The loss of a baby is one of the most painful things that can happen to a family. If you have a family member or friend that has lost a baby during pregnancy, in the first days of life, or even as an infant, it’s very hard to know what to say or do. Here are some ideas that may help.
It’s important to recognize that although the loss may have happened to friends or family, you may be affected by their baby’s death too. To be able to support the parents, try to understand your own feelings. You may feel sad, helpless, worried, angry, confused or numb. You may wonder how you can help the parents if you feel so sad yourself. There’s no right or wrong way to feel. But by understanding how you feel, you can better support the grieving family.
It’s hard to know exactly what to say to parents whose baby has died. But there are a few important things to remember:
- Be simple: “I’m sorry for your loss.”
- Be honest: “I don’t know what to say. I can’t imagine what you’re going through.”
- Be comforting: “I care about you and your family. Please tell me what I can do to help.”
- Be specific, not everyone feels comfortable asking for help: “Can I bring you dinner on Tuesday? How about I watch the kids this week”
Don’t forget about dad. Be sure to include him as a grieving parent.
Some words may not be helpful to a grieving family, in fact, they may actually be hurtful. Here are things you should NOT to say to grieving parents:
- “You’ll get over it in time.”
- “It’s for the best.”
- “You can always have another baby.”
- “Count your blessings.”
If you can’t find the right words, it’s OK to say nothing. Sometimes just being there to listen and hold a hand is all a parent needs. You don’t always have to find the perfect words to say.
Parents may need lots of comfort and support during this painful time. And there are many things you can do to help. You can read more about grief and loss on our website too. The most important thing is simply to offer your support and love to your family or friend and let them know you are there for them as they grieve.