After losing Holden, I was blown away by the amount of love, support and grace we were shown. It has been almost 10 months since we lost our son, but I still get goose bumps when I remember the love. It is humbling to say the least.
Recently I asked 84 other Hope Mommies to share some positive things they remember people doing for them, and they helped me compile this list.
I hope that you never have to do this for someone, as that means they have lost their precious baby. I hope that you don’t even have to continue reading this. But if you happen to be a friend or family member of someone who is experiencing the loss of a child, please read the following. It will empower you to help in a meaningful way, in a situation that seems hopeless.
These things are not in a particular order of importance; rather they are listed in the order the other Hope Mommies sent them to me.
1. Dinners/Meals: Grieving parents can barely get out of bed, much less cook a meal. Freezable meals (in freezable containers) are especially helpful, so that they can be eaten when needed. If the parents haven’t made it back from the hospital yet, stocking their fridge/freezer with food is wonderful.
An important note to this is that oftentimes it is best to just leave food at the door, especially during the first week or two. This is a time that is unbearably difficult, and the stress of conversation and “putting on a face” is very difficult. You may need to remind elderly friends of this if you are scheduling meals, as they are more likely to sit for hours on end.
2. Scheduling meals: Oftentimes knowing that something, anything is routine is nice. This is especially good if the family has other children, since they still need “normalcy”.
3. Restaurant gift cards: These can be used whenever and are extremely thoughtful.
4. Gifts for other siblings: Other siblings usually get very ignored; during a time they need even more attention. Please remember them when you are visiting at the hospital too.
5. Cards and letters: Sending a written note can make a huge difference in a grieving person’s day. Random notes, after most people have stopped sending them, are extremely important. The cards that come, after the rest stop coming, are sometimes the ones that mean the most.
6. Pray: Truly praying, not just saying so, is life changing. Grieving families so desperately need prayer.
7. Verses of comfort and hope: Sending positive Scripture is encouraging and are the Words that can provide real peace.
8. Plant flowers: Fresh flowers/plants from funeral services die, but plants in a flowerpot or flowerbed, it will provide more lasting beauty.
9. Trees: Planting or sending a tree in the loved one’s honor is a long-lasting gift. We were sent a tree to plant in our yard in memory of Holden, and some have had trees planted in gardens and parks in memory of their babies.
10. Ask about Dad/remember him: Sometimes the Hope Mommy gets all the attention, when the Hope Daddy is hurting just as much.
11. Say the child’s name: Grieving parents absolutely ache to hear their child’s name. PLEASE remember to use his/her name in every conversation you have with them about their child. Just as your child has a name, so does the Hope Baby. Do not ever assume the parents don’t want a reminder of their baby’s name. They will never forget their babies, but rather LOVE to hear you remember and talk about them!
12. Care for other children: Sometimes having some alone time is priceless. Offer to babysit when a lot of visitors are over too. One Hope Mommy had a friend take her other children for a few hours and gave her a Barnes & Nobles gift card. She had instructions to pick something out for herself and get some alone reading time in.
13. Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep/Photographers: If it is still early, let parents know about NILMDTS and other organizations that capture a baby’s memory, free of charge. The photos we were given by Shuffield Photography, captured our son forever on earth.
14. Drive: Offer to drive the Hope Family to and from the funeral service(s). It is relieving to have a chauffer, instead of focusing on driving in extreme pain.
15. Clean: Offer to clean and/or hire a cleaning service for an amount of time. After the intense tragedy of losing a child, it is nearly impossible to get motivated to clean. Several Hope Mommies have hugely benefitted from a cleaning service for a couple of months. This is a gift that several people (i.e. church family/work friends) can all pitch in to provide.
Another spin on this is to clean the whole house before the family gets back from the hospital, including placing clean sheets on the bed. This makes home a little more pleasant.
16. Grocery Shop: Most Hope Mommies are too exhausted physically and emotionally to shop. Something extra special is just dropping groceries off at the door without even offering to go. It is hard for a lot of people to take up offers, even if they want it, since they don’t want to be a burden.
17. Jewelry: Some of the most precious pieces of jewelry Hope Mommies own are those with their babies initials, pictures, birthstones or names on them. This is a gift that makes a Hope Mommy feel as though her baby is “real”, loved and cared for by the giver.
18. Knitted/handmade gifts: One Hope Mommy was given a gift that her knitting friends all passed around and knitted for her. Each mom knitted a part of it for her.
19. Texts: Lengthy phone conversations take too much energy sometimes, so a simple text to say hello and share love is a great reminder of care.
20. Activities for other siblings: A museum membership or movie gift cards are a way to give a gift that allows the family to do something together.
21. Send the parents on a getaway: This is a big gift (may need to have a few people pitch in), but it’s so helpful and amazingly refreshing. Our friends sent us on a weekend getaway to Ruidoso, which was healing and beautiful for our marriage.
22. Pay funeral expenses: The last thing anyone expects when expecting, is to pay for their child’s funeral. It adds the worst burden to pain.
23. Anything to hold or see with the Hope Baby’s name on it: Teddy bears (Molly Bears), frames, jewelry (as stated above), etc. are so meaningful. I had a friend tag a picture of a “Holden Street” sign, which was exactly what I needed that day. Random reminders of our babies’ names are sweet to our hearts.
24. Acknowledge at dedications: Baby dedications at church are such a painful time for Hope Families. Acknowledging a Hope Baby is precious and meaningful. Many Hope Mommies shared that this made the day a lot more bearable.
25. Remember Hope Babies at holidays: Holidays (especially the first year) are obviously extra difficult. Don’t breach the subject, but rather say the baby’s name and remember that Hope Mommies and Daddies are struggling. A Christmas ornament with the Hope Baby’s name engraved on it, or an Easter egg with the Hope Baby’s name are precious gifts.
26. Help with thank you cards: My mom sat for hours writing thank you cards with me. We were able to talk, cry and laugh together during this time. It also relieved a huge burden since there are so many thank you cards to write.
27. Paintings and scrapbooks: These “labors of love” are incredibly thoughtful and cherished.
28. Give in their honor: A gift to a charity in the Hope Baby’s honor is a way for their legacy to live on.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Hebrews 10:24