I'm not sure how many people read the comments on this blog, or how many of you saw Melissa's comment on my last post about the loss of her daughter, Evelyn. I read her comment and thought "There is nothing I can possibly do or say to make this easier for her."
I'm living this reality every day, but sometimes my first impulse is still to think, "I have no idea. I can't even imagine how someone copes with the loss of their baby."
It's not that I forget for a moment about Eliza, or about the reality that I've lost a baby. It's just that I don't know what I could possibly say that might be helpful in such an impossible situation.
I still get e-mails, blog comments, and sometimes texts or phone calls from friends or friends-of-friends or blog readers telling me that someone they know and love has lost a baby, and often they want advice: "What can I do to help them?"
I always feel completely blank at first. Then I try to come up with some advice... Don't say "Everything happens for a reason." Don't expect them to be okay again in six months. Or a year. Don't be afraid to say their baby's name even though you feel awkward. Don't make it about you. Put it on your google calendar so you remember and acknowledge their baby's birthday.
My friend Beth was the one who said something like, "I know it's hard to hear about other people's kids, so I'm not going to talk about Lilly unless you bring it up first." I felt like that was such a gift--to acknowledge how painful it was for me, not to make me sit, tense, just bracing myself to "act normal" if Lilly came into the conversation, and not to make me feel like an asshole about not being able to talk about her daughter (who was just over a year old when Eliza died).
But when Beth got breast cancer, even though I'm almost six years into this so I should pretty much have a PhD in What to Do When Life Gets Shitty, the first thing I felt (besides scared and sad) was panicky that I was going to handle this wrong.
So if you've ever been in that place of "How do I help my friend?", here is a book that you can put on your wishlist (or gift list) (or both):
There Is No Good Card for This by Kelsey Crowe and Emily McDowell (It's not released until January, so it won't work for Christmas unless you give vouchers. But you can preorder!)
Related: I want to order half a dozen of those enamel pins she's selling now and keep them and wear them and give them away. They are so great. I especially like this one, this one, this one, and this one.