"My friend just lost a baby. What can I do to help?"
I love this question and I hate this question.
I love it because of the heart behind it. The willingness to help. The wanting to do and say the right thing.
I hate this question because it stems from such loss. From helplessness. But most of all, because often I don't know how to answer it.
I feel like I should know the answers. That I should have the perfect three step plan to fix everything. But even being through what I have been through, helping friends and strangers through similar situations, I often feel helpless too.
I could write a big old book about what not to say.
Because believe you me, I have heard some crazy out of the mouths of people trying to bring comfort.
The worst part about it, is that I remember the awful words often more than the truly good ones.
Want to know the one that tops them all? The one that nearly got my friend a punch in the face? The one that still haunts me?
The one that I want to make sure that nobody ever, ever, ever says to anyone? Ever?
Let me preface this by stating that I truly believe that she thought she was being comforting. That somehow her words would help me in my grief and questioning. I also don't think she thought through what she was about to say before the words came rushing out of her mouth.
She should have. But she didn't. Haven't we all done that? Said incredibly ignorant and stupid things without thinking? I know that I am guilty. Multiple times.
Here it goes. Brace yourself.
"Maybe God doesn't think you and Jason are ready to be parents yet."
Say it with me.... OH NO SHE DIDN'T!!!!!!!!!!!!!
She did. She said that. As she held her newborn. To me. In an attempt to care for my broken heart. Unless God personally calls you on the phone and commands you to tell those words to another person. YOU DON'T. Ever. Ever. Ever. Did I take those words to therapy? Heck yes. Lots of therapy. I am all for therapy. Therapy and filters.
But I remember so much good too.
The friends who didn't try to answer questions. Who didn't try to fix us. Who prayed. Who called. Who brought us meals. Cupcakes. Sent us away for the weekend. Who weren't afraid to stick around when things didn't go back to normal after a couple of weeks. Friends who still remember Joy's birthday after all of these years.
That is the kind of person that I want to be when people in my life are hurting. I want to walk into the difficult places with them and bring comfort. Not pain. Strength. Not solutions.
My friend Jeannett is hosting a beautiful series on her blog Life: Rearranged that has been quite soothing to my heart. I offered to write a post about the do's and don'ts of helping a friend dealing with pregnancy and infant loss. But I need your help. Please let me know things that you have done for friends, or that friends have done for you that helped through your dark seasons. Healing words. Helpful actions. I have just as much to learn as any of you do.
I want to be a better friend to those hurting. Share your heart, your knowledge, your experience.
I honestly believe that none of our tears are ever wasted.
Thank you friends.