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Perinatal loss is a family event...

The loss of this individual affects not just the parent, but siblings, cousins, aunts/uncles, grandparents and other loved ones. How each of them grieve can have an impact on the overall family’s mourning and choices in parenting (bonding, memory making, photography) and how we initially accept and integrate this experience into our lives Below is an overview of the affects this has on the family and how you can help:

  • Understand their need for privacy - For many families the loss of a pregnancy/baby is the first major life event involving grief or the loss of a loved one. There is no rule book on how to grieve and it is not uncommon for parents grieving the same baby to be on two separate paths in healing. The first few weeks after the loss are a very delicate time involving physical and emotional healing in the postpartum period.

  • Check in with parents without expectation of a response - The easiest way to show you care and are there to help is to send a text, email or card that simply says...I"You don't need to respond, but I wanted you to know that I'm thinking of you and insert baby's name and am here to help...even if it is just listening. I'll check in on you again soon so you know you're not alone." This allows the parents the grace in not being pressured to respond, provides them your love and support and lets them know that even if you don't hear back from them, you are always thinking about them and they can expect you to check back in. This feels like a huge hug as the weeks go on and it feels like the world is spinning  even though theirs feels like it has stopped.

  • Do not let them throw away any of the baby's items or pregnancy momentos - For parents returning home after loss they may not want to see or keep anything related to their pregnancy or the baby. This is normal. Explain to them that while they may feel that way in the current moment, they may not feel this way in the weeks, months or years to come. Offer to hold on to these items for them in the mean time. This way, they don't have the items around, but know they are in safe hands for when they get curious about these items (and they do!)

  • Offer tangible/specific help - A common phrase from those feeling helpless in supporting loss is to tell them that you are here for "anything they need" or to "let them know how they can help". But the truth is, grieving parents don't know what they need, let alone have the energy to ask for it without feeling like a burden. Offering specific support is a lot less overwhelming than finding ways for people to support them. For example, offer to deliver dinner on Tuesday for a porch drop off (no pressure for face-to-face interaction) at 5 PM. If Tuesday doesn't work for them, offer to drop off at another convenient time. Another offering could be to take their older children to the park for a few hours so they have some quite time to themselves. You could send "thinking of you" card with a personalized gift, a gift certificate for a massage or for some self-care, or send a gift card to a local restaurant. 

  • Recommend to attend a support group with them - For a lot of families the thought of attending a virtual or in-person support group or event can be overwhelming. Offer to attend as a "wing man". Most virtual support groups do not require participants be on camera and in person groups usually allow for a loved one or friend to attend (because you are grieving too!). Have a plan for something enjoyable to look forward to after such as getting ice cream, getting a drink or dinner after or even going shopping. This will give you a pleasurable activity to do to decompress after and have something to look forward to.

  • Offer to handle certain "chores" for them - If the family wishes to return gifts to the store or to the gift giver, offer to do it for them or to make notifications/write thank yous. Additionally, if you know the parents have an upcoming baby shower, children's birthday party or holiday coming up, offer to do the shopping for them. There is nothing more defeating than to have to shop for others babies when you are grieving your own. Tell the parents to set a budget and handle the purchase and delivery of the gift for them. This is a HUGE help in the first two years of loss.

  • Send cards to the family during holidays and milestone dates - For perinatal loss families, one of our collective biggest fears is that our baby will be forgotten as the years go on. Especially as our extended families continue to grow and we witness traditions continue with out them. A simple card acknowledging these milestones, or including the baby's name in annual holiday cards are easy ways you can continue to support families consistently.

  • Make a donation in their memory - Financial or in-kind donations are accepted in memory of babies to support families at hospitals, advocacy organizations or memorial walks mean the world to the parents as it offers for public acknowledgement and validation of their grief and raises awareness that shatters the stigma associated with miscarriage, stillbirth and infant loss.

