Before Our Loss
Not Knowing What to Say
This past month has been an absolute roller coaster. Finding out we lost our third baby, having surgery two days later, recovering from the intense emotional and physical pain, starting this blog, getting possession of our first house, meeting a wonderful group of loss moms connecting in a safe place, having an intense first period post miscarriage, being asked to be part of positive change in our city for those going through loss (more on that in the upcoming weeks!) and finally, getting through another Mother’s Day with empty arms. I feel as if my mind have been on overdrive; as if I have been caught in stormy waves, tossed to and fro. It has been hard to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), as I honestly don’t even know where to start some days. What keeps sticking out above all else however, is the amazing sense of community and support we have felt this past month. It has been so positively overwhelming, I find myself tearing up reading an unexpected text of comfort, or in awe at coming home after a hard day to find a gift in my bedroom.
Before I had experienced the heartache of infertility after trying to conceive for over two years before we were pregnant with Lyric and the subsequent miscarriage, I had no idea what is was like to go through this. I had a dear friend of mine who had a miscarriage almost a year before I had, and she was the first person close to me I knew to experience one. At the time, I had NO CLUE at the magnitude of her heartache. Honestly, I don’t even remember what words I used to comfort her, or what I practically did to console her. That makes me sad, because if I can’t even remember what it was, likely it was not that stellar. I wish I knew how deep her pain was. I wish I had the right words. I wish I took time to go out of my way to let her know I saw her, I loved her, and was there to journey with her.
I cannot go back and re-write those texts, or insert a hot meal in her memory. What I can do, is share with you what I have learned now that I’ve experienced this pain. Not to make you feel bad, or make you question if you said or did the right thing. I can share with you now, so we are all more aware. I know many of us want to do the right thing and to say the right thing, but we just don’t even know where to start. So maybe we don’t say anything at all. Maybe we are so afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing, we keep at an arm’s length. These are not my ideas of what to say or do for someone experiencing loss. These are not examples I have spent time formulating. These are examples of actual words and expressions that meant the WORLD to me this past month. That made me laugh, tear up, ugly cry, and feel arms wrapped around me. That gave me hope tomorrow would be better, knowing we had people that cared and loved us no matter how bad we were hurting. That we are not alone.
Words That Helped Dull My Pain
Samples of Messages Sent My Way
“I just wanted to take a moment and acknowledge you.”
“Thinking of you and your little ones this afternoon.”
“How are you feeling emotionally today?”
“How is your pain today?”
“You don’t have to reply – just know that I am here for you and thinking of you.”
“I’ve been thinking about you often. Please know I am crying with you, that I think of Lyric, Arianna and now Lael often, and that you remain in my prayers.”
“I don’t know this type of loss and won’t pretend that I do. You are so strong. I am grieving your babies and praying for the day you hold one of your precious babies.”
“You are in the thick of it, and you are doing wonderful. Feel all the feelings, this too shall pass.”
“I am so sorry for your loss. I am here for you.”
“My heart is breaking for you. I don’t understand this, and it really sucks. I love you, and am here for you.”
“We are lifting you up in prayer tonight.”
Receiving one of these messages as I tried to put myself together for going back to work, or in the middle of the day when I felt everyone else had moved on, was like receiving a big hug. They let me know that not only were they thinking of me, praying for me, loving me, but they were also thinking of the baby I lost. Every time I saw someone remember and speak or write my babies names, it made my eyes smile with tears. To know that they too were loved by many. They too were known. They too were not alone or forgotten.
These messages all have something in common: they are words of support, offering a listening ear. They are not words of advice, or telling you what to do (i.e “just relax and it will happen”, “stop thinking about it and you will get pregnant”). They are not words trying to make your situation look better (“at least you know you can get pregnant”, “it wasn’t meant to be”). During these days of hurt when I felt as if I would never heal, or wrap my arms around our baby one day, all I wanted was for someone to be there. That’s it. Just simply be there to listen, and let me tell my story. Trust me, we know the stats on infertility (1 in 8 by the way), and the chances of miscarriage. We know our egg quality diminishes as we get older. We know we have a “biological clock”. These are things you certainly need not remind a woman going through this. What you can do, is remind her that you’re there for you, you love her, and you are thinking of her.
A Very Valuable Lesson Learned
I think one of the most common things we say to someone going through any type of loss, that really isn’t that useful is, “Let me know if you need anything.” I too have sent this message to friends and family in past, probably because I simply did not know what they needed, or what to say or do. What I have learned though, is that not only is it not that practical, it can be a very loaded question. One may think, “I need my baby back, thanks.” But that would sound pretty dark and obviously something no one can actually do for you. And how many people have ever responded saying, “Actually, I need a home cooked meal, as I’ve been living off take out and cereal for two weeks now.” You may think it, but most of us, even through our pain, don’t want to put anyone else out.
