreaking. Losing a baby is single-handedly one of the hardest things someone could ever go through and only those who have experienced it can even begin to understand what I’m saying.
This type of unimaginable loss can feel even more raw as the holidays come around each year. What is meant to be a time of life-giving celebration with friends and family can feel almost unbearable while mourning such a loss.
This is the reason why I write these kinds of blogs: Pregnancy and Infant Loss, What NOT to Say to Someone Grieving, and this one – because this is an important topic to talk about. Our culture has a habit of shying away from the things that aren’t easy to discuss. We have a habit of brushing it under the rug or downplaying the pain because that’s easier than facing the reality of it.
All this does is make the families feel alone. It makes it harder for the next family to speak up. It makes the injustice of it all so much worse.
I never want anyone I work with to feel this way. I can’t take away their pain, but I can do my best to help change our culture so that when someone loses a baby, they aren’t alone. So that when someone loses a baby, people remember and honor that baby.
As a Colorado bereavement doula, I beg you to join me. Please do not let your loved ones suffer alone, especially this time of year. Please step outside of your comfort zone to help comfort them. Please help me normalize supporting people through their grief journey. Please help me normalize talking about pregnancy and infant loss.
If you know someone who has lost a baby, this list is for you. And even if you don’t, this list is still for you – you will probably come to know someone in your life who experiences a great loss. Be prepared.
As your Colorado bereavement doula, here are the things you can do to help honor those who were lost too soon:
- Say Their Name – This is the most important thing I can encourage you to do for a friend who has lost a baby or loved one. Don’t shy away from talking about the baby. Say their name, remember all the little details, share stories, reminisce, laugh. Sometimes we don’t say their name because we don’t want to bring up the pain of the subject, but it’s worse if you don’t. Way worse. Acknowledge them, remember them.
- Donate in their Memory – If you’re able, a donation to a charity or the family is one of the best ways you can practically help during this time. Money doesn’t solve everything, but it can help. It’s a nice way to remember them and to help build a legacy for those we’ve lost.
- Bring a Meal – When someone is grieving, preparing food can feel like a monumental task. Covering meals for them is a simple, but helpful way to show you care. Make sure you know their dietary restrictions and better yet, find out what their preferred comfort food is to bring. And if you don’t live close by, send them a meal or food delivery gift card.
- Do Acts of Kindness – In memory of those that we’ve lost too soon, consider doing a simple act of kindness for a total stranger – buying the coffee of the person behind you, leaving a treat on someone’s doorstep, shoveling someone else’s walkway, writing a note to someone who could use some encouragement – whatever you can think of to honor their memory.
- Visit Their Resting Place – If possible, visit their final resting place. Bring little trinkets, flowers, or notes to honor their memory. Spend time with them – talk to them, have a picnic, sing a song.
- Send Photos – If you have them, send whatever photos you have of their lost loved one. Photos and videos are among the most precious possessions someone has after their loved one is gone – especially photos they may not have seen yet.
- Continue To Be There – Often after someone loses a baby or pregnancy, there is usually a period where everyone is nearby but then life goes back to normal for most. The visits get less frequent; the cards and meals slow. Be sure to check in with your friend as time goes on. Don’t forget about their loss – keep checking in. Help keep their memory alive and be there for your friend as their grief changes and life moves on.
- Don’t Put a Time Limit On It – We never just *get over* loss. It never goes away, we just learn to live with it. We learn to grow around it. Don’t assume your friend will ever go back to normal. Instead, connect with their new self. Support their journey and appreciate what they’ve been through. Don’t say things like… “In time…” or “Just get over it…” This is their new normal and as their friend, it’s your job to understand that.
- Remember Anniversaries – remember birth, death dates and other important milestones like a due date. Check in on your loved ones on or near the anniversaries of these dates to let them know you haven’t forgotten about their baby or their loss of hopes and dreams.
There are a number of personal rituals or ceremonies you can perform during the holidays that may provide peace and comfort. Here are a few suggestions:
- Light candles, set a place at the table for the deceased, or include them in a toast at the dinner table.
- Decorate an ornament in memory of your lost loved one.
- Prepare a favorite meal or recipe in memory of your important person.
- Make or buy a gift in memory of your loved one to donate to a charity that is important to your family.
- Hang a stocking for your loved one and ask each family member to share a thought or memory about them.
- Include your loved one in some way in family photos.
Do you have any holiday rituals for your lost loved ones you’d like to share with me? If you or someone you know has suffered a loss of this kind, please know that I am here for you and them. I’m a Colorado bereavement doula, serving all of Northern Colorado. I am here to help get you the resources and support you or they may need.
Please click here to learn more about my work as a Colorado bereavement doula and don’t hesitate to reach out if I can be of service somehow.
All my love,