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Question
Posted by: Shargal | 2010/03/10

death of a 10 week old.

A neighbour and now a friend has just lost her baby boy,Our boys were born 7 days apart,we got very close because of them.

I can''t comfort her,because I AM crying myself,i feel guilty as if its my fault,i am getting PARANOID and scared for my little one.

How DO I COMFORT HER?

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

First see a counsellor to deal with your own perhaps excessive grief and guilt, or you won't be able to help her.
All loss is awful, at each age a different kind of awful. Purple is experienced in such matters, and her advice is sound.
I find people often err when a friend is grieving, by getting hung up on not knowing what to say, as though there were somem magical words you should uter to make it feel OK - there are no such words, but being available to listen to whatever they need to say, or to share a silence, is more useful than most words.
I very srongly agree about avoiding the terribly cruel, often religiously-based comments that cheekily tell the grieving that we should rejoice, and so on. If they are religiously minded, in time, such consolationsm may have their place, but in the early stages they are simply cruel and fatuous.
The Compassionate Friends is an organization of people who have los a child, at any age. I knew the chaplain who started this ; and they may have a locl or reachable branch, which may be helpful for her.
Maybe some of the guilt you feel is a variety some of us experience, a form of Surivor Guilt - guilt at feeling relieved that you are no in her situaion, and that your child survived. Forgive yourself for being normal.
I also like the point about the Possible Later value of a visit with our own child. This might be bothersome to her as a reminder of what she has lost, but I have found a common component in the complex grief in the loss of a very young child, is that beause the child was with you so briefly, you are mourning both a reality and a theory - the child he/she would have been, and another child can help to make this more real, and offer assistance in coming to terms with the loss.

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Our users say:
Posted by: Purple | 2010/03/10

Sorry, forgot to say that I think that some paranoia about your own baby''s safety is quite normal. When my son was little, right up till he was about 2, I couldn''t listen to the news or read anything about a baby or child that had been injured, hurt, abused or died. I felt physically sick from it and on many occassions nearly vomited. I''d then redouble all my safety efforts and reading up on cot death. Friends have told me they did similar, so I think that is just a part of our normal protective instinct. Because this baby was so close to you, you are probably just feeling it so much more. I''m sure it will pass, but if not, maybe get some counselling to help you cope.

Reply to Purple
Posted by: Purple | 2010/03/10

How absoloutely awful. I don''t know if there is anything worse than losing a baby.

Not much that you say is actually going to make her feel better, but if you don''t say something you will regret it and she might misinterpret your silence.
Something along the lines of how sorry you are about her loss is probably best.
I''d take along a meal she can heat up later too.

What can be very hurtful is when people say that it was God''s will or that he takes bhe best first, or we don''t know what His purpose was etc. This is always well meant but is extremely hurtful to hear. The person is trying to grieve, in the early weeks after losing a baby, you don''t want to be told to look on the bright side. Much later on they will find this reassuring if they are religious, but they will find it downright mean while they are in the early stages of grief. No matter how religous they are, they might also be pretty angry wth God right then too.

Give her a slip of paper wtih contact details for the Compassionate Friends.

At work I had to phone someone who lost her young baby, and I phoned Life Line for some advice on talking to her. They were extremely helpful to me and in turn, I was able to show compassion to this employee.

Don''t assume she wants no reminder of her baby, she might enjoy smelling his baby clothes and looking at photos of him - let her decide what she wants to do with them.

I wouldn''t take my baby with for a first visit, but would do so on subsequent visits. She might get to a point where she enjoys seeing how big her baby would have been and what he would have been doing, but that won''t be now.
It isn''t your fault - how could it possibly have been?

Reply to Purple
Posted by: cybershrink | 2010/03/10

First see a counsellor to deal with your own perhaps excessive grief and guilt, or you won't be able to help her.
All loss is awful, at each age a different kind of awful. Purple is experienced in such matters, and her advice is sound.
I find people often err when a friend is grieving, by getting hung up on not knowing what to say, as though there were somem magical words you should uter to make it feel OK - there are no such words, but being available to listen to whatever they need to say, or to share a silence, is more useful than most words.
I very srongly agree about avoiding the terribly cruel, often religiously-based comments that cheekily tell the grieving that we should rejoice, and so on. If they are religiously minded, in time, such consolationsm may have their place, but in the early stages they are simply cruel and fatuous.
The Compassionate Friends is an organization of people who have los a child, at any age. I knew the chaplain who started this ; and they may have a locl or reachable branch, which may be helpful for her.
Maybe some of the guilt you feel is a variety some of us experience, a form of Surivor Guilt - guilt at feeling relieved that you are no in her situaion, and that your child survived. Forgive yourself for being normal.
I also like the point about the Possible Later value of a visit with our own child. This might be bothersome to her as a reminder of what she has lost, but I have found a common component in the complex grief in the loss of a very young child, is that beause the child was with you so briefly, you are mourning both a reality and a theory - the child he/she would have been, and another child can help to make this more real, and offer assistance in coming to terms with the loss.

Reply to cybershrink

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