Posts Tagged ‘bereavement’

How to support grieving parents

Friday, February 23rd, 2018

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.

Avoid a tragedy – learn safe sleep strategies

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

cropped sleeping babyEvery so often, we hear a tragic story from a new parent. Last week, a three week old baby died of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). This post is in memory of that baby, and our hearts go out to the family.

It is important for parents and caregivers to know safe sleep strategies. Please help us get the word out: ALWAYS, put your baby to sleep on her back, in a crib without bumpers, blankets, stuffed toys or loose bedding.

Back to Sleep and Tummy to Play is an easy way to remember that all healthy babies should be put to sleep on their backs every time until their first birthday. Do not put your baby to sleep on her side, either. Most babies will roll over both ways by the end of the 7th month, but always start them out going to sleep on their backs. You can give your baby tummy time to help strengthen her back muscles when she is awake and you are watching her.

About 3,500 infants (less than one year of age) die suddenly and unexpectedly each year in the United States, according to the CDC. SIDS is the leading cause of death in babies between 1 month and 1 year old. Most SIDS cases happen in babies between 2 and 4 months old. We don’t know what causes SIDS, but certain things can put babies at higher risk:

  • Bed sharing – do not sleep in the same bed as your baby. Sleeping in the same room is suggested, just not the same bed. Bed sharing is the biggest risk factor for SIDS in babies under 4 months of age.
  • Sofa or couch sleeping – do not let your baby sleep on the couch or soft surfaces, including pillows. Nearly 13 percent of infant sleeping deaths are sofa-related.
  • Wearing too many clothes or sleeping in a room that is too hot.
  • Sleeping on her tummy or side.

Read more about safe sleep, mom and baby care and other tips for reducing the risk of SIDS.

If you have questions about putting your baby to sleep, send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org or ask your baby’s health care provider.

If you or someone you know has lost a baby due to SIDS or an unknown reason, the Pregnancy and Newborn Health Education Center offers bereavement packets to families. Just email us with your mailing address and we will send one to you.

See other topics in the series on Delays and Disabilities- How to get help for your child, here.

 

Updated Sept. 2015

Loss is painful

Monday, December 12th, 2011

flowerI recently read that Michelle Duggar had a miscarriage with her 20th child. While many women choose to have babies later in life, there are risks associated with pregnancy in older women and risks associated with spacing children too close together.  Sadly, miscarriage is common (as many as 40 percent of all pregnancies may end in miscarriage), but that doesn’t change the fact that losing a baby is painful.

Whether it is your first pregnancy or your last, whether you just recently learned of your pregnancy or you were many months along, whether you have a houseful of children or none, the loss of a baby is not an easy thing.

Reading about the Duggar’s loss made me think to remind you that the March of Dimes has created bereavement materials for families who have suffered a loss. We have written a booklet called From Hurt to Healing to help families understand their grief. It explains grief and how men and women grieve differently. It talks about how to deal with your feelings, tells you how to ask for help, how to deal with family and friends, how to help other children understand. And it suggests ways to remember your baby. Two other booklets (What Can You Do? and When You Want to Try Again) are part of a packet the March of Dimes offers free to bereaved parents. We hope our booklets, fact sheets, and list of resources help parents find ways to heal and think about the future.

If you would like one of these helpful and free bereavement packets, please send an email requesting it to Askus@marchofdimes.org. Be sure to include your complete U.S. mailing address.

The pain of losing a baby

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

flowerLast fall, my husband’s cousin gave birth to very premature twin girls. They were tiny and beautiful and the hope of their little family.  Sadly, one of the girls died after six days.  Her sister has been fighting an astonishing fight in the NICU for the past seven months and is coming home this week. While we all are thrilled at her pending arrival, we are painfully reminded each day that she is coming home alone.

