Tag: parenting

What NOT to Say to a Grieving Parent

Grief and Infant Loss

Shortly after Luke & Asher were born, I began to notice that people; friends; didn’t really know what to say to me/us, so instead of just remaining silent, they would try to be comforting and do far more damage to our already aching hearts than good. I know it was absolutely never done intentionally, but there are really just some things you should NEVER, EVER say to a grieving parent.

1) “Everything happens for a reason.” While I know that God has our entire lives mapped out already and that “we know that all things work together for good to them that love God,” Romans 8:28–IT STILL HURTS. And telling a grieving momma or daddy that everything happens for a reason is not helpful. Sometimes the only reason there is for a child to have died is sin. When sin entered the world, so did sickness and death.

2)  “God only gives you what you can handle.” First of all, this isn’t true at all. He will give you more than you can handle on your own, because we aren’t supposed to handle things on our own. Absolutely the only reason I am still here today, is because He saw me through it. He held me up when I couldn’t do it on my own; which was constantly.  He gave me purpose in getting out of bed each day. And He still does. Because guys, losing my baby was far more than I could handle without Him.

3) “At least”……at least you have your other children. At least you can have more babies. At least they didn’t revive him and leave him brain dead. At least one of your twins survived….. Guys, there is NO “at least” in infant and child loss. None. Already having kids at home doesn’t take away the love you have and the pain you feel for the baby/child you lost. Having the potential to be able to have more children in the future doesn’t take away the love you have and pain you feel for the baby/child you lost. Not to mention–sometimes this baby was the couples only hope of having biological children. Sometimes they have suffered unimaginable losses before this one, but suffered those in silence, or you just didn’t know about them. Sometimes the potential for having more children isn’t there at all.  Having Asher here with us still does not take away the pain we feel over the loss of Luke. Our love for Asher doesn’t erase the love we have for Luke. Having 4 living children now doesn’t take away the pain we feel from the loss of our first baby, Azaliah or the love we have for that baby. There is no acceptable time to ever use the phrase “at least” to a grieving parent.

4) “Things will get better.” Sometimes what I needed to hear was simply “this sucks. I know it hurts and it will always hurt. But I love you and I’m here.” That’s it. Don’t try to tell us that things will get better. We already know they will probably get better, because surely every day for the rest of our lives can’t possibly hurt this much……right?? But in the right here and right now; when the grief is so consuming and overwhelming and suffocating…..just be there for your friend. Let them know you love them and even better, let them know that you love their baby/child too. And that’s it.

5) “I know how you feel; I lost my (insert parent, grandparent, aunt/uncle, sibling, friend or pet).” Please don’t compare the loss of your parent, aunt/uncle, grandparent, sibling or friend to the loss of a child. Especially the loss of a “fur baby.” We have had our fair share of losses in life, but I’m telling you nothing, nothing compares to the loss of a child because it is completely against the natural order of life. Again, those losses are difficult but really, don’t compare your loss of any kind to that of any other persons loss of any kind–even if you both lost your mother, your life experiences and relationship with her will effect how the loss affects you. No two people grieve the same and no two losses are the same.

6) “You’re such a strong person.” No, I’m not. We aren’t. We continue living because we have to. Yes, we have a choice to continue on, but doing so doesn’t mean we are strong. Don’t assume that a parent that seems to have it all together on the outside, actually has it all together. Most likely, if you even are able to make eye contact with them, you will see otherwise.

7) “You still aren’t over this??” Ok, thankfully no one has ever said this one to me, but since we lost Luke, I have made so many amazing friends that are also loss mommas; both twinless twin mommas and mommas that have lost a singleton. And there are far too many instances where these friends have come to me or to our group of grieving mommas and reported that someone has actually said this to them! In high school I had a sweet little dog that was only my dog. She was a Christmas gift one year for only me. My junior year, she accidentally got poisoned out on our farm and I was devastated for months. Guys, this was a dog. And I have friends on facebook that post about the loss of their dog/cat/other pet months later after their loss and still get tons of responses with condolences. But for some reason people think that parents should be “over” the loss of their infant or child in a matter of weeks, no longer than a couple months. I don’t understand this one at all. The loss of your child is something you can never move on from. Move forward, yes; but move on, no.