I know this was the case for me. I had many people with good intentions ask to let them know if I needed anything (remember – I too have asked this question when others have been hurting). I hate having other people go out of their way for me, or asking for something from anyone. So I would just politely reply, “Thank you.” Partially also because I knew their intentions were from the heart and for that I truly was thankful, and partially because I did not want to be an inconvenience by letting them know what I really needed.
They Say Eat, Pray, Love for a Reason
I learned a very valuable lesson when I received a message from a friend a week or so after our miscarriage. She pretty much demanded that she was going to bring a home cooked meal over to our house lol. It wasn’t even a question (as I probably would have told her not to worry, “I would be fine”). She asked for a reminder of my dietary restrictions (since our journey with infertility, I have discovered a number of foods that harm rather than heal my body), and stressed that she would leave it on the doorstep in case I wasn’t up for visitors. I started bawling because it was such a practical need that she was willing to fill, and one that I would have never asked of her to do. I remember telling her that I would suck up my pride and accept as I had not been physically able to get to the grocery store in over a week, never mind have the energy to cook. Branton had been so busy with work, especially after taking three days off to spend with me at a hotel, as well as the hospital. Both Branton and I were so grateful when that meal arrived (with a lovely handwritten card and thoughtful gift), that we started eating it before realizing it needed to be put in the oven for another 45 minutes!
I have made a promise to myself that when I see someone go through a loss, I will ensure to make a meal for them. I will just do it. Rather than saying, “Do you need a meal?” I’ll say, “I would love to bring a meal over for you. Will you be home tomorrow?” Such a simple, practical way to show someone you see them, care for them, and love them.
Trigger Dates for Loss Moms
One of the most heart-warming things I had experienced since losing our first, Lyric, was months after the initial loss. When friends remembered us and Lyric during times they knew would be emotional triggers – Mother’s Day, other friend’s pregnancy announcements, our due date, the date we lost him. Checking in every now and then to see how I as feeling, or simply to say they were thinking of us. One of the most loving things you can do for someone who has lost a baby, is remember. Remember their life, their name, and those important dates. Just as it warms one’s heart to see someone love and care for their children, the same goes with ours. Although it may be more difficult to do so, when you do, it means the world.
It’s Food for the Soul
A few friends have sent links to songs for comfort and healing. When you don’t know how to express your feelings to someone, sometimes music is the perfect way to let someone know you care when you simply can’t find the words. I have drowned myself in music more times than I can count, finding this especially healing through the fresh grief in days after each of our losses. When all I wanted to do was hide under the covers and listen to the same songs over and over. When I was too angry with God to want to call out to Him, or draw near, I would listen to worship songs that expressed my hurt for me, letting their song be my words.
You know when you get in those really sad moods, where you almost want to make yourself cry? Okay, maybe I’m the only one, but I have had days like that. I vividly remember last summer when Branton was working in Kenora on a cabin job. He had been out there for a week, and I was really missing him, and having a hard day also missing Lyric. On the drive out there, I listened to the same song on repeat – over, and over, and over again. Halfway there, I called Branton, bawling my eyes out. He worriedly said, “What’s wrong?? Is everything okay? Are you safe?” I told him I was so sad, and he could hear the song – my trigger song – in the background. “Girl!! You’re listening to that song again, aren’t you? Please put on something happy, for me.” Now, I can look back and laugh at the situation, driving down the highway, my music one octave too loud, with tears pouring down, and knowing I was in that position by choice. Not one of my finer moments, but a moment that clearly depicts how music has the ability to do that. To bring you deeper.
The song I am referring to is Boots of Spanish Leather by Tyler Hilton and Alex Dirks (Winnipeg Girl!). I first listened to this version of the song days after losing Lyric, and it is actually the reason why I searched flights to Barcelona to begin with that evening, finding an insane deal, and booking our flights minutes later.
Over the course of the year, I created a Spotify playlist for days like these when I’m feeling introspective and need to get away in my head and be with my babes. I’ve linked it below, Infertility & Loss – When You Need A Good Cry. It is quite the eclectic playlist, and has a mix of different genres in there, as I’ve continued to add throughout the year.
Written By: Kayla Leskiw via Our Wonderfully Made Blog
Blog: Our Wonderfully Made