Ways to support parents going through bereavement
October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, Anya Mueller sat down with a local woman who knows this pain all too well, and has made it her mission to support others going through similar experiences.
RAPID CITY, S.D. — Brianne Edwards (along with her husband- David) founded Lach’s Legacy after their 10 and-a-half month old ‘Lachlan’ died of SIDS.
The loss of a child is life-changing and grief can affect everyone differently; not only emotional but physical pain as well.
Brianne says that bereaved parents need to remember to take care of themselves.
“That was one of the things I was most surprised about in my grief, how physical the experience was,” said Brianne Edwards, the Founder of Lach’s Legacy. “My body ached constantly, headaches, just exhaustion that is hard to describe and so taking the time to give yourself room to grieve, give yourself space to recover, let your body rest, feed your body with something that nourishes it, those are just as important as the grief process as the emotional processing.”
Brianne says that it’s important to reach out to a bereaved parent.
“It is easy to talk ourselves out of showing up,” Edwards said. “We can think ‘there is nothing I can do anyway, I don’t know what to say, they have got other people that are there’, and so we talk ourselves out of being there, whereas the griever, to have people that are willing to accompany you in that, is huge in the healing process.”
Just being there and simply listening can help a wounded heart.
“But just sitting with them and asking them about what they are struggling with right now, asking them what they are missing right now, ask them to tell you a story about their child, ask them what kind of things they are finding are helpful,” Edwards said.
“I just think that being aware that the grieving goes on beyond what you would imagine and that if they are visibly grieving, to just provide a hug or a ‘lets go to coffee,’ not necessarily to provide counseling and sometimes there is not a right thing to say,” said Sheryl J. Jackson, CNP of the Community Health Center of Black Hills.
Edwards says it’s also shows support to parents by remembering the child’s birthday or anniversary of their death and extending a thoughtful message or phone call on holidays.
Other ways to show support are physical care acts, like doing their laundry, cooking meals, house cleaning, mowing their lawn, or giving gift cards- she says just show up and do it.
And lastly memorializing the child – with plaques or bench in their name or planting a tree in their memory.
“Having some permanence, something physical and tangible to remember their spot is always meaningful,” Edwards said.
Support groups are also helpful in times of need to connect with others who have experienced the same grievances.