There are many types of advice 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 easily be 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 like saying this is not the loss of a treasured little one, but a trinket who can easily be replaced or forgotten. Surely, you don’t want to give the parents that kind of message.
Let’s explore the issue of how to understand the parents and how to help. Comments, advice, and behaviors (including silence) parents receive after having a baby die can be helpful or hurtful.
Baby’s death from miscarriage, stillbirth, termination of a wanted baby, NICU, is different than an older child. Why?
After the death, Mom probably has feelings that can be linked to the dramatic hormonal change in her body; she may be extra sensitive about everything (how things are said, what is said, what is NOT DONE or SAID)
Both parents –
Family, Friends, Caregivers often –
This is a very difficult time for all – it is easy to lose friends and family who don’t get it; who say the wrong things; who stay silent due to inexperience, fear, or who are clueless about what they can do to be of comfort. If you don’t want to see your relationship in turmoil or lost, now is the time to be extra sensitive and aware.
Before reaching out or speaking to bereaved parents/family ask yourself
“What is my intention?” Explore that thought before you act in a knee jerk fashion and accidently push people away or appear to be judging them. Is it your intention to help or hurt them? It is your intention to be a good listener and not tell them what to do? Is it your intention to be compassionate and validate their feelings, no matter what they are or whether you agree with them or not?
Hurtful comments and behaviors that usually don’t help unless the parents say them first—
(They come from eZine # 12 Family & Friends which can be ordered in the eShop.)
1. Minimize the loss; give suggestions of what seems worse
(The size of body, length we know someone does not determine depth of love or time required to grieve well)
2. God and His role
Most people do not want to hurt bereaved parents on purpose. If they feel you are too hurtful, they may give up contact or rarely connect with you. They may need to do this in order to protect themselves. In an attempt to try to understand how and why you might respond in less-helpful ways…
Read books that help you know what they are going through and check out the resources in this section to learn more on what you can do to help them….AND learn what you can do to help yourself. This baby is a part of your family, too.