Monday, January 31, 2011

For someone who has suffered a loss

I got a call the other night from my mom. She knows someone that is friends with someone who just found out her 1 year old has a genetic disease and most likely won’t live to see his second birthday.

My moms friend asked what she should do. how she can help. she can see her friend’s pain and wants to do something.

When I have heard about other children losing their life I just feel sick. This nauseous, shaky, hot feeling. Because I know. I know what that next morning will be. I know what that next month- year will be. I have thought to myself that I should know what to say or do for someone because I have been through it. In the moment I just don’t know what to do. Because you want to fix it. You want to say something to make them feel better. But. That is a time- that no matter what- nothing can make it better.

I started really thinking about what helped us. What made a difference in our life? Ryan and I have been very fortunate to live so close to an amazing children’s hospital, to have family close by, to have friends surrounding us and to have 2 employers who were more than understanding. But even with all of that in our favor. Our life had still stopped. We didn’t think about anything outside of that hospital room. Our worst nightmares were being lived right before our eyes and they were happening at a rapid speed.

I gave my mom a few suggestions and went home to write this list. I have seen similar ones on other blogs and they all are so perfect. For some reason BECAUSE I WAS LOOKING I’m sure, I couldn’t find any. At least from my blog friends that I looked at. So I decided to compile a list of what helped me and suggestions for you to help someone who is going through a loss… No matter what kind. A loss is a loss and there is nothing easy about it.


Don’t ignore the big elephant in the room

Even though I have now been through this rough road I still don’t know how to talk to someone who has just suffered a loss. I’m sorry… I’m thinking of you… I’m here… All just seem like words and I just wish I could say something more. BUT. Just because you don’t know what to say- don’t NOT say anything. Acknowledge their loss. Hug them. Cry with them. Tell them you love them. Tell them how that person affected your life. Depending on the time frame (because it’s ever changing with time) in the beginning I don’t recommend trying to relate. I know that’s hard to do. We have all suffered a loss but in the beginning stages I didn’t find it helpful to know so–in-so lost their grandmother or a friend. Not that those people don’t matter and that your pain is any less than mine- but just for those moments focus on them and their loss. The person who they are missing. No matter the time frame know they are always thinking of the person who is no longer here. Especially a child. Over time make sure you let them know you still remember them, you talk to them or pray for them. Maybe that you do something in their memory. I can only imagine in 20 years ill still think of Makenzie every second. I’ll miss her just as much. Ill ache for her every day. She is my daughter. She was here and she was so real. And now she is gone. I hope that for the rest of my life she will still be talked about. She will still be thought of. I know I’ll never stop talking about her- For every birthday, milestone or accomplishment someone close to me does ill think of her and the fact that she won’t be here and I’ll never get to see her do that.

Just DO:

Stop asking… Just DO. Usually there are so many people who say they will be there if you need anything and ask to help in some kind of way but if your anything like me, you don’t want to “bother” others. You know they have a life as well and you don’t feel right calling them up at 1am just to cry. I know if I called any of my family and friends they would be there- it wasn’t that I didn’t know that- it was just because I felt I should handle this more on my own than bring everyone else down with me. The best support was pretty much pushed on me :) I didn’t ask. They just did.

*A dinner schedule was put together while we were in the hospital so we had someone bringing us dinner every night.
* We were given a small Christmas tree and decorations to make it more “Christmas-y” for our Christmas with Kenzie.
*After we were out of the hospital and home, my sister came every morning for 2 weeks straight and got me out of bed. She didn’t make me go do something but she did make me get up long enough to open the door for her. She would bring little goodies or ask me to come run errands with her.
*I had people plan activities, a double date, shopping, hikes and even trips. They would tell me when and where.




How to help from afar:

I don’t mean only if you live in another state but I also mean if you don’t know what to say and you don’t feel too comfortable coming around- or you want to help but don’t know what to do, here are some ideas that I loved.

- Send them a pizza. Bring them a goody bag. Bring them breakfast, lunch or dinner. Bring them a Dr. Pepper! These are little things that seriously mean a lot. You have no idea how much we appreciated all the goodies Ryan and I got in the hospital. We had a locker to keep all of our stuff in and we had to get another just for the treats people brought. We loved them! It helped so we didn’t have to keep running to buy something, it helped so we didn’t have to leave Makenzie’s side more than we had to. It helped to keep our visitors happy.
- This might be more of a personal thing for me but I loved when Kenzie was sent balloons. They made the room more cheery and brought so much happiness to her. Send balloons! I can’t think of anyone that wouldn’t smile with a balloon.
- Have your little one or even you color a picture.
- I received some amazing gifts from so many people. Everything meant so much, nothing was overlooked and we treasure them so much.  Some of the most special items we received were so MAKENZIE personalized. A necklace with her name on it, a bracelet with her initials, ryan got a key chain, a charm with her picture in it, pictures of her... You don't have to spend much. Do something small.
- Even though you shouldn’t worry about them returning your calls, texts or emails DON’T stop doing it. It was always a boost for me to read a sweet text or email form someone even if they just wanted to tell me they are thinking of us. AND don’t be offended if they don’t respond to you. It’s not that they don’t appreciate your message. Go with the flow for that person. If you think your friend likes to talk on the phone and they are okay with that- call everyday- even just to say hi. To check in on them. If they don’t like to talk but text do that instead. I know when I was in the hospital I didn’t want to do either. I appreciated every phone call and text I got but I wanted to just be with Makenzie more than anything. I know there were some hurt feelings by me not returning phone calls, email or text messages but it wasn’t because I didn’t care.

