February 26, 2018
Miscarriage and baby loss: it’s a sad topic and always tough to talk about. However, with 1 in 4 pregnancies ending in loss and with 1 out of 60 births ending in stillbirth or neonatal death, either you or someone you know has experienced this situation and carry it along throughout life. This means it’s important to know how to be supportive.
You want to be an uplifting friend. You want to help them and be there for them during grief, but it’s hard to know what to say, right? You already know to avoid hurtful cliches like “it happened for a reason” or “you can always have another one”, but what are some real ways that you can bring comfort? Here are some suggestions on how to help a friend grieving a baby.
Say Their Name
One of the most powerful things you can do for a grieving parent is to remember their child’s name – and use it. This shows that you include their child as a part of their family, and remember them as a real person who was loved and made an impact with their existence. If you don’t know their name, it is okay to ask the parents if they named their baby, and if they would like to share it with you.
No matter how much time has gone by, a grieving parent will always know how old their child would be. As the weeks, months, and years pass, it’s hard for a bereaved parent to feel that everyone else has “moved on”. On dates such as the expected due date, the child’s birthday, or the day that they passed, the parents will appreciate an extra hug, a “thinking of you” or “praying for you” text, or a kind card in the mail. You can even set a calendar alert on your phone so you don’t forget an important milestone to support your friend through.
When you feel like you don’t know what to say or do to help a grieving friend, it’s easy to sort of slip away – you don’t call and text as much, you don’t invite them to lunch as often, or you don’t bring them to any parties. It’s okay for them to take as much time as they need before they’re ready to talk about it or do any activities, just don’t fall into the trap of “I don’t know what to say, so I’ll just say nothing.” Let them know you’re thinking about them and you’d love to see them at your event, but you’ll understand and save them a cupcake if they don’t show up.
Bring Them a Meal
Don’t ask, just do. A common trap we fall into is to say “let me know if you need anything.” Or if we’re feeling a little adventurous, we’ll come out and ask “do you need anything?” People have a hard time agreeing that they need help and will usually say no even if they could use a hand. Cooking themselves a warm, nutritious meal is (rightfully) the last thing on their minds right now, and as a part of their circle it’s on you to help lessen all of their little burdens. Leave some casseroles on their doorstep, have pizza delivered to their house, or even help with housework – see what needs to be done, and lend a hand.
Even though only time can ease the hurt, we can do everything that is within our power to support and love on our friends who have lost little ones. If you freeze up, just remember: saying or doing something, is better than nothing at all.