Monday, May 23, 2011

Ways to help a grieving friend...with time

We're coming up on the one year mark since Miles died. June 16. I am dreading it. When I think of Miles, most of my focus is on the joy of the days we had him.  Not the emptiness of the day we lost him. Of course the sadness is always there; but so is the happiness at the memory of his little face, his weight on my arm, his charming and fighting spirit.  I close my eyes and there he is.  But how can June 16 be anything but painful?

As we approach, I'm thinking of many things. One is how I'll hide out on June 16, not answering my phone, just wanting to be alone with Mitch. I know that family and friends will be thinking of Miles, Mitch, and me. And I'll appreciate their messages. I'll be glad that they'll call or write because that's the main way to support us now--those notes mean more than I could have ever imagined. Right after Miles died, there were the meals, the condolence letters, the donations to the hospital or the Ronald McDonald House. Now, though, the absolute best thing that others do is to show that they are still loving and thinking of Miles, too. And so I've been thinking of the meaningful ways that our family and friends have been helping us--their still grieving friends--and how there are important ways to help even as time goes by...these are my favorites that I've molded into "tips" of some sort...
  • Keep communicating. I have an aunt who has sent cards for no reason at all over the past year.  And she includes stories of what she's up to, how she's been thinking of Mitch and me, how Miles has impacted her life. It's incredible. She'll sign her cards with "so thankful for you, Mitch, Miles, and 'baby girl'!"
  • Say the baby's name; acknowledge his/her importance. Almost 11 months after Miles died, we had a small cookout with friends. After a while, another bottle of wine was opened and a friend said, "I want to make a toast. To Miles and his wonderful parents." It was completely out of the blue and touched us in such a special way.
  • Remember the important days but remember the other days even more. I didn't answer my phone on Mother's Day. I appreciated the people who called and who wrote messages. But I wasn't willing to communicate on that day. Reaching out on the other days is just as meaningful to me.
  • Ask about how we're doing. And I'm not talking about the fake greeting at the beginning of the conversation!  I'm talking about in the middle of a conversation.  I love, love, love my family and friends who say, "I've been thinking about Miles.  How have you been doing?" And then they just listen. It totally opens up the door for me.
  • Do something good in the world in memory of the baby. Family and friends have done many special things in memory of Miles: donating books to children, giving blood, making a meal for the Ronald McDonald House, even read a book about gratitude and led a book club about it. All of it makes me smile.
What else, I wonder?

5 comments:

  1. Thank you for this list. I think it's important for others to know how to best support those we love. Here from ICLW.

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  2. Here from ICLW -

    You are definitely in my thoughts and prayers as that anniversary approaches. I can't imagine what it would be like to lose my precious child, and Miles appears to be such a joy in his pictures. I will be thinking about you often and I hope you can find ways to manage.

    Big hugs!
    Nikki

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  3. I wanted to give you a big hug and let you know that you are in my thoughts. I can't begin to image what it would be like to lose a child. Stay strong and I will be following you and hope that my little bit of support helps! :) xx

    ICLW #23

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  4. Hi from ICLW. My cousin lost her son as well, and has a blog and started a foundation in his name. One of the things she mentioned on her blog was to mention Isaac by name, ask how they're doing, some of the same things you've mentioned. It really does seem to help them. I just want to tell you that Miles is absolutely gorgeous in his pictures. I'm so sorry for your loss.

    ICLW #121

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  5. Excellent advice, I couldn't agree more. Will be thinking of you and wishing you strength as the 16th approaches. My daughters birthday/death day is also coming up in June and it is a date that weighs heavily. We'll be here to walk beside you in the days ahead and following ((hugs))

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