The death of a baby is so unfair. Babies aren’t supposed to die. Some days our cousin is overwhelmed by her feelings of loss.  In the midst of this sadness, the family has found a caring friend and support through the March of Dimes

The March of Dimes has written a booklet called From Hurt to Healing to help families understand their grief. It explains grief and how men and women grieve differently. It talks about how to deal with your feelings, tells you how to ask for help, how to deal with family and friends, how to help other children understand. And it suggests ways to remember your baby. Two other booklets, What Can You Do? and When You Want to Try Again are part of a packet the March of Dimes offers free to bereaved parents who have suffered a loss. We hope our booklets, fact sheets, and list of resources help parents find ways to heal and think about the future. I know they have helped our cousin.

Our bereavement materials are available in English and Spanish.  If you would like to have one of these helpful and free kits, please send an email requesting it to the following address: AskUs@marchofdimes.org. Be sure to include your complete mailing address.

 

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day

Friday, October 15th, 2010

Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. It’s a day we should not forget, a day we honor those little ones who are not here with us. The death of a baby is one of the most painful things that can happen to a family. It’s so unfair. Babies aren’t supposed to die. They are the beginning of life, not the end. Remembering is important, but coping with the pain of loss is difficult. I wanted to let you know about our bereavement materials.

You may have had a miscarriage or a stillbirth during pregnancy. Or your baby may have died at birth or after birth. You may have been overwhelmed by your feelings of loss. I know our family was when it happened to us.

The March of Dimes has written a booklet called From Hurt to Healing to help families understand their grief. It explains grief, talks about how to deal with your feelings, tells you how to ask for help, and suggests ways to remember your baby. It discusses the ways women and men grieve differently, and ways to help other children understand. We hope this and our other booklets and fact sheets help you find ways to heal and think about the future.

You can read about our bereavement material, available in English and Spanish, on our website. If you would like to have one of these helpful and free kits, please send an email requesting it to the following address: bkit@marchofdimes.org.  Be sure to include your complete mailing address.

Pregnancy after a loss

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

flowerLosing a baby is something no parent should have to face but, sadly, it does happen to some people. After a baby dies, some parents want to try to get pregnant again as soon as possible, while others want to wait.  Some are afraid to try again because they are worried about losing another baby.  Some are very angry.  I think most couples go back and forth between wanting and not wanting to get pregnant again.

If this has happened to you, ask yourself how you feel about getting pregnant again.  Talk to your partner about your feelings and ask him how he feels.  He may feel differently, so share your concerns and make a plan that supports both of you.

Ask your provider when it’s OK for you to start trying for another pregnancy. Some women are told to wait at least 18 months before getting pregnant again.  This gives your body enough time to heal and your emotions time to settle.  But not all women can wait that long because of their age or other factors.  So, talk with your provider about your medical history and make a plan that’s best for you.  Be sure to get a preconception checkup with your provider, too, to make sure you’re as healthy as possible.  You’ll want to be taking a good multivitamin with at least 400 mcg of folic acid each day.

The March of Dimes has created bereavement materials available at no charge for parents or other family members who have experienced the loss of a baby between conception and the first month of life.  These include different fact sheets, three booklets (From Hurt to Healing; What Can You Do?, and When You Want to Try Again), and a list of grief resources.  They are available in English and Spanish.  You can read about some of these materials and order a free kit on our website.

Help with grief

Friday, April 17th, 2009

The death of a baby is one of the most painful things that can happen to a family. It’s so unfair. Babies aren’t supposed to die. They are the beginning of life, not the end. Sadly, we have heard of the loss of several babies recently, so I wanted to let you know about our bereavement materials.

You may have had a miscarriage or a stillbirth during pregnancy. Or your baby may have died at birth or after birth. You may been overwhelmed by your feelings of loss.  I know our family was when it happened to us.

The March of Dimes has written a booklet called From Hurt to Healing to help families understand their grief. It explains grief, talks about how to deal with your feelings, tells you how to ask for help, and suggests ways to remember your baby. It discusses the ways women and men grieve differently, and ways to help other children understand. We hope this and our other booklet and fact sheets help you find ways to heal and think about the future.

You can read about our bereavement material, available in English and Spanish, on our website.   If you would like to have one of these helpful and free kits, please send an email requesting it to the following address: AskUs@marchofdimes.org. Be sure to include your complete mailing address.