Long Term:

I am only a year/13.5 months into this. I’m not far. At this stage I may have more better days but I also have lots of bad/egh/blah ones. I have many moments through every day where I just miss. I love to talk about her. I think I have those better days when I get to talk about her. I get to tell stories of her. I get to share her. I have so much to share. Even if it’s the same story over and over. I want to tell it over and over. I would ask your friend to talk about their loved one. Tell you stories. Tell you anything. Or just sit around, look at pictures and talk about whatever comes up. Do that always. There is never an ending to that.

Remember:

This kind of ties into the long term one but I know everyone that has lost someone wants nothing more than for them to be remembered. They don’t want this person whom they love so much to ever be forgotten. They can’t continue writing their story and none of us want it to end. Remember dates! Some people think it’s better to not put much into a date but others want to do a lot for that date. Either way I think anyone would appreciate a simple- I remember and I’m thinking of you.



For anyone that has lost someone they need love. They need people around. There are times they need a moment alone but I don’t think you should leave them alone for long. They don’t know what to ask for. They don’t know what they need or want. Being on the outside you can be a light to help guide someone. Don’t be afraid. Don’t think of them differently. Don’t walk on egg shells.

Everyone is different so maybe these things won’t help the person you’re trying to help- and if they don’t- try something else. Do something else.
Everything matters.

12 comments :

Presley & Charlotte Gleason said...

WOW, This is such a great Post. Thank you so much for taking the time to write and share this. Living with the thought of "not knowing how long your child has", and also knowing so many others around you whos children are taken much too soon, this is sooooo important! You wrote it so perfect, thank you for sharing! I may borrow it someday from you if you dont mind? Thinking of you guys!

The Mac's House said...

Kendra,

Thanks this helped so much!

Much love to you!
Nana Teri

debbie said...

Thanks, Kendra. You are the best. Love you!

Jake and Leslie Garbanati Family said...

From a mom who has lost a little one, I can say you stated this PERFECTLY! You have put into words what I have tried to say to so many people.....you are amazing and have touched my life in ways you will never understand. Thanks for being a strength for me...from a far!

Anonymous said...

Very wise words of advice from someone who has been down THAT road. Everyone is different and everyone grieves and heals in a different way, BUT....we all need those same basic things: love, caring, a smile, a thought, a memory, a small token and just to show they care. I once told my BFF Crissy that I thought I was going crazy (oh, now don't agree with her too fast on that one!!) and she said "you aren't going to go crazy cuz you have me - I'll keep you sane!!" It meant so much to me that she cared that much. The days get better but it is the small moments that seem to be difficult sometimes. You are a wonderful young woman and you have made a difference in so many people's lives. Your sweet Kenzie is still Kenzie - she will live in your heart and our hearts forever. Love you and Ryan very much. Aunt Mary

Emma said...

Thank you for writing this, I know it will help so many people to know how to help others. I think we all too often use the "I'm here if you need me, just call" and although done with good intentions just isnt' good enough-we need to think of what the individuals need before they do. In those tough days I can imagine you weren't even thinking of eating, cleaning up your house etc-all your energy was focused where it was needed, on your sweet baby girl and I am so glad you had others help you out so much, what a blessing. Thanks for helping "us" to know how we can help others when they are hurting, you are, once again, blessing others through your blog. Love and hugs,Em

Kristen said...

Well said Kendra! I couldn't agree with you more.

Helen said...

This is awesome. I'm so glad you put it together. Too often I'm at a loss of what to do. I send a lot of cards. That's my thing, but sometimes I want to do something different. Thank you for your list. May your day today be greatly blessed!

Darren and Jody said...

Kendra,

I often think of you and hope that you have peace. I remember when I met your cute little family. I remember going into Mckenzie's Room and seeing how beautiful she is. I remember introducing you and Ryan to Karson. I was amazed at the strength you had to do what was best for Mckenzie infact It was on my anniversary DEC. 13th. I will always thnk of her that day. Unfortunately we had to make that decision with Karson we took his bi-pap off because he was suffering. You set a good example for others like me. I pray that you will feel Heavenly Fathers love for you.

Love Jody

Victoria Strong said...

Wow Kendra, This is an incredible post! Thank you for writing this!

Malory said...

Awe Kendra you are so amazing. You help so many people. I miss ya lady!

Unknown said...

hi! i'm a nurse at PCMC and i just wanted to say how adorable and thoughtful your legging project is. We have quite a few babies up here with your leggings on. it brightens the room, adds cheer. it's also practical, we can still assess our little babies and it helps to keep them warm. THANK YOU!
i'm sorry you've been through so much. thank you for being brave enough to put your story out there.

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