What You Can Do: Helping Grieving or Hurting Mommies. Part 2

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Last month I wrote about ways to help moms who are hurting by being there and keeping it simple. Today, I’m continuing the series with more thoughts on how to help.

Give Generously

Raising any child is expensive, but when a child is sick for a prolonged time, passes away, or has special needs, families can encounter astronomical expenses. Funeral costs, medical bills, and weekly doctor/therapy co-pays are among the obvious expenses. Add in gas, hotel, and meal costs for when a child travels to see a specialist or undergo surgery. Think about all the special adaptive equipment or food that a family must purchase for a little one. Sure, there are government assistance programs, but many of them take years to get on and still don’t cover everything a child needs.

Not only are families paying out, but sometimes money isn’t always coming in. My husband quit his job for the better part of a year as we worked to help our son. Was it the right decision? Yes, I believe it helped save his life! However, we are still dealing with the results of not having an income for many months while simultaneously paying huge medical bills. Thankfully, we received generous donations from friends and family that really helped support us during that time. I know we would not have been able to give our son the care he desperately needed without those monetary gifts.

If you know a hurting mom, consider how you might give to her family. Every little bit helps, even if it’s just paying for one meal. The last thing a hurting mom wants to think about is how to pay the bills while she is caring for her child.

Our son after he was born not breathing on his own.

Let Them Grieve

Initially my son’s health was severely compromised causing my life to be far removed from typical motherhood. I accompanied my son to an average of 5-6 weekly therapy and/or doctor visits until he was almost two. My husband and I rarely slept more than four hours at night during his first year because of his severe health conditions. Furthermore, our son was on homebound status and could not leave the house, not even for a stroller ride around the block.

I was so angry and sorrowful that my son and I lost out on many of the special moments a parent and child enjoy during the first years. Moreover, I grieved missing out on the experiences of normal, everyday motherhood. I cried every time I ran errands and saw other moms roaming the aisles freely with their healthy babies. I wept when I packed away all of my son’s unused 0-3 month clothing because he was still in the hospital.  My heart ached many days when I spent more time talking with doctors and fighting for insurance coverage than holding my sick baby.  Finally, I grieved the pain that my son constantly bore.

Friends and family inquired about our wellbeing during those difficult years. Frequently, when I expressed the grief I was battling, many would dismiss my feelings.  “Yes, but he is alive! And he is so resilient to all of it!” “You shouldn’t be struggling with these feelings anymore, look how far he has come.” I eventually started suppressing my feelings because I felt so much pressure to not grieve- my son was alive after all. I understood what they meant, and I truly was appreciative of the unique special moments and memories our son’s circumstances had given us. Most of all I was thankful that my son was alive, but I still felt a loss.

Please don’t misunderstand grieving parents, just because they are grieving doesn’t mean they are not grateful at the same time.  To this day I still cringe when I see my son’s body covered with faded scars. As they remind me of a precious life saved, they simultaneously remind me of the pain he bore.

Finally holding my son for the first time. Pure joy!

Expressing and working through grief can be the beginning of healing for many moms. Be patient and understanding while hurting moms work through their grief. Let them grieve, without pressuring them to feel the need to always see the bright side. Even years down the road, after the initial severity of the trauma has passed they may still have times of grief.

If you are a grieving parent, I am sorry for your pain.

Because I know you need the freedom to grieve, I’d love to offer this as a safe place to do so.

What is your story?

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Amber is a central Iowa native. Amber has been married to her best friend Tommy since 2007. Amber feels she has the best job in the world, being a stay at home mom to her two boys, Miles (August 2009) and Graham (May 2012). On any given day you may find Amber in her pajamas past noon, ignoring a couch piled high with clean laundry and a sticky kitchen floor desperate for a scrubbing. Much of Amber’s joy and fulfillment comes from serving her family. Amber is passionate about advocating for her son Miles and other children with special needs. Amber is currently learning and enjoying what it means to raise a healthy infant with her son Graham. Besides loving on her family, Amber enjoys ethnic foods, nerdy strategy and card games, lazy days, and good books.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Great post, Amber. The way you are able to express where you’ve been–and maybe even still are–not only gives us a beautiful window into your heart but also gives us who have never “been there” some helpful advice that we might not otherwise know. Let me just take this opportunity to acknowledge your grief and to say that I’m sorry for the hurt and the burden you’ve had to bear. I’m not sure if I’ve always been the kind of friend that you’ve most needed; and for any instances when I may have been unknowingly insensitive to your pain, I’m sorry.

  2. “Please don’t misunderstand grieving parents, just because they are grieving doesn’t mean they are not grateful at the same time.”  That is SO true.  We constantly teeter on keeping that balance. 
     
    Thank you for continuing to write about this sensitive topic.  Writing about our little angel is therapy for me.  I continue to write more of our story on our blog http://www.ourheavenlyhomestead.com.  All are welcome to read about our experience. 
     
    Thank you again,
    Maria

  3. Thanks so much Amber.  I think on any level when your baby isn’t everything you thought they would be there is grief.  Even though my son doesn’t have medical concerns like your son did I relate to a lot of what you said.  His first year and a half of life was so hard and sleepless we dealt with one thing after another.  I am finally now 5 years later realizing how hard it was and I am starting to work through all of those emotions.  I honestly don’t know how we made it through.  God was gracious to get me through those days and now I can start to process everything.

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