Grief is something everyone handles differently, therefore it makes sense that there isn’t a one size fits all to supporting friends and family who have lost a baby. Especially if we have never experienced this type of loss, we can find ourself lumped into the group of “they mean well” trying to find words to say, or things to do that aren’t helpful. So when we find ourselves not knowing what to say, sometimes actions speak louder than words. Here’s some great suggestions if you just don’t know what to do:
Listening is not talking with someone: it’s listening. It’s not thinking of what you should say in reply. It’s allowing silence if they aren’t up to it. It’s in the hundreds of things communicated by a simple but heartfelt hug. Its allowing them the freedom to speak their grief and keeping their trust with what they tell you.
Some people LOVE to cook, but many people do not. Either way when we are feeling crummy, it’s something we appreciate others doing for us. Creating a “meal train” is easy today online with sites such as this one linked here. Ordering people meals for pick up and delivery are also options for people long distance.
3. Give them a break
Not that kind of break, although chocolate does work on many people (I refer to you to #2 above). Babysit their kids, mow their lawn, rake their leaves, shovel their walk, walk their dog, clean their house, take their kids to school and back. You get the picture, ways to actively serve are endless.
4. Give a Gift
Birthstone jewelry, Christmas ornaments, something personalized with the baby’s name, phonebook if they have any pictures you can get your hands on of their pregnancy and the baby if they were able to get some of the baby. Frame a picture, a quote they love. Some gift ideas can be found on search engines, or at this site.
5. Offer a Mass, an hour in Adoration
Actually this is by far the best thing you can do. One of the beautiful things we are gifted with is the unity of constant prayer around the world. Remembering the baby in mass and during adoration is a beautiful way we can come together as a church family and celebrate their life here on earth and their entrance into heaven and the great cloud of witnesses.
6. Don’t forget Dad
Often Dad gets forgotten as the mom is the one physically losing or has lost the baby. However Dad is grieving as well. Be sure he knows these supportive gestures are for him as well.
7. Offer Online Support
In this generation we often turn to blogs and search engines to find ways we can handle situations we have never been in. Here are a few of my favorite resources both to understand what someone else might be going through if you have never experienced this type of grief yourself. Here is a link to one of my favorite blogs where a personal friend has shared her story.
8. Remember Dates
Email, text, visit, send a card, drop off a gift, send a card, have flowers delivered on important dates. Set reminders in your planner for the baby’s date of delivery/physical birth, the day the baby was buried/memorialized, the day they lost the baby, the day they found out they had lost the baby, holidays that would have been firsts celebrated.
9. Talk about the baby by Name
If you were lucky enough to be entrusted with the baby’s name, use it when you talk about the baby.
10. Encourage the parents to name and bury the baby
Here is a link to a recent post from one of our respected authors who recently lost his son just seven weeks before his due date, and how his family chose to remember and celebrate Augusten.