  • Offer a sense of normalcy as time goes on - The second biggest loss when experiencing pregnancy and infant loss is the loss of a sense of self/self-identity. We aren't who we used to be (but miss our old selves) and we are navigating a new normal we have not yet figured out. Offer a sense of normalcy by doing something they previously enjoyed (physical activity, social or personal outings, etc) that offer consistency. For example, make an offer to take a nature walk once a week, or to have dinner and drinks once a month where the parent can be themselves. This consistency will give them something to look forward to that feels like their old self while they figure out their new selves.

  • Be mindful of your vocabulary - When you don't know what to say, the key is to say less. Perinatal loss families aren't generally looking for advice or guidance. They are simply looking for someone to listen and bear witness to the love and loss they have experienced. There are no answers and there certainly is no fixing it. By listening and offering a shoulder to lean on, you don't need to fill space with platitudes and wordy statements.

Things not to say

  • “You are young – you can always have more.”

  • “What did you do wrong?”

  • “The child wouldn’t have been healthy.”

  • “It was not meant to be.”

  • “At least you have other children.”

  • “Life goes on.”

  • ​“Try to get pregnant as fast as you can.”

  • “You’ve got to be strong.”

  • “Don’t cry. Everything is going to be all right.”

  • “It is only a miscarriage.”

  • “I know just how you feel.”

  • “It won’t happen again.”

  • “I understand.”

Things you can say

  • “I don’t know what to say, but I’ll be glad to listen.”

  • “You must feel devastated.”

  • “I’m here if you want to talk.”

  • “Is there anything I can do to help?”

  • “What do you need me to do?”

  • “I’m so sorry this has happened.”

  • “I love you!”

  • "I'd be happy to go with you to a support group or event if and when the time is right."

  • "I wanted to let you know I did a random act of kindness in your baby's memory today and it made me feel so close to them to share how much I love and miss them.

Supporting dad/non-birthing parents...

Often, after the loss of a pregnancy or baby, family and friends focus on the needs of the mother and overlook the needs and grief of the father/non-birthing parent (NBP) who lost the same baby/pregnancy. We recognize that unfortunate fact and are working hard to help change the way people think about and respond to loss. Men, in particular, tend to handle emotions much differently than their female counterparts and your grief is no different. For non-birthing parents, regardless of gender, there is still a need for specialized support in the aftermath to explore their grief, connect with others and find validation for their experience. Below are profiles of other loss dads who are seeking to support other dads at the nest.

Brent Samuelson

Dad to Jimmie (stillbirth), Chloe (ectopic loss) and Beatrix (rainbow birth)

Southern NJ

Text: 609-442-1511


Please reach out if you don't know what to do with your feelings or need someone to talk to. You are not alone, friend!


Yousuf Shamim

Dad to Zara Frances (stillborn)

Philadelphia, PA

Text: 610-507-0951


Even if you feel you don't need the support, you'd be shocked at how nice it is to be around people who can relate!

JP Loggia

Dad to Emerson Rae (stillbirth) and Elia Rae (rainbow birth)

Philadelphia, PA

Text: 610-324-9473


Three Little Birds was a critical resource for my wife and I in our time of need. It is a great community of families that all truly care for each other.


Quinnzel Robinson

Dad to Mila Kelly (early neonatal loss)

Philadelphia, PA

Text: 267-265-5150


Three Little Birds has made the hardest time in my life bearable. Nothing can be soothe the pain of loosing a child. But, the support my wife and I receive here helps more than I could’ve imagined. Read more about Quinnzel's legacy project, the MFFL here!


Doug Francisco

Dad to Bryan, Kristina Jane (stillborn) and Lucas (rainbow birth)

Southeastern PA

Text: 302-438-2024


Three Little Birds bring so much comfort and support to families. It's the support we didn't' know we even needed. I am grateful for the community they have built.


Paul Jay Cohen

Dad to Izzy, River, Finn & Grace (miscarriages)

Southern Jersey Shore

Text: 215-805-4809


Like many loss dads, I could barely whisper "I need help" after our losses. The Three Little Birds community was the first I found that could hear me and that made me feel at home. They gave me the support (and the space) that I needed to heal. I wish I would have reached out sooner!


