Our Baby Died: An open letter to family & friends
Dear Friends and Family,
As you may have heard, we had to say goodbye to our precious baby. Our hearts are broken and our world is pretty dark right now. We know that you're sad, too. Our current goal is to survive... and even that is difficult. We are including some ideas on how you can best support us through this.
Thank you for walking beside us as we travel this journey.
*We love you and we need you- but we have very little to give in return at this point. Much of our energy goes into just breathing. We appreciate texts, emails, etc,. We just ask that you not be hurt if we do not respond. It's not personal in any way. We're focused on the breathing part.
*It's ok to sit quietly with us. We don't actually need you to say anything. When you sit quietly with us, we feel surrounded and supported. It gives us space to talk if we're feeling up to it without feeling the pressure to make casual conversation happen.
*Please don't tell us to let you know if we need anything. That goes along with the breathing concept. It involves more thought than we are able to give it. If you were to mow our lawn, drop brownies off on the front porch, ask to do our laundry, anything... it would be appreciated. We just don't have the mental capacity to come up with a job for you right now.
*Don't forget our child. We had a child. They may not be with us now, but they existed. You can say their name. Often. You can ask us what they looked like... or even if you can see a picture. We may never get to throw a first birthday party or post a million status updates on social media, but we still long to talk about our child. You will not hurt us by mentioning our little one.
*We did have a baby. At some point, we may want to talk about our birth story. Give us some time, but it is okay to ask about it.
*Know that we're doing this grief thing the only way we know how. We may make decisions that seem odd to you. Please respect our current version of normal. We're doing the only things that feel right to us... when in reality, nothing feels right.
*Write our child's birthday on your calendar. We will never forget the people who honor such an incredibly important day.
*Remember our family on special days like Mother's Day and Father's Day. They're going to be rough for us.
*It's ok if we cry. We'll be doing it a lot. Please don't be uncomfortable with it. We have a whole lot of love that we can't give to our baby in the normal way right now. Some of that love comes out as tears.
*Please save any statements that include the words "at least" or the phrase "it's for the best." A simple "I'm so sorry" goes much further. And again, there's nothing wrong with silence.
*Anger is a normal part of the grief process. We may scream. We may throw things. We may be angry at every pregnant belly we see. We may get pissed off when we see someone with a baby. Or a pregnant human. It's one of the emotions of grief that we need to work through. And we will work through it. Be patient with us.
*Give us time. We should have our child with us. And we will be grieving that loss for a lifetime. Thank you for not rushing us or expecting us to "move on." We don't expect to ever get over this.
Thank you for caring for us enough to read through this. We know that this is difficult on your end, as well. And we know this has changed us in many ways. We appreciate your patience and your support more than you will ever know. We may have other things to add to this as time goes by. We're thankful you're walking beside us.
Annie Willems is the co-owner of PNW Doulas and a doula who specializes in bereavement and pregnancy after loss.