A lot of people have told me that they just don't know what to say to me or my husband. And that's ok, I understand that. It's a sucky situation that people don't often have to face (although miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal death are more common than you'd think - see my post on that here). I thought about writing a list of things that would be helpful to say, but that's going to take a while to get all my thoughts down in a way that would be helpful. It's so much easier to think of things that we have been told that were no help at all.
So without further ado, here are my top three things NOT to say to bereaved parents (in my opinion).
1. Nothing. Don't stay silent, even if you don't know what to say. If you really are stuck for words, say "I don't know what to say". Even something as simple as 'liking' a post or photo on Facebook lets me know that you have seen or thought about my precious daughter.
2. Everything happens for a reason. We were told this two days after Ariella's birth, which means it was only four days after we knew she had died. It did NOT help. I believe God can and does cause all things to work for the good of those who love Him, which means He can bring good out of my daughter's death. However, I do not believe that any resulting good is the reason Ariella died. This may or may not be theologically correct (although I think it is). Some parents may like to think their child died for a reason, and that is more than ok. I believe good will come from my child's death, but that doesn't mean I want to hear that it happened for a reason. If you have to say it, please don't say it within the first few weeks.
3. Do not tell a parent who lost their firstborn that it was a practice run. Oh yes, I was told that "although it's hard to think of it that way, treat it as a practice". I wasn't hurt as much as I was offended. Ariella was not a practice run, she was a child. My 39 weeks of pregnancy weren't a pretend time to prepare me for a "proper" pregnancy later (trust me, the morning sickness was real, just ask my ever-patient and caring hubby!). Her birth wasn't some form of training for a "real" birth - I experienced labour and birth just as much as a mother whose child lives. Thankfully I've only heard this once, and it doesn't seem common. But please, do not say anything to parents that will imply their child did not count. Because every child counts.
So there you have it ladies and gentlemen, my top three things that I do not want to hear. I'm sure there are plenty more that other parents could add. And sometime soon I'll let you know what is helpful to hear.