Suggestions for Supporting Your Loved Ones
The death of a baby is unlike any other. We are often at a loss for words and actions, and believe that it's better to not say anything in the case we may upset someone. However, this seems to have the opposite effect, isolating parents even more in their grief. Below are some suggestions that will help guide you in supporting your loved one, family member, or friend who has endured the death of their baby.
Arrange for meal delivery, meal gift cards, or grocery gift cards (2-4 weeks after the baby's death is helpful) - check out the Give In Kind website for more ideas as well as opportunities to purchase gift cards
Refer to them as parents—as they are, even if they do not have a living child—and acknowledge them on Mother's and Father's Days
Make sure to remember, ask about, and care for the father, as he is also grieving
Ask about the name of the baby
Ask how the baby died
Ask to see a photograph of the baby or to describe how the baby looked
Tell them their baby is beautiful
Ask them to tell you about their baby
Be present—listen, and sit with them
Ask what would feel healing or helpful
If they have living children, offer to take the children for outings and let the parents have time to grieve alone or together
Birthdays, holidays, and anniversaries (death, due date, etc.) are especially difficult. Let the parents know that you are thinking of them and their baby on these special days by practicing thoughtfulness (i.e. a card, flowers, small gift, cake, balloons, candle). Be open and accepting of however they choose to celebrate these holidays.
The grieving process is never over and parents are always grateful for your kindness. Months after the baby has passed away, it can be helpful to continue to send "thinking of you" cards or thoughtful gifts.
We also love this list of ideas from Refuge in Grief: How to help a grieving friend.
A printable PDF of this information is available for download here.