Saturday, August 20, 2011


In a perfect world, there'd be no need for this ministry.  Within the reality of this broken world, the best scenario would be that every woman who experiences the loss of a baby or of the dream of being pregnant would be surrounded by people who are actually helpful and supportive.  Instead, most of the women we have met have at least one person in their lives who is more of a burden than a support. Most of the time these less-than-helpful people mean well, and want to help, but they just keep messing up.

While we wholeheartedly recommend seeing past the words and actions of well-meaning people, seeing instead their heart of love, there comes a time when it is important to put some boundaries in place. This is easiest to do with the people on the outside rings of relationship - those you only see once in awhile, with whom you have not invested much time or relational energy. However, the closer you get toward the center ring of relationship, the stickier boundaries become and the more pronounced the consequences may be.

For example, if you have a parent or in-law who is consistently draining your tank rather than filling it, perhaps by acting as though you should be supporting them rather than them supporting you, it's time for a boundary.  Let me be clear - I'm NOT advocating selfishness or overlooking the needs of others. It's not like a time of grief removes all responsibility for being a blessing to others.  But sometimes the most loving thing you can do is put a boundary in place that will actually preserve the relationship long-term, even if it seems to threaten the relationship in the short-term.

Boundaries can include limiting the duration or frequency of phone calls, emails, or visits, changing the topic to something neutral or more positive, and even not sharing with that person the things with which you are struggling.  If someone isn't supporting you during your season of grief, stop looking to that person for support!  This isn't the time to idealize a relationship, focusing on how it ought to be or could be or might be one day. Be honest with yourself, and look for the people God has placed in your life who will actually support you.  Of course nobody is perfect, and outside of God, everyone will let you down.  We'll forget an important date, not return a call or email as quickly as you'd hoped, say something insensitive, or talk too much about our own situation instead of giving you space to process.  But hopefully you'll see which people are chronic offenders and which ones are simply human.

Many women have commented that they felt they needed to be strong for those around them during loss.  While there is a place for being strong, be careful! It just might give people the impression that you are doing better than you actually are. How can they help you if they don't know what you need? Honesty and vulnerability can be scary things, but without them you are almost certain to be disappointed and let down. Those who truly love you will give you the space you request and will respect the boundaries you put in place. They may kick and scream before they accept the boundaries, but they'll come around. And I bet you'll discover that the relationship will then be stronger and healthier than ever before.

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