For a few very hard years this word was my mantra.
The word means
-undismayed; not discouraged; not forced to abandon purpose or effort
-undiminished in courage or valor; not giving way to fear
But the truth is, I was often dismayed by everything that had taken place, and I did battle discouragement. I battled fear and doubts. I hurt and was angry, and sometimes "undaunted" sounded more like a mockery than a mantra, and I was determined to be real about all of it in these posts, thus the name, Undaunted Reality. More than that, though, I was determined to live undaunted, not because I'm so great or strong, but because my God is, and no matter what this world looks like, He is the only reality that matters.
I pray I live the reality of Him beautifully undaunted.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Missing Answer--When a Baby is Lost

Donna brought up a hard topic in her comment this morning. A friend has lost a baby, do you say to that?

I think there is no pat answer, but I will share what insight I have.

I have a friend who has lost two babies with a son between them. We have talked throughout the years of healing, and I will share what she has said I did well.

First, I cried with her. She called me, told me about the loss, and we cried together.

I think I muttered, "I'm just stunned. I'm so sorry," a dozen times or more. They had tried so long to get pregnant and were so excited...I just cried.

Second, I also sent her a card on her due dates. I know that might odd, but I've learned moms do not forget their due dates, and those days are very hard for a lot moms. Often they feel like they are alone because no one remembers, and by then, they are supposed to be "past it", so they try not to say anything. Society is really cruel with what we expect folks to sweep under the rug. I chose to jerk the rug up.

 I wanted her to know I remembered these precious lives that had been part of her. Most folks either forget those dates or try to let them slip by unnoticed. I wrote in the cards if they were the wrong thing I was sorry, but I wanted her to know I remembered these precious gifts. For probably 2 or 3 years after that, I would call or email and say, "I know this would have been a birthday. How are you?" It was so non-glorious. I had NOTHING. BUT, she said the fact I remembered was precious, and I remembered the names they gave the babies.

She thanked me who knows how many times. She said it felt good to know her babies were remembered...that SHE was remembered.

Along those lines, I also checked in at Christmas, especially the first Christmas because this was their first child, and they had been trying for a couple of years to get pregnant. That year they lost their son but two nephews were born well and healthy. Can you imagine how hard Christmas was? I confess I couldn't. BUT, I wanted her to know I knew she must be hurting.

Something I did for another friend was take her to lunch or coffee or something...and coincidentally, our plans always fell at the same times as baby showers for other friends of hers. She knew I understood if she wanted to go to those showers, but she always chose time with me...after all, we already had plans, she wanted to keep her word, and she knew I was really looking forward to that time. A few times, our plans conflicted with first birthday parties. Oddest thing how that happened. It was like they planned those things just to make it so she couldn't go.

I think the key is to let the person know you realize they have lost someone, someone very real.

I hate that garbage about, "Well, at least you never held that baby and learned to love it." I loved my babies from the second I saw those two pink lines. When I was 9 weeks pregnant with my son, I started spotting and cramping. A beating heart has never looked so beautiful as his did on that monitor that day in the ER. Losing a baby is heart-shredding stuff. There is no "at least", and the whole, "God needed that baby more than you..." If I were on a jury and a parent were being tried for violence comitted by him or her against someone thoughtless enough to say that, I would send that parent home without so much as a reprimand. In fact, I might pat the parent on the back and thank her for educating the masses on the result spewing obviously thoughtless comments. Just saying.

I think in some ways losing a baby during pregnancy can be harder because folks don't realize how hard it is. I've never experienced it, but from conversations I've had, the feeling no one understands or gets that YOUR CHILD HAS DIED is horrificly painful.

I think a good guiding principle is to remember that baby was a person, and those who lost that baby lost a valuable life. Treating that life as valuable, demonstrating to those grieving that you know this is a life-shaped hole in their hearts, showing the lost baby is precious and those dealing with the loss are precious...that is where our compassion and comforting abilities has to pour from. That is honestly all we have to give.

And as always, I'm a big proponent of asking what the person needs.

Instead of just saying, "Call me if you need me," you make the call. Say something like, "You were on my mind today, and I am concerned about you. I don't know what I can do, but I know this is incredibly hard and painful, and is there anything I can offer you? Do you just need to talk? You need to cry? You need me to make dinner? Want me to take your other kids so you can just have some rest?"

Honestly, this person may not be able to think of a way you can help because thinking is not a strength when one is grieving. Do a bit of thinking for this person. Toss out some ideas. Give the person a chance to pick something instead of having to expend the energy to create an answer.

And if you aren't close enough for physical presence, ask the same questions via phone or computer. "How are you? I'm praying for you. You've been on my mind. The holidays are coming up. I am concerned about you. I know these can be hard, and some folks feel they just have to push through as happy as possible. Are you alright? Need to talk?"

Sometimes I just say, "I can understand feeling like something is missing...a friend of mine dealt with a lot of anger during the holidays the year she lost her son...I think Mother's Day would be hard..." I'm amazed at how making an effort to empathize opens doors for conversation and offering comfort.

I've also asked frankly, "How do you need me to be on this road with you? I want to be here, and I don't know how. Tell me what I need to be for you."

Speaking from experience, it is crazy amazing how powerful it is when someone tries to step into the pain instead of trying to make you get over it. It is wildly comforting when someone walks right into where you are instead of expecting you to pull it together and get to them.

I think the greatest thing anyone can do is acknoweldge the loss and the pain. A gift from God has been lost. Yes, that baby is in His hands, but a momma and daddy have empty arms. Empty arms hurt. The size of the baby doesn't matter. The loss is still heart-size.

Parents need to know someone else knows that, too.


  1. Jerri, you are a blessing to the brokenhearted. I am so thankful that you have a heart for those who are grief-stricken and that God has equipped you to be a light in the midst of the darkness.

  2. Your words are more blessing than I have words to express...deeply grateful for His kindness...

  3. Thank you Jerri.

  4. Donna,
    My prayers are with you and them.