Cody Miller

Dad to Cade James (stillbirth) and
Odin James (rainbow birth)

Southern NJ

Text: 609-805-7151


When my son died, Three Little Birds stepped in and did something I didn’t know how to do. I didn’t know how to be that dad to my kid in this situation. This is why I want to help others in his memory because its hard to understand, unless you’ve been through it.


Rick Harmening

Dad to Stephen (neonatal/twin loss)

Southern NJ

Text: 609-462-2486


As a Dad in the military, I usually conform to the "adjust on the fly" mentality. When I lost my son Stephen to an illness seven days after birth I was lost. I didn't know who to turn to or how to ask for help as I was going through this all the while being strong to support my wife, daughter, and Stephen's twin, RJ, still being in the NICU. Along came Three Little Birds and they had all the resources I could have ever asked for. I am just getting into the swing of things and hope to return the favor to other parents going through something similar.

Resources for partners:

  • Join the MFFL! - Local loss dad Quinnzel created a fantasy football league in memory of his daughter, Mila. The winner of the fundraising league will receive a large flat screen TV!

  • Love Comma Dad - Care packages from perinatal loss dads to other loss dads.

  • Red Nose Grief & Loss Series - a video series of discussions by perinatal loss parents.

  • Grieving Dads: To the Brink and Back - This book is a collection of candid stories from grieving dads that were interviewed over a two year period. It is a collection of survival stories by men who have survived the worst possible loss and lived to tell the tale. The core message of Grieving Dads is “you’re not alone.” It is a message that desperately needs to be delivered to grieving dads who often grieve in silence due to society’s expectations.”

Supporting siblings through loss...

Three Little Birds has authored a sibling grief book to gently explain perinatal loss to children. You can purchase a copy or request a free Kindle download. In addition to our original book, we offer it in three addition versions: Spanish, LGBTQ (moms) and LGBTQ (dads). Click here to purchase.

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Local support for bereaved siblings

  • Uplift Philly - Uplift Center for Grieving Children (formerly The Center for Grieving Children) was founded in 1995 by the Bereavement Program at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children and incorporated as an independent nonprofit in 2000.

  • Peter's Place - Peter’s Place was founded in 2001 in memory of Peter Morsbach. After Peter’s sudden death at the age of ten, his family and friends became aware that there were few support options for grieving families, especially for those who could not afford it. Friends of the Morsbach family created Peter’s Place, the first family grief support agency of its kind to serve our area. Originally designed after a nationally recognized program, Peter’s Place has since combined awareness of local community needs, professional experience, and extensive best practices research to produce a unique grieving center that is not replicated anywhere.

  • City of Philadelphia Medical Examiner's Office - Free bereavement support services are available for people grieving the loss of a loved one in Philadelphia. To get support, call the MEO bereavement counselors at (215) 685-7408 or (215) 685-7411 during regular business hours and on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For sudden, unexpected deaths of most Philadelphia infants, children, and teens, the MEO offers counseling by phone or in your home. To learn more, call (215) 685-7402.

Supporting grandparents through loss...

Grandparents are grieving twice: first for their grandchild, but also for their children, for whom they cannot fix the situation. Often times, grandparents are the best support system and encouraging of parents in bonding, making memories and photography. Then there are times, where due to generational trauma/influence, grandparents are managing complex grief and can be a hindrance towards making the most of the time they have. Additionally, cultural and societal norms can leave grandparents feeling on edge or wanting to manage the outcome of the experience, without considering the wants/needs of their children for their grandchild. We encourage you to maintain an open dialogue with your elder loved ones as to your wishes and why and allow them an opportunity to help, if possible.


We also want to acknowledge not everyone has the support of parents or older loved ones through this experience which can further complicate feelings or thoughts on what is “right” or “wrong”. We encourage you to do what is best for you and your partner as it relates to your baby. You are their parent and know what is best.

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