Today, on the blog, we've invited our dear friend, Annie Willems, to share an open letter from bereaved parents to their friends and family. We are so grateful for her words as we love and support those around us who are experiencing the most unimaginable loss. <3
Dear Family & Friends,
As you may have heard, we have had the heartbreaking experience of saying goodbye to our baby. To say that our hearts are shattered would be an understatement. Our goal for today is to breathe...and, if we’re being honest, even that is hard to do right now.
We know that you’re sad, too.
We appreciate each person who is choosing to walk beside us on this journey. Below are some ideas on ways that you can be a part of our grief.
> Please know that we love you and we desperately need you right now, but the truth is that we have so little to give in return. Much of our energy is being poured into just surviving. Your texts and emails mean so much to us. Don’t take it personally if we don’t respond. And please don’t give up on us if you don’t hear back.
> We feel surrounded and supported just by your presence. We’re comfortable with sitting in silence with you. You don’t have to say just the right thing... Giving us the space to talk without the pressure of casual conversation is important to our healing.
> If you were to do some yardwork, drop snacks off on the front porch, wash our car… anything like that would be appreciated. Please don’t ask us to tell you what we need, because we don’t know. All of our energy goes into taking the next breath. We simply don’t have the capacity to ask for anything specific.
> We had a child. An actual baby. We don’t get to snuggle that child right now, but they absolutely existed. Please don’t forget our child. You can say their name. (Often.) We long to talk about our baby. We want our baby to MATTER. You will not hurt us by talking about our baby.
> The loss of a child is new to us. We will continue to make the next best choice as we navigate our grief. We may make decisions that feel odd or unnecessary or excessive to you. Please respect this unwanted new normal that we’re experiencing.
> Open your calendar and make a note of our child’s birthday. It is – and will always be – an incredibly important day to us. You will bless our family by acknowledging it with each passing year.
> We’ll be crying a lot. For a long time. It’s okay. Sometimes the love we have for our baby is going to come out as tears. Please don’t be uncomfortable with it.
> We might also get angry. We may scream or throw things. We may get pissed off at pregnancy announcements. We may step away from relationships. Our marriage may have rocky moments. Anger is one of the emotions of grief that we’ll need to work through. Be patient with us.
> Any statement that includes the words “at least” should not be said to us. We don’t see anything good in the death of our child. Words won’t fix it or justify it for us. If you’re not sure what to say, please know that sitting with us in silence is completely acceptable.
> This is a loss that will last a lifetime. The edges may not be as sharp, but we will always miss our baby. Give us time. We don’t expect to get over our grief and we are okay with taking our time to feel every part of it.
Our loss has forever changed us. We’re thankful for each person who has chosen to walk beside us for the long haul. We know it won’t be easy on any of us, but we also know that we desperately need you right now.
Annie Willems is the co-owner of PNW Doulas and a doula who specializes in bereavement and pregnancy after loss.