There are so many things that were helpful after Mackenzie died. I know a lot of people don’t know what to do or say, so I’ve decided to write down a few things that were really helpful for us.
Businesses/Organisations doing amazing things
- Heartfelt https://www.heartfelt.org.au/ . This amazing organisation came to take photos of us with Mackenzie soon after her death. They are such treasured photos for us as we wouldn’t have thought to take any photos at the time.
- Huggable Hearts https://www.huggablehearts.co.nz/ . The wonderful people at Huggable Hearts make heart shaped pillows to the weight of your baby when they were lost. They do this at no charge to grieving parents. It gives parents and family something to hold, while they experience the ache of empty arms.
- Keeps https://www.keeps.co.nz/ . This is’t necessarily specifically for baby loss, but we had a keepsake box personalised for Mackenzie, and now it holds things of hers. Her hat, a lock of her hair, her wee hands and feet, and photos. Over the years, artwork and cards from Hazel have been added to the box also. It was really helpful to have a place to collect the items together.
- I had two jewellery items organised through the funeral home – a fingerprint necklace, and a ring that contains some of Mackenzie’s ashes. The fingerprint necklace was from Memory Treasure https://au.memorytreasures.com/collections/memorial-jewellery-fingerprints and the ring was made by Keepsakes with Love https://www.keepsakeswithlove.co.nz/
- We also had castings of her hands and feet done after she had died, by Momentoes https://momentoes.com/ These are proudly displayed on our wall.
- The following website has some great things to read through – https://www.skylight.org.nz/resources/death-and-dying/death-of-a-child
- If you are on Facebook, Dad Minus One is amazing for sharing his own grief journey after the loss of his son. Reading through his thoughts helped me feel less alone.
Some really helpful things that people did for us
- They showed up, even when we were in our own world with grief.
- They checked in, even when I was terrible at maintaining a conversation.
- They sat with my grief, beside me.
- They took Hazel to the park to give me some time.
- They recognised Mackenzie’s birthday and Anniversary of her death. Often without any pressure at all. Dropping care packages in my letterbox, or a message without needing a response.
- They continued to speak her name.
A lot of people don’t know what to say. There isn’t the right thing to say. Even if you say ‘I don’t know what to say’ and offer a hug, it’s better than ignoring it. No parent ever gets over the loss of a child. You can’t hurt them more by bringing their child up. They are already thinking about them all the time. By bringing their child up, you are letting them know that you’re there, remembering their child with them.
There is, however a few things I wouldn’t recommend saying to a bereaved parent…
- “They’re in a better place now” . I can’t speak for all grieving parents, but that felt like a kick to my guts, saying that there could be a better place for my child than with her mother.
- “Everything happens for a reason” . Again, I can’t speak for everyone, but I really can’t figure out a world in which losing my child would be for a “reason”.
- “At least…” At least you can have another. At least you have another child. At least you know you can get pregnant. Anything starting with ‘At least’ isn’t a good idea.
I’m surrounded by some really amazing people and I haven’t had any off-the-mark comments from anyone close to me. It will be 5 years since Mackenzie died this year, but I still think of her every day – and I’m glad I do. I see my depth of grief as a reflection of my depth of love. I don’t want to have a day where I don’t think about her. She will always be in my heart and my thoughts.