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We understand how helpless you may be feeling.  A sweet little member of you or your family is gone, and there is no way to fix or change what has happened.  While each situation is unique and each baby is special, there is no right or wrong way to support a family through this type of loss.  However, we offer the following suggestions to help you feel empowered to help your family through the days, weeks and months that will follow in their healing journey.

At the hospital - Just being present is sometimes the most (and best thing) you can do.  You can be there to hug mom and dad, make sure they know your presence is there without you having to say a word, and that their baby is very loved by everyone in the room.  You can also ensure that everything baby touched is saved for parents to have as keepsakes after they leave the hospital. Being there to document their baby's short life, through and photos and video that you can take, will be moments they may forget or not have even known took place.  However, also knowing when to step out of the room to give mom and dad some much needed quiet time without feeling “on display” is also very important.  Whether this time is spent with the baby or by themselves, alone time is helpful and very essential.  

 

Listen without judgment - Parents need to feel they can speak freely of their precious baby without being judged on their thoughts, feelings or of the gestational age of their baby. A parent’s love for their baby cannot be measured by how far along in their pregnancy they were.  Try to avoid giving advice or saying anything that minimizes their loss. The stronger the attachment with their baby, the deeper the pain will be felt and expressed. Know that these emotions are very normal for parents to experience. Acknowledge their feelings, listen and provide a trusting and caring environment for this to happen. Allow for moments of silence.  Friends who are good listeners provide an environment for healing to progress.

 

Say their baby’s name - Parents need to hear their baby’s name spoken by others, especially their loved ones. The acknowledgement that their baby existed, not just died, is vital to their healing and using their baby’s name is like music to their ears. It is healing to hear their baby’s name spoken by others, whether family, friends or strangers.

 

Make reasonable offers for daily support - Offer to make the phone calls, send the texts/emails letting important people such as close friends, employers, etc about their loss so that they do not have to make that phone call or be taken aback by anyone asking them about their baby or pregnancy.  Things you may want to offer to help with include house cleaning, home cooked meals or organize a meal train, or provide childcare for their other children so they can have a break.

It can be a helpless and powerless feeling when someone you love loses their baby. Grieving parents find comfort in knowing that others are thinking of them, are there for them and that their baby is loved and missed by you too. A simple “I’m so sorry.  Just know that I care and am here if you ever need” is so comforting when they are feeling really alone.  Many parents find it very difficult to call or ask for help during their grieving.  Just getting out of bed, let alone picking up a phone, may be a huge task in itself, especially in the first few months after loss.

What NOT to say - Remember, mom and dad loved and wanted this baby.  Please avoid these commonly misused phrases of comfort/clichés when talking to mom and dad:

  • “Everything happens for a reason” (that is for the family to determine in time, not you)

  • “You will have another baby” (You don't know that and a new baby doesn't remove the grief of losing another)

  • “I know what you are going through: (unless you have experienced a similar loss - even still you didn't lose their baby)

  • “ I guess its God’s way of taking care of those with problems” (You are not God, so that is not for you to determine and the statement is far from comforting)

  • “You would rather of lost your baby than look after a child with a disability” (a mother loves her child no matter what...a child with a disability on earth is still a blessing)

  • “Sometimes these things happen for the best”

  • “It wasn’t meant to be”

  • “You’re young, you’ll get over it” (There is no getting over baby loss - just through and it is a life-long journey)

  • “This was probably a blessing in disguise” (This is a complete invalidation of a mother's grief)

  • “Now you have an angel in heaven” (Maybe so, but let the family decide that)

  • “It was God’s will” (You are not God, so that is not for you to determine and the statement is far from comforting)

  • “At least you have other children” (Yes, but there is still a very important child missing - an incomplete family)

  • “You can try again” (Sure, but many families need time to grieve and trying again doesn't always result in a happy outcome)

Instead, try this - There is no fixing what has happened. Keep sympathies simple, but genuine, such as:

  • "I am so sorry for your loss of your baby."

  • "I just don’t know what to say or do but know that I care about you and am thinking of you”

  • "It just breaks my heart to hear you lost your baby. How can I help you through this?”

  • “How are you really feeling today?”

  • “When you are ready, I would like to hear more about your baby (use their name when you can!)”.

 

Remember! - Grief is a journey and unique to each person and family. Allow kindness and space as they move through the fog of grief. Consider attending one of our community events in support of them connecting with other loss families.