This week marks a very special, heart-wrenching day for our family. Friday was my beautiful daughter Leila Mae’s 1st birthday. A year ago, I had the incredible honor of giving birth to a very special little angel.
Caring for someone in the depths of grief doesn’t have to be a costly endeavor. It feels like the more money we throw at grief, the more it should be relieved. But it’s really quite the opposite. When we lost our baby girl, it was those thoughtful little things that people did that really meant the most to us.
The kind woman who, instead of picking out a card and let Hallmark do the talking,wrote me a note from her heart on some generic stationary. Cost? Under a dollar.
Two different families brought bags of groceries for us. Cost? Varies. I would advise you know the family’s eating habits if you’re going to go this route. At the risk of sounding ungrateful, one friend bought us junk food and sugary drinks. My son was thrilled…DH and I, nonplussed. But we still love that she cared enough to try.
A friend who supplied a much-needed bottle of wine. Cost? Under $10.
Cards and notes of encouragement. Just someone dropping an email to tell us they’re praying for us. One of my favorites was from my sister-in-law, who wrote me at 5am her time to let me know she was lifting my broken heart up to God right then. Cost? Free.
A few weeks ago I brought a meal to a family from our church who had lost their daughter at 24 weeks gestation. I was struck by the amount of cut flower arrangements slowly dying on their kitchen table. Thinking how hard that must be, to watch something else die on top of their complicated emotions. I had brought her a pot planted with forget-me-not seeds, hoping that watching something grow would lift their spirits a bit. Cost? $15.
If it’s someone you’re close to and know well, offer to take their children on an outing. Grieving in front of your children is hard, we mommies tend to suck it up and paste on a smile when we really need some alone time to just fall apart. Cost? A few hours of your time.
Run some errands. Grab a book of stamps from the post office and some thank you cards from the store. Even better, help mom and dad write out those cards. Cost? Under $10.
Make a donation to a charity in memory of the person we’re missing. A friend of ours in Arizona made a donation in Leila’s name to her local Children’s Memorial Park. I love that she takes pictures of her kids playing there and emails them to me. It means the world to us that someone remembers our little girl. On the flip, I’ve made donations to March of Dimes for others going through this. Cost? Your choice.
Don’t be afraid to talk to us about her. Ask to see her pictures. Acknowledge her presence and absence in our lives. Sure, we’ll probably cry – but that’s a good thing. Cost? Absolutely free. As a side note — don’t try to console – most things you would think to say will hurt more than you could imagine.
Don’t be that person who says “if there’s anything I can do, please let me know.” There’s no more definitive way to make sure your phone doesn’t ring. Call or email and ask what you can do.
Always thinking of you, precious little girl, and loving you with all my heart. Until we meet….