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Courtney's Story Part II

Make sure you read Part I of Courtney's inspiring story.

What have been sources of support to you during your loss?

Shortly before her passing, Elowyn's grandparents and uncle left their homeland and moved to the United States so that they could be a part of her life. Because of this, they were able to be here for her birth, and have been my greatest source of comfort and support through her loss. I am so grateful for their unwavering love and support, and I am eternally grateful to her for drawing them here.

We have also received enormous physical, financial, and spiritual support from our church family. Grief is the ultimate test of faith, and in the moments when I have felt too weak even to pray, it was a comfort to know that there were so many people doing so on my behalf. What would you say to other grieving mothers? I would tell them this is not something you can ever "get over", or even "get through." It is something you can only learn to live with. This experience will always stay with you, and you will never be the same person you were before this happened. Part of the healing process is realizing that things will never "go back to normal," because there is nothing "normal" about losing your child. It is painful, isolating, and completely unfair - and it's going to take time to learn how to live without them. You may have to learn how to smile again, how to laugh without feeling guilty, how to be around someone else's children without feeling hurt or resentful, and it won't happen overnight.

Be patient with yourself. Don't allow yourself to feel pressured to answer the phone, go out, do the laundry, or anything else you don't want to do right now. The only thing you have to do is heal - everything else can wait.

But more than anything, I would tell her that she is still a mother. The rest of the world may not know your child, but you do. Your baby was real, and their life mattered! Regardless of how tiny they may have been when they were taken from you, that baby was yours, and they will always be.

This child lived inside of you for every moment of their life, and you will carry them in your heart every moment for the rest of yours. What advice or words of wisdom would you have for loved ones who want to support a grieving mother? Concentrate your supportive energy on empathy, not advice. We all struggle to know what to say to someone who is grieving, but sometimes it is better to love much, and say little. Some words may actually do more harm than good, even if they're well intentioned. Some of the worst things you can say to a bereaved parent are: " At least they ____ (i.e.: didn't suffer, never knew sin, died innocent, etc.). " " God allowed this for a reason." " I know just how you feel." " You can always try again." " Why don't you just adopt?" While these common phrases may seem encouraging to you, they may feel like daggers to the person who just lost their child - especially for someone who has been struggling with ongoing infertility or recurrent pregnancy loss.

So offer sympathy and support, but steer clear of offering advice unless it's requested. The best thing you can say to a bereaved parent is, "I'm so sorry for your loss, I can't imagine how you must be feeling." Sometimes actions can speak louder than words! Some of the best ways you can show support for a grieving parent is to try and ease the burden of immediate physical needs. Grief can be crippling and overwhelming especially for mom who, on top of her grief, will also be recovering from the physical aspects of childbirth for several weeks postpartum. Physical ways you can show love and support are: - preparing a meal for them and gifting it in a disposable container - picking up a few groceries - offering to help with housekeeping or yard work - offering a thoughtful gift, condolence card, or monetary gift card. An especially thoughtful gift for a mother would be anything to help ease her physical recovery such as a massage appointment, pedicure, heating pad or heated blanket. - Ordering a customized memorial gift with the baby's name, and birthdate. Giving parents a physical touch point gift (such as a stone engraved with their name, a keychain, charm bracelet, shadow box, or picture frame) offers parents a way to continue to feel physically connected to their child. You might even consider adding the baby's name to the international star registry, or planting a tree in their honor. - Remember that cash gifts are always appropriate after any personal loss. Depending on the baby's gestational age, burial arrangements may need to be made which can be costly. The unexpected expense of medical bills and cremation or burial services can add up quickly. The last thing any bereaved parent deserves is to be burdened with financial hardship on top of their grief. If your loved one withdraws, don't take it personally. Try to understand that right now, what they may need most is a little time and space. Grief is exhausting, relentless, and for some - it can be a difficult burden to share. Just be patient and have the tea kettle on standby for when they are ready.

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