"You could try to make it better, or you can be a good listener. You could bring in dynamite to blast sunshine in their tunnel of pain. Or you can bring warmth and love, with a candle and a hug. Your intentions ought to validate their loss, offer support, and prove you care by listening and being there.
It's the simple things that are the most profound and helpful."
Your relative or friend has had a baby die. You shared in the hopes and dreams, not expecting an ending like this. Now you may wonder what is your role and how you can help. You may also feel a deep loss and wonder how to respond and take care of yourself so you can also be there for your loved one. We are so sorry about this sad turn of events.
As a bereaved mother and parent advocate myself, my team and I offer you resources and suggestions for how to help your loved one at the time of loss and over time.
There are many bits of advice, phrases, and comments that may come to your mind as you reach out to the parents and their children. Sometimes this advice can actually cause more harm. So be careful.
Think through what your intention is – to support and legitimize their pain rather than try to take it away, which you can’t. After all, when someone is loved deeply (like this baby), they will not, nor should they be, easily forgotten. Moving on quickly, trying to replace them with another, and not talking about them says the opposite – they weren’t that important, they don’t really matter. It is as if you are saying this is not the loss of a treasured little one, but a trinket that can easily be replaced or forgotten. Surely, you don’t want to give the parents that kind of message.
Our goal is to support you and empower you to also be there for the bereaved parents in a wise, sensitive, and compassionate manner. We have resources that can provide you with a solid background on what the bereaved parents and your/the family are going through and specific, practical ideas on how to support and help each other. The video Shattered Dreams is an 11 minute video with an accompanying handout that will help you be well-informed. The booklet What Family & Friends Can Do is short and easily readable. Chock full of specific ideas, it can help you plan ways to help. Empty Arms: Coping with Miscarriage, Stillbirth, and Infant Death, a short, self-help guide book written for bereaved parents will give you in-depth insight as to what the parents go through and what you can to do be there for them. The booklet Grieving Grandparents shares the idea that grandparents want so to keep their children from hurting and yet, hurt deeply themselves at the loss of a beloved grandchild. We also have Advice Handouts as well as more ideas in this section of our website.
And then there are pages and pages of other resources in our Resource Section. The list is endless as we recognize that your needs are great. Explore the entire site to learn who and what are out there to help you and your community.