This is definitely not a comprehensive list, by any means. Each situation with child or infant loss is different; so please use common sense in the situation and if you find yourself struggling to find words to speak, just DON’T! A silent hug does far more good than words do sometimes. 

And one last note. Daddies hurt too. Very, very deeply. They have also just lost a baby or child. Ask them how they’re doing. Reach out to them and show them some extra love too. Why do people often neglect the daddy even when he’s standing right by the momma?? Please don’t forget the grieving daddies out there. 💙💙

Edited to add: several loss momma friends of mine have said that they all feel the best thing to hear is simply something along the lines of “I’m so sorry this happened. It sucks. I can’t fix it, but I’m here for you and I love you.” Don’t ignore what’s happened as if it didn’t happen. Talking about our baby/child won’t remind us they’re gone, because we could never forget! But it will show that you care for them and for us. And that is worth so much. 💙💙

Satan’s Darts – Wednesday Edition

Bible/TheologyMatt's Musings

Do you ever have those days where one thing after another seems to chip away at your ability to have a nice, relaxing, joy-filled day? It’s like there’s something trying to get you to stumble or give up on trying to have that picture-perfect family and church life. Well…there is and they call him the Adversary, aka Satan. 1 Peter 5:8 informs us of his M.O. (that’s modus operandi for those of you who like Latin; i.e. how he operates):

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour”

Now, 1 Peter is specifically written to Christians (see 1 Pet 1:1-2), so that tells me he’s more ragingly interested in attacking believers than he is non-believers. As many good preachers remark, if he can’t keep you out of heaven he’ll do everything he can to get you to ruin your testimony so you can’t help other people in. His best tool in keeping people out of heaven is an ineffective Christian with a poor testimony.

I’ve come to understand that the stronger your faith is and the harder you try to live for God and do His will, the harder Satan works to ruin you. Ephesians 6:16 gives us his preferred method for taking down earnest Christians:

“Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.”

He’s like a petulant child lobbing rocks at you from a distance just to get you to react! He wants to break your spirit and make you lash out in anger and frustration. I don’t know about you, but this usually happens to me on Sundays and Wednesdays…when I’m supposed to be in church ministering and being an encouragement to others. Try teaching about biblical parenting with patience after you’ve given your kids a thorough tongue-lashing. It feels like you’re holding up a giant “I’m a hypocrite!” sign.

I recently had such a Wednesday where Satan was lobbing fiery dart after fiery dart:

– My workday was filled with people not doing their jobs or constantly asking me how.

– I was stewing (maybe obsessing) over the potential of getting some bad news from a medical test the day prior.

– Our 8-month-old preemie was being super cranky and feverish. We suspected teething, but he was just generally not a happy camper.

– Our 2-year-old suddenly developed a 102 fever – there went church for the night.

– Our 3- and 5-year olds were being rambunctious (as small boys tend to be) and incredibly loud trying to talk over the other two who were crying.

– The dog was scratching at the door constantly wanting out (unless she wanted in, of course).

– Dinner was chaotic and all the kids wanted something different.

– Sara dealing with a very rude billing department over the mountain of medical bills we’ve accrued over the last year. I was trying to keep the chaos down for her but it wasn’t going so well.

Man…it was just one thing after another and I was on the verge of having a rather loud and animated meltdown. I sat at the top of the stairs watching the chaos below and listening to the chaos in the bedroom where my wife had retreated so she could hear someone being rude to her over the phone. I just sat there…wondering how an evening could go so sour when I was trying so hard to do the right things for everyone and get to church.

Then Ephesians 6:16 hit me and it all made sense. I was being pelted with fiery darts and I had to either decide to rage out over it or make some lemonade. The cool thing about Ephesians 6:16 is in the first part of the verse where Paul tells us exactly what to do about the darts: “Above all, [take up] the shield of faith.”

