The Most Helpful Advice We Received After Losing Esther – Part 1

trailAfter losing our baby Esther, Adam and I had no idea what to do or how to process. We found ourselves forced into a world we had scarcely imagined, let alone experienced. We needed help to navigate through both the shock and pain, as well as the practical decisions. I am very thankful we received good advice from several different sources. Some came within minutes of our shocking news, and some weeks later. Of course, we also found some not-so-good advice. But I am very, very thankful for the experienced individuals who came to our aid in a most needed time. Their advice has helped us to be equipped for different steps along this journey. In the next couple posts, I want to share some of the best information we received on grieving the loss of a baby. I pray that by sharing these things, another mom or dad may find help in the midst of grief.

Here is Part One…

1. You must feel to heal, you must be real to feel.

These words were spoken to us less than 24 hours after we found out about Esther’s death. Adam and I have now spoken them to each other countless times in the last months. When tragedy strikes, there is a temptation to run from the pain in whatever way possible. While some initial numbness and denial is a part of grief, it is best to be real about what happened, and let the feelings come. Feeling deeply will eventually bring healing deeply.

Even amidst the confusion and immediate temptation to run, this idea resonated with what I knew deep down in my heart. We have been and are still doing our best not to mask or run from feelings of the loss, but walk through the depths of pain, believing we will find healing one day. We are finding these simple words to be very true.

2. Don’t treat this as a miniature loss. This is the real deal.

Many people attempt to treat the loss of a baby during pregnancy as a smaller loss. But in reality, a miscarriage or stillbirth is the loss of a child, a person, and a family member. The emotional grief and pain will be just as real and intense as another death.

Within hours of finding out our baby had no heartbeat, I remember thinking we might get short term relief by downplaying what happened in our own mind. It felt like a tempting road momentarily, but I really knew that if we were ever going to heal we needed to see this for what it really was – the horrifying death of our second child. Hearing this advice from a professional brought further clarity to us on how we wanted to walk through the days ahead.

Now a few months out, we know from experience this is the real deal. The grief, pain, and sense of loss have been deeper than we could ever have imagined. We are thankful for the people who validated this.

3. Keep all the memorabilia from the hospital. Make as many memories as you can.

This one gets back to the “feeling to healing” concept. In the immediate aftermath of death, the last thing on our mind was making memories. The pain was simply too great when we thought of all the memories we would never have with this child. However, I am SO glad that we were advised by more than one person to treasure anything and everything surrounding our baby’s birth and death. I now know that since the memories are fewer, they are so much more special. I am very grateful for the memory box, molded hand and foot prints, birth certificate, and other things the hospital gave us. We would not trade the precious hours we spent holding and loving Esther for anything in the world. Everything surrounding her birth is very special to us. I didn’t know until afterward that even some of the most painful moments would become some of the most treasured memories in my heart. Everything that reminds us of Esther is beautiful because she is beautiful. It hurts immensely that she is not here, but the memorabilia tell us that she was here and she always will be our daughter.

Be watching for The Most Helpful Advice – Part 2.