I write this as a room full of nursery-aged children jump and dance to The Wiggles. The reason is that for Family Home Evening tonight, a group of our friends has gathered at the home of another friend whose mother died in an accident this weekend. While the family is away at the funeral, our group is cleaning the house and taking care of any other needs there. Iâ€™m in charge of the child care at our house so that the parents can go clean without the kids making a mess behind them.
When my wife and I first heard the sad news, our first reaction was to try to find something we could do to help. We made a casserole, but it seemed like there should be something else we could do. Kristen called a friend who had also gone through the pain of losing a parent suddenly, and the friend told her there wasnâ€™t anything specific that could be done, just offer support.
Thinking about this reminded me of another sad time in one of our friendsâ€™ lives. This friend lost her baby very late in her pregnancy. We heard the news as she was in labor in the hospital to deliver the baby stillborn. We felt helpless as our hearts cried out for her.
Kristen had another friend who had delivered a stillborn child recently, and recalled that she had told her the most comforting gift that was given to her was a lace receiving blanket that she could wrap her childâ€™s body in. They had blessed the child, and it was a comfort to have something beautiful to use in performing that ordinance, and for the baby to have something that was her own and belonged to her in this world.
We searched through our baby blankets and found a pretty white lace blanket that would be suitable for a baby blessing. Kristen drove it to the hospital and dropped it off. When she got back home, we spent some time struggling with our own feelings and emotions.
Later, we learned that the blanket had been exactly the right thing to send. Hospitals are not necessarily designed to be places of great comfort. The blanket served as a reminder that the baby, though stillborn, was coming into a family, and deserved to be greeted with some token of welcoming The mother had something to remind her how beautiful her child was. The blanket allowed the baby to be presented as reverently as any other as the father gave her a name and a blessing.
I learned something about service that night. One of the blessings that can come from our own adversity can be an increased ability to help others in their hour of need. Kristen likely would not have thought to act as she did had she not had a conversation with her other friend about her experience.
I share this story as I think about my friendâ€™s loss of his mother in the hope that I can rid myself of some of the feelings of helplessness I feel by passing on knowledge that I hope might help someone else through one of you. If others have stories they would like to share that may help the rest of us serve those of our brothers and sisters who mourn or struggle, I invite you to share them here. I recognize that such stories may be difficult to share, however. If anonymity helps, that option is available here.