Our beautiful Frodo dog was hit and killed on our dark country road around midnight not too long ago. He was hanging outside with my husband and a friend enjoying a late night campfire while the kids and I slept. Frodo heard a noise, and decided to chase it. Unusual for him, but not for dogs, it’s what dogs do, especially his breed. We wept. All of us, just wept for his wonderful soul.
As we trudged through the days and had to tell others what happened, most people mourned with us, and cried for us. He was a loved dog. And then the well-meaning folks had their say. “I’ll tell you what I think really happened,” said a neighbor. “He’s confused, he hasn’t left you,” texted a friend from another state who uses crystals and rocks to guide her journey. “I wonder how he got out?” insinuated someone on Facebook. Such well-meaning folks.
Frodo’s death stirred up the grief from my miscarriage ten years ago. Watching my three school-aged children digest the reality, and process the news, made me so sad and angry. With my miscarriage, I could turn in on myself. I could blame myself. I could be angry that my body failed, that biology overcame my desire for this baby. And then I remembered what the well-meaning folks said about my baby’s death, “It was for the better,” and “Aren’t you over it?”
We don't share our deepest thoughts for fear of being judged. When trauma occurs, in any form, we're left having those closest to us carry our load, while they are in the midst of their own grief. How overwhelming is it to find your “friends” are trolls? That the person you need a hug from makes their story more important than your grief?
The words that moved my trauma and grief to a place of quiet stillness were, “You need to love on your family right now. Let your heart just process the news.”
Oh, those words spoken from a friend who loved Frodo as much as we did, quenched my soul. Gentle words and acts quieted my head that was so busy trying to make sense of his early departure.
When I became a Stillbirthday Bereavement Doula, it came from a place of wanting to protect a loved one who was walking her own journey through the death of her baby. I wanted to protect her from the well-meaning, yet hurtful words that I knew would come her way. I wanted to be at her baby’s birth to hold her and say, “it’s not ok, but I’m with you. I can carry this sadness with you.”
Grief stirs so many emotions in us: sadness, anger, resentment, guilt. Such powerful emotions can overwhelm an already numb and weak heart. What I have learned from my grief trainings is that tender, honest, thoughtful words heal. They make way for the sadness, anger and guilt to pass through us. Supporting, not judging a woman, or her grief process, works. Providing partner time and space to address their sorrow, and formulate a plan for mourning this life, helps. Having resources for families to begin their journey without their beloved baby is what I do. I stand at the door and provide kind words the well-meaning folks, who are sad too, but just don’t know what to say. By being a doula at this baby’s birth, and death, I can do my best to let this family’s heart begin to process the news.
Reach out to me at Jennifer@encouragedoulacare.com