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Thu, April 25

Dear Annie: Compassion best thing to offer after the loss of a child

Dear Readers: I received a great deal of helpful feedback for “Heartbroken on Valentine’s Day.” Thank you to everyone who wrote in.

Dear Annie: I also had a son who died on Valentine’s Day. His name was Robert, and he was 11½ years old when he passed away 28 years ago. He will always be a part of our lives. My heart goes out to all the families that had a child die on this day. The reminder is there right after Christmas. I just want to say that the word “lost” is not in my vocabulary when I speak of my son. I know he is in heaven.

There is a support group for parents whose children died at any age. It’s called The Compassionate Friends.

I thank you for your column. I read it every day. — Mother

Dear Annie: It would probably help that mother and her family if they would contact The Compassionate Friends. It is an international support group of parents who lost children. The meetings and the newsletter have greatly helped my husband and me cope with the deaths of our two sons. That family can check out TCF’s website, at https://www.compassionatefriends.org. — Mother

Dear Mothers: I am so very sorry for your losses. A number of readers suggested The Compassionate Friends. I’m printing both of your letters in hopes that they help others in a similar situation to yours.

Dear Annie: “Heartbroken on Valentine’s Day,” whose baby girl was stillborn on Valentine’s Day, asked whether there was anything else she and her husband could do to get past it. May I suggest that she and her husband decide on doing something positive on Valentine’s Day in her honor? It should be something that they feel connects to her spirit, whether it be a charity or a special cause, even something as simple as lighting a candle. It could involve their time, a good deed or a yearly donation, no matter how small. The thought that “this one is for Valentine” when doing something helpful for others might help them, too. -- E. Cristina

Dear E. Cristina: What a lovely suggestion. Thank you.

Dear Annie: I am a retired obstetrician-gynecologist. Over the years, I have counseled many women who have lost pregnancies through miscarriage or stillbirth.

One of the big problems these potential parents have is that their friends and relatives avoid them. Not because they don’t care but because they are unsure of themselves and don’t know what to say. Even worse, some people attempting to say something that is reassuring make the situation worse by saying the wrong thing. A simple “I’m sorry to hear about your loss” is often the best thing to say. “You can always have another” and “He or she is in a better place” are not helpful.

The book “How to Survive the Loss of a Love” is a great resource that has been around for many years. It is helpful not only for pregnancy loss but for the loss of a spouse, a parent or a sibling. I highly recommend it.

Also, I’d like to say that there is a special place in heaven for labor and delivery nurses. You won’t find any more compassionate, caring people than labor and delivery nurses. Anyone can share in the joy of a pregnancy when everything turns out right. It takes a special person to be able to comfort a grieving mother. — Donald J. Pansch, M.D.

Dear Dr. Pansch: Thank you for your very thoughtful letter.

“Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice from Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com.

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