Family & Friends

How to Support Someone with a Loss

Immediately after:
  • Listen.
  • Practical help – meals, cleaning, laundry.
  • If you are running errands, please call to see if they need anything.
  • Don’t avoid them. It’s hard to know the right words to say but just being there for a shoulder to cry means a lot.
  • If they have other children, please remember them, also. They are grieving too. Offer to take them on an outing, because the bereaved parents still can’t face the reality that “life goes on.”
  • Mark the birthdate of the baby on your calendar so you can send a note or call each year.
The years that follow:
  • Help create a legacy.
  • Honor remembrance rituals.
  • Continue to honor the baby.
  • Share how the death of their baby affected you also.
  • Send a card, so they know that you are thinking of them.
  • Purchase a special ornament or figurine with baby’s name on it.
All the time:
  • Help create a legacy.
  • Honor remembrance rituals.
  • Continue to honor the baby.
  • Check in on them and ask how they are doing, not just the weeks and months following the loss.
  • Let them share their story. Over and over again if necessary. Sometimes, bereaved parents need to keep going over the details until they seem real.
Thoughtful gifts:
  • Make a donation in memory of the baby.
  • Gift certificate for a tree that can be planted to watch grow.
  • Gift certificate to the families favorite restaurant, preferably with no expiration date.
  • Gift basket just for mom. (Bubble bath, shower gel, stress relieving soaks, candles, etc. or lounge clothing and a box of chocolates or other sweets.)
  • Something for the other children (if applicable) like a gift basket of age appropriate toys, coloring books, reading books or movies.
  • Doll or stuffed animal in memory of sister/brother for other children.
  • Jewelry including the baby’s birthstone, birthday or other meaningful symbol.
  • Engrave a Christmas ornament with the baby’s name and birthday.
  • Baby block with remembrance stats (name, birthday, time, weight, length).
  • Edible arrangements.

What to Say

  • The baby’s name (if named).
  • What did s/he look like?
  • I am so sorry for your loss.
  • What can I do to help?
  • I was thinking of your baby (say the name).
  • You are always your baby’s mother.
  • This is not your fault.
  • I am here if you ever need to talk.
  • It is ok to be in this much pain.
  • You’re in our prayers.
  • I love you.
  • Validate how much they love and miss their baby.

What NOT to Say

  • Everything happens for a reason.
  • God must have needed another angel.
  • God works all things together for good.
  • Your baby is in a better place.
  • It was for the best.
  • It was meant to be.
  • That is very common.
  • At least you have other children, (or other phrases that starts with “At least…”)
  • You can always have more children.
  • You are young, there’s plenty of time to have more children.
  • Compare your birth experiences.
  • Something good will soon come out of this.
  • There must have been something wrong with her/him.
  • The baby was suffering. They are better off now.
  • I wanted to call you or stop by but…. (If you think about giving them a call or stopping over for a visit, don’t think about it, just do it.)
  • I know how you feel. (unless you have also experienced the death of a child.)
  • How rough your week is.
  • Critique final arrangements or bring unpleasant thoughts about final resting place.
  • Question the medical decision(s) the parents made or tell them what you would have done differently.
  • Compare the death of their baby to the death of a pet.
  • Get over it.  You can’t bring them back.
  • Are you over it yet?
  • When will you be over it?
  • Are you done grieving?
  • If they are able to get pregnant again, please don’t tell them “everything will be fine.”
  • If you are pregnant, be sensitive to how your pregnancy might affect the grieving family. A pregnant mother should never complain to a grieving mother about their own pregnancy.
  • Don’t force yourself to say something; silence and tears can be as comforting as words.

Although most people have nothing but the best of intentions, some comments do hurt. Please remember their loss, and speak words that do not sting.