Thoughtful Gifts and Acts for a Grieving Family

green succulent in teal ceramic vaseSome of my favorite, thoughtful gifts during our grieving season were:

  • The Sneaky Sneak Meal – The first day we found out the baby’s heart wasn’t beating we got a text about a meal on the doorstep from a dear friend who just decided it’s what we needed and didn’t even ask… she just knew… amazing.  Thoughtful.
  • Personal Messages – A tearful voicemail from my sister-in-love saying how sad she was for us and that she was praying for us.
  • Growing Life and Cheesecake – A beautiful plant (that is STILL alive) and a plate of various cheesecake pieces. Our sweet tia (auntie) hermana (sister) brought us this gift.  It is super meaningful for 2 reasons (1) a growing plant doesn’t die as quickly as a cut flower… important consideration when someone has just died, and (2) it’s tradition for Tia to bring cheesecake to our home, so it was automatic comfort food.  Thoughtful.
  • Ice Cream – Our sweet friends dropped off some DQ Blizzards late one evening (after kid-bedtime), two different flavors so we could choose our favorite.  Thoughtful.
  • Baby Memento – My Lara Necklace (See “Be Like Lara” for details).  Thoughtful.
  • Gift Cards – We got gift cards in the mail, on our doorstep, and in person.  They were mostly for restaurants, but also for a date nights and romantic getaway (and, sister, we needed to get away!). Thoughtful.
  • Cards – Most of the cards had few words on them with lots of tenderness.  Thoughtful.

There were quite a few other gifts we received, but the above stick out to me still.  The most painful “gift” was silence.  We did need the time alone as a family, but giving us silence instead of intentional, thoughtful serving was hurtful from people we actively served.

I learned so much about those I love and their comfort levels and how they would like to be served during times of sadness.  I want to know people well enough to know they need (and when they need) a meal dropped on their porch or a “thinking of you” text.  I hope this list helps you be intentional in building deeper friendships and relationships so that when hard times come, you’ll know what to give and when.

Thanks to my loved ones who are still loving me still through this hard time!

Things NOT to say to a grieving mama

grayscale photo of woman doing silent hand signYou may have heard some of these attempts to comfort from people you know.  I sure hope not, but if anyone who hasn’t lost a child is reading this, it’s my hope you’ll take note.  People actually said these things (or things like them) to me/us. Please learn from our pain to be wise with your words or just hug your loved one instead of saying hurtful things.

  • Just keep trying (… like you can actually replace a person, a baby)
  • I’m crossing my fingers for good news from you next time we talk.
  • You’ll be fine soon.
  • I’ve had a few of those (miscarriages), too.  You’ll be ok eventually.
  • Your baby is in a better place (…YES, but I am not THERE, yet!)
  • Maybe the miscarriage was a gift given your (financial) situation.

There are many more things we heard and felt from people we trusted (and didn’t) and so my plea is for us to be silent if our words aren’t inspired by the God of all comfort.

May we instead:

  • bring meals
  • bring chocolate
  • bring restaurant gift cards
  • sit quietly with our friends in front of a movie eating popcorn
  • make mementos of the little one’s life
  • let our loved ones grieve the loss of their little one in whatever way they need to

“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”    Proverbs 18:21

Day 5 – Be Like Lara


About two weeks after the D & C, my sweet friend, Lara, and I sat down for a chat. She was such a blessing to me.

See, she lost 3 of her own babies before being able to go to term with the 4 she has now, so she gets it.  Not only that, but she lost her precious 2 1/2 year old niece, Carli, just about 2 years ago and she was one of Carli’s main care givers.  Her heart is so broken about the loss of babies.  She has been through a lot with God and her family, and her wisdom was priceless, timely, and empowering.

Lara made me a necklace. You can see it in the picture. The top jewel bead represents the month we conceived, the middle jewel represents the month the baby died, and the bottom jewel represents the month the baby was due (still coming in September).  The butterfly is a reminder of the baby (and I see them all over).  I wear this necklace A LOT.  It really does help sooth me and keep my heart tender.

Lara brought me lunch, hugs, wisdom, and a thoughtful, compassionate gift.  I will write another post on how to (and not to) support people who have lost their children (or at least some of my perspective on it), but just a little forecasting – Lara gets an A+.  She checks in on me from time to time via text and at church.  We’ve not spent much time together, but God’s knit our hearts together and we are both a part of this stupid club, so if we’ve got to be here… it’s just better to be here together.  She gives great hugs and her prayers mean a lot.

There are people in your life who will step in when needed. Be that kind of person.

When someone else goes through something you’ve been through, go the extra mile.

Carve out the time to make the necklace (Michael’s has birth month beads and all the other supplies you’ll need). Make or pick up food they like, drink tea with them, and share yourself and your pain to them so they will know they really can get through this.

Update 7 years later:

I’ve made a Lara necklace for 3 other people since the gift Lara gave me. I wear my necklace at the very least on the day we lost the baby and the baby’s due date. I think of and pray for Lara and pray for her family. She didn’t make the necklace so I’d pray for her, but it’s an organic response.

When I’ve given mamas the necklace Lara gave me, they are so moved. Whenever a friend wears hers to church, a give her a knowing smile and pray for her more that day. She has a rainbow baby, but I don’t forget her little one who is with Jesus.

Another friend lost her baby at Christmastime a couple years ago, so I’ve checked in on her at Christmastime the last couple years about it. She has a rainbow baby, too, but I don’t forget her little one who is with Jesus.

After a while, some people don’t want to hear about the baby you lost unless they’ve lost one, too, and they understand. These don’t want to hear about that baby because they are uncomfortable and don’t know how to grieve their own losses. I pity them because they miss out on the beautiful growth pains of life. Lara doesn’t. She feels them with people. Be like Lara, friends.

“So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.”            2 Thessalonians 5:11

My Prayer for you:

My prayer for you is that when you see others going through what you’ve been through, you’ll step in and stand for them.

A Prayer you Could Pray:

Dear Lord, I don’t want to miss any opportunities to love people tangibly. Please open my eyes to see others in pain and give me creativity and courage to love them in their pain. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Things to Ponder, Journal, and Pray about:

  • Who has been your Lara in a hard time?
  • Who is someone who needs you to be a Lara in their life this week?
  • What do you need to talk to God about regarding being a Lara in someone else’s life this week? Fear that you’ll feel the pain again? Fear that you won’t be as much as a blessing as you want to be? Whatever it is, talk to God about it honestly. He’ll meet your needs as He’s meeting hers through you!