My world came crashing down when my first and only daughter was born into this world already in the arms of Jesus. Without breath in her lungs, the delivery room fell silent—void of her newborn cries.
This painful experience split my life into a new before and after: before Bridget and after. My life would never be the same. As God walked me (and sometimes carried me) through my grief, I witnessed His heart for the brokenhearted. On one hand, I saw the Body of Christ display how to hold the hearts of those who are hurting in deep and personal ways. But on the other hand, I felt the painful stings of friendships demonstrating how not to care for someone in grief.
Do you know a sister in Christ who has lost a baby? No matter what gestation or age she lost her baby (whether to miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss), she is grieving her precious child and all the hopes and dreams she had for them. As their friend or family member, you want to support her, but how? From my own firsthand experience, I’d like to share this simple advice: your presence in her pain is your best love offering.
Too many times, out of fear of saying the wrong thing or not knowing what to do, well-meaning people stay away from grieving moms in the name of “giving them space.” We assume that their family and closest friends are taking care of them. We think that we would be bothering them by entering into their sacred grief space.
But the opposite is true for the grieving mother. We long for someone to sit in our sadness with us and remember our baby in Heaven. Feelings of loneliness and isolation envelop us and we crave connection. Psalm 34:18 tells us that the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (NIV). As followers of Christ, we should model His compassion for those who are grieving. We are His hands and feet and are called to extend His love to a broken and hurting world, including to our fellow sisters in Christ.
Though there are many ways you can love a grieving mom through her pain, I’d like to share 3 specific ways you can support her after the heartbreaking loss of her baby:
Sit with her in her sadness.
Be present with her in her pain. Acknowledge her loss. Say her baby’s name. Listen and ask questions. Simply just be there. I promise she will never forget who showed up for her as well as who didn’t. Be the one who is comfortable with the uncomfortableness of her grief. Be her shoulder to cry on and don’t be afraid to cry with her. Grieving moms need a safe place to grieve and you can be one of the trusted people she can count on to share her heart and grief with.
Show up in tangible, physical ways.
her a gift in memory of her baby. Make it personalized with her baby’s name or Heaven Day. Bring her a meal. Do her laundry or pick up her groceries. These acts of service can relieve daily burdens for her in the midst of her overwhelming grief. Instead of telling her the overused phrase “Let me know if you need anything,” ask a specific question such as: “Can I bring you dinner on Monday or Tuesday?” or “What day next week would be best for me to pick up your groceries?”
Stay consistent and remember important days.
Put her baby’s due date and Heaven Day in your calendar and set an annual alert. Write her a card or bring her flowers. Remember her on Mother’s Day and acknowledge her baby in Heaven. And in the in-between days, send random ‘checking on you’ texts or phone calls to ask how she’s doing. She will appreciate your thoughtfulness and attention to her heart. Let her know you’re a friend she can count on to always remember her baby.
Jesus, Thank You for giving us the opportunity to love our sisters in Christ and show up for them in their grief. Let us be Your hands and feet to minister to their broken hearts. You promise to comfort the brokenhearted and we pray that our love offering to them would be an extension of the love You already have for them. Let us point them to Your love so You can shine Your light in the darkness of their grief. May they know of the wondrous hope they have in You to see their babies again in Heaven. Give us the words to say and guide our steps. Show us how to serve our sisters in a way that glorifies You. We love You, Lord. -Amen.
About the Author:
Ashley Opliger is the President and Executive Director of Bridget’s Cradles 501c3 nonprofit organization based in Wichita, Kansas. Bridget’s Cradles donates knit cradles to hold stillborn babies to over 1,250 hospitals in all 50 states. She is the host of the Cradled in Hope Podcast, a Gospel-focused podcast for grieving moms.
Ashley is married to Matt, and they have three children: Bridget (in Heaven), and two sons. She is a fully-devoted follower of Christ who desires for women to walk with Jesus through every season of their lives.
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