Angela Tollersons is a guest author and following is her article. If you would like to get in touch with Angela, you can do so at http://www.forfamilyhealth.net Thanks Angela for sharing your wisdom.
How to Help Loved Ones Who Have Lost Multiple-Birth Children
The loss of a child is one of the greatest human tragedies there is, and the pain is often amplified when it is the loss of a multiple-birth child or children. To an outsider, having any surviving children may seem like a comfort amidst tragedy; but in reality, it creates a new world of complicated, impossible devastation. When a loved one is suffering through this kind of pain, it’s difficult to know what to say or do. These are a few things to keep in mind when someone you love has lost one (or more) of their multiple-birth children.
Be mindful of your words of comfort. Even the most well-intentioned words can feel hurtful and insensitive in this situation, especially if you’ve never experienced it yourself. Avoid phrases like, “Time heals all wounds,” and, “Everything happens for a reason.” The fact is, the pain of losing a child will likely never completely subside and there is simply no “reasoning” that can mend the wound. Though your intention is to help, it can feel like you’re trivializing their loss. Acknowledging that it is an unfair, unimaginable situation is an honest and heartfelt alternative.
Consider making a donation to a charity in the lost child’s name in lieu of flowers. Although flowers are a beautiful sentiment, some parents may find them overwhelming. They can also be a painful reminder of what they’ve lost: something beautiful that dies too soon. A charitable donation honoring their child can be an equally beautiful and thoughtful show of support for your loved one.
Stay in touch, but don’t overwhelm. One of the most important ways you can show support for your loved one is to simply be available. Social media is helpful, but shouldn’t be your only route. If you aren’t physically close by, consider having family conference calls. It’s less-invasive than hopping on a plane and coming for a visit — which your loved one may or may not be ready for — but still demonstrates a show of support. Remember not to push too hard; it’s OK to postpone a call if they don’t feel up to it as long as you let them know that you’ll be there when they do feel ready.
Ask what they need, but anticipate that they may not have an answer. It can be difficult for parents to even think straight after the loss of a child, so the seemingly simple question of how you can help may be a struggle to answer. Offer to make a trip to the grocery store, pick up other children from school, or help with any special arrangements for the lost child. Even dropping off a sandwich platter or casserole can help reduce a bit of stress; stay for a quick bite if you’re sincerely invited, but don’t overwhelm by forcing a visit.
If there is a surviving multiple child, don’t make them your only focus. As the non-parent, it may seem like the best route is to focus on the positive and thus on the surviving child. However, your loved one may not be grieving only for their deceased child. They’ve also lost a unique experience of bringing home and raising more than one baby, of watching the relationship the surviving child could have had with their sibling(s). Again, not being sensitive to this could feel belittling of the loss. The last thing anyone wants is to forget the child as if they never existed, so don’t be too afraid to bring them up.
Talk to them about getting a service dog. It can be tough to watch your loved one suffer this kind of loss and feel impossible to not hover. A service dog not only provides constant, unconditional love, they can also be trained to recognize signs of a panic attack and intervene. It can be a wonderful way to provide comfort to your loved one without overwhelming them, and put your own mind at ease that they are receiving constant support.
Losing a multiple-birth child is an unbearable burden, and affects not only the parents and siblings, but also grandparents, extended family and close friends. By leaning on each other and helping one another through the loss, everyone can adjust to a new life.
Angela Tollersons has a passion for family health and wellness. She currently volunteers as often as possible in her community with parenting and child advocacy groups, especially those who focus on special education and anti-bullying. When she is not updating her blog, she is usually exploring the great outdoors or playing a game of Scrabble with her family.