Kristen’s beautiful son Cohen would have been 9 months old today. Instead he was born straight into the arms of Jesus when Kristen had a stillbirth at 38.5 weeks.
I first told you about Cohen in my letter To Mothers with Empty Arms. Then Kristen shared with us what life was like 3 months later. Now Kristen wants to say “thank you” for all of your support. First, she would like to offer you some practical advise if you ever find yourself trying to help a friend after a stillbirth. Then she has a special gift for one lucky reader.
I spoke with Kristen recently about what things were helpful and hurtful after her stillbirth. Together we came up with this list. Please remember that everyone deals with grief differently. These are suggestions based on Kristen’s personal experience. They are not hard and fast rules.
The Do’s & Don’ts of Helping a Friend After a Stillbirth
Do Offer to Literally Be There – Kristen hated being home alone with her two kids after her husband returned to work. Having people come to the house was helpful.
Do Take Meals – A friend set up a meal schedule for Kristen and her family through Take Them A Meal. For 3 months Kristen didn’t have to worry about cooking. “The last thing I was thinking about was food. I wouldn’t have eaten if it was up to me to cook food.” – Kristen
Do Make Phone Calls & Send Text Messages – Kristen admits that she didn’t always answer the phone or return text messages, but it still meant a lot to know that people were thinking about her family.
Don’t be Discouraged if Your Messages Aren’t Returned – That doesn’t mean they aren’t appreciated.
Do Send Cards – Phone calls and text messages are great, but receiving cards was Kristen’s favorite. She loves having a physical card that she can go back and look at again and again.
Don’t Address Cards to Just the Wife – After Kristen and her husband first lost Cohen, most of the cards were addressed to both of them. However, after a month or so most of the cards were only addressed to Kristen. Her husband also lost a son. Men need the support too.
Don’t Send Tracts – Yes tracts, a pamphlet that explains how to be saved through Jesus Christ. Kristen received a track in an anonymous sympathy card. It didn’t go over very well.
Do Pray – Kristen’s faith was rocked when she lost Cohen. Prayer has become difficult for her, but she says, “The only way I am sane and able to get up and take care of my kids is because other people are praying for me.” Seven of Kristen’s friends took things one step further. They each picked one day of the week and committed to praying for Kristen on that day for an entire year. That made Kristen feel special.
Don’t Say “It was God’s will” – Did God want Cohen’s heart to stop? Was it always in God’s plan for Cohen to die? Was this really God’s will? These are hard questions and you might have an opinion about it, but keep it to yourself. Hearing that her son’s death was God’s will was not helpful or comforting to Kristen.
Do Visit The Baby’s Grave – It means a lot to Kristen when she hears that friends have visited Cohen’s grave.
Don’t be Afraid to Talk About the Baby – Sometimes Kristen feels like people are watching her, thinking about the stillbirth, but are afraid to say anything. Please just address it. Don’t act like it never happened. “Yes, I will probably cry, but I would rather that you talk to me instead of pretending that it didn’t happen.” – Kristen
Don’t Expect Your Friend to Go Back to Normal – She probably won’t ever be “normal” again.
Most important of all… Don’t forget.
“Everyone’s lives can’t stop because our’s did, but it nice when people remember. For us it isn’t ever going to go away. An occasional card or flowers are nice. Anytime people want to bring me food I will accept it. No problem. You want to hire me a private cook? Bring it on. I won’t say no. 🙂
Please talk about Cohen instead of waiting for me to bring him up. I don’t always want to be the one who brings him up. I like to know that people are thinking about him.
No one is going to miss seeing Cohen at church or at school. He never went. But he was here. He was real. He was real to us. He wasn’t a nine month dream. I need people to remember him.” – Kristen
And now to the Simply Rebekah community… Thank you! Thank you for the prayers and supportive comments that you have left for Kristen and myself over the past nine months. It means a lot to both of us.
*** This giveaway is now closed. ***
Kristen would like to say thank you by giving one reader this beautiful hat and infinity scarf that she made. To enter simply leave a comment on this post.
You may have extra entries in the random drawing if you:
- Subscribe to Kristen’s new blog and leave a separate comment telling me you subscribed. Kristen has started blogging about grief and her crazy life at What’s Wrong With That Woman. You can find a form on her homepage to subscribe by email.
- Subscribe to Simply Rebekah via email or RSS and leave me a separate comment telling me how you subscribe. If you already subscribe, you can leave that in a comment also.
Disclosure: One winner will be chosen by random & notified by email after this giveaway closes on March 12, 2013 at 11:59 PM EST. Giveaway is open to USA & Canada. I was not compensated in any way. If you enjoy reading silly fine print like this then be sure to check out my full disclosure policy.