Above all…more important than the belt of truth…more important than the breastplate of righteousness…more important than the gospel of peace and helmet of salvation…that shield of faith is the most important piece of armor because it’s what helps you withstand the fiery darts that are meant to make you ineffective in your Christian walk. Hallelujah! I had the perfect lemonade maker and all I had to do was pick it up (why I wasn’t holding it already is the subject of another post on spiritual readiness…)! Here’s how I used it…

First, I picked up each of my kids one-by-one and loved on them and a peaceful calm settled in. Maybe they figured out they didn’t need to yell and whine to get my attention or maybe I was just more calm because I recognized they weren’t being bad…they were being kids. I didn’t need to explode on them and provoke them to wrath; I needed to nurture them (Eph 6:4).

Next, I decided to be more intentional with them the rest of the night. Ellie got a couple more bedtime songs. The boys got an extra book and Bible story. By the time the bedtime routines were done, everyone was full of smiles and “I love you’s.”

As is normal, Sara was still getting the baby down when I was finished with the other kids, so I cleaned up the kitchen for her and got my breakfast ready for the morning while I watched some Star Trek (hey…don’t judge me…everyone is geeky about something).

I didn’t get to go to church, but I got to enjoy the family that God blessed me with. Here’s the thing, though; it didn’t happen by deciding that I wasn’t going to let the chaos and disappointments bother me. It happened by choosing to love everyone else instead of loving myself (i.e. selfishly concentrating what was not going right for me). It happened by putting God back in the center of everything where He belongs. That is essentially the core of how God wants us to go about life while here on this earth (Matt 22:35-40).

If you’re a Christian, rest assured that Satan is coming after you and doing whatever he can to trip you up. He’s lobbing those fiery darts your way. If you’re not carrying your shield of faith and prioritizing God in your life, your guard will be down and those darts will be free to hit you right in the face. Without centering your life on your faith in God, your priorities and desires will be off the mark and it will be easier for the Adversary to throw you off balance and get you to sin.

Next time you’re having a dart-filled day, remember to pick up your shield and resist the Devil; and I promise that he will flee from you (James 4:7).

But God

Parenting

Hi! I’m Sara and I have OCD. I am a control freak (I’ll deny that one though). I am as type A as they come. I am also incredibly introverted. Now, I don’t avoid outside human interaction, but prolonged periods of human interaction drain me. Prolonged periods of constant stimulus also drain me; both emotionally but truly physically as well. I thrive off of down time. I need down time and quiet time. Yeah, I said it, I need quiet time. I have 4 living children that range in age from 8 months old to 5 years old. Four very needy, demanding young children. And I need quiet time. Asher is exclusively breastfed and eats often throughout the day. Our 2 year old, Eliana, is jealous of Asher needing mommy so much and therefore she also needs mommy constantly as well. Our 3.5 and 5 year olds are…..BOYS. Meaning they are loud and rambunctious and provide constant stimulation. Did I mention before that constant noise & stimulation drains me?? And have you ever tried maintaining order in a home with one child?? Multiply that times 4 kids and this OCD, control freak has a difficult time maintaining composure. There is always laundry to be done and dishes to be washed. Floors always need to be swept and mopped or vacuumed, and there isn’t enough time during the day to get it all done. It’s hard. It’s a lot of work to be a good momma to these little ones. It’s a lot of work to be a good wife to Matt while being a good momma to these little ones. And I fail at both far too often; way more than I’d like to admit to even myself. We have days where we all end up in tears at one point or another. There are days that I think to myself that God had to have made a mistake in making me a mother. And there are even days where I voice that thought to those closest to me. These babies of mine deserve the best mother in the world and even on my good days, I don’t feel worthy enough to be their momma.

But God…..

I’m reminded that He put me here in this position for a reason. He deemed me worthy enough to be their momma. Not because of anything I’ve done or can do on my mind own, but because of Him. Follow God wherever you are. He put you there to serve Him in the position you are in. Every position God puts you in is important. Each season of life has a purpose in shaping who you are or will be, or even helps guide you to shape the lives of others. So if that means that I serve Him by doing my best to be the momma these kids need, then that is what I will strive to do…..and OCD, control freak momma will have to learn to chill out a little more. And my babies are definitely worth that. đź’™

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