A.F. asks from Ogden, UT on August 24, 2008
Support Ideas for the Loss of a Baby?
My cousin and his wife just had and lost a baby to Trisomy 18 after about a day of life. He was their second baby boy, and there have been multiple common family members to have healthy babies in the last few months. I know they are going through a very difficult time right now, and I want to do something to show my support. They live out of state, so I can't be there personally, but I'm close enough relationship-wise that doing something would be appropriate. I'm just at a loss for what to do. Should I get them something? Make them something? Anyone have any good ideas? If any of you have lost a child and received something phenomenally comforting or appropriate for the occasion, I'd love to hear. Thanks.
So What Happened?™
Thank you all for the great advice. I had a miscarriage a few years ago, and had NO words of comfort or support worth recognizing. You have all given me some very good ideas and I really appreciate your personal experiences. I've decided to paint them a watercolor picture of an angel cradling a baby with the words "'Til We Meet Again." I'm hoping it's something they can remember him by, as well as be comforted by.
C.C. answers from Salt Lake City on August 25, 2008
I lost two babies before birth...my grief was great, and I can't even bein to comprehend how hard it would be to bring the child into the world and then lose it...with that being said, the best thing a friend did for me was made a small gift bag with some body lotion, a bath soak and a card that just said, I just want you to know I am here for you and I love you. Simple. Perfect. It was the most precious thing anyone did for me at that time. no rehashing what I had lost just expressing love and concern and giving me something to do for myself which I didn't realize at the time but was so needed.
R.K. answers from Salt Lake City on August 25, 2008
Below is a guideline I give my clients. It is by nomeans 100 percent complete, however; it will help in choosing your words and actions.
This is not a complete list of every right thing to do or say and every wrong, there is no such list, in fact, some of the items listed here may be the opposite to a particular person or couple. The most important thing in a time of sadness is to be honest, sensitive and observant to the feelings and needs of each parent. These are some suggestion to use as a guide. Many of these came from the very hard work of Holly Richardson, CD, ICCE adapted by R. Garcia MA. Go through and find what might feel right for you, print it up and post it on your front door for visitors to read.
Helpful things to say/do to/for parents who are grieving a miscarriage, stillbirth, infant or child loss:
• “I’m so sorry.”
• “Hare you doing with all of this?”
• “What can I do for you?” (Understand this is not very helpful as the reply is usually, “nothing” or “I don’t know” so BE OBSERVANT and LOOK for ways to help)
• “Tell me about your baby.” (If baby had a name and you know it, USE IT)
• “I’ll be over with dinner at ______ “(name the time or number of minutes away)
• “I’m here and I would like to listen>”
• “I don’t know what to say.” (This may possibly be THE MOST comforting thing to say of all)
• Say anything that affirms their grief and values their baby.
• Share your honest grief with them.
• Allow each parent to grieve differently: one may express extreme emotion while the other seems to express none.
• Pray with and for parents.
• Offer to ten other children so parents can plan ceremonies or just have time alone to sleep or grieve. (Be understanding to parents who seem to “cling” to other children.)
Things to avoid saying/doing…the are wounding:
• “I know just how you feel.” (This is their experience not yours)
• “Be thankful you already have a healthy child.”
• “You can always have another.” (You would never say this about any other family member; husband, mother, brother, sister, etc….)
• “It’s for the best.”
• “You have an angel in heaven.”
• “This is nature’s way of weeding out the defective ones.”
• “I’ve known other people who’ve handled this well; they never cried.”
• “You/she/he is/are taking this hard.”
• “At least you know you’re fertile.”
• “You’re lucky it happened now instead of six months from now…you didn’t really know the baby yet.”
• “At least your loss was final”
• Anything that makes light of the baby or the loss, including trying to find the “blessing” or “bright side” from the loss.
• Avoid comparing stories and experiences. Saying you or someone you know had a “bigger” trial is not helpful and very hurtful.
• Over doing grief—being so distraught the parents feel obligated to comfort YOU! This is THEIR loss.
• Forcing grief on parents. Some parents have an internal peace about the loss and are comforted, allow them to benefit from this gift.
• Avoid changing the subject when the topic turns to the loss.
• Avoid keeping personal news from parents in fear of upsetting them—allow them to participate in life, they will decide how much they are ready for.
Having known many who've lost a child, the MOST important thing you can offer them is SINCERITY. If you are GENUINE in your concern for them you'll do well. With that, ONE of the MOST beneficial gifts is allowing them to share feelings of their baby, memories of the pregnancy and birth, the good, the bad, the indifferent, their fears for the future, their anger, their hope...allow them to SHARE without interuption.
You could do a photo collage, video, scrapbook, etc...be very sensitive and careful...and REAL.
I have given SYMPHONY candy bars with a note to the affect that WE together are a symphony and while they are now living a solo part we're here as their melodic support to create harmony. (Chocolate also creates a oxytocin-like rush which is comforting--one reason many of us women LOVE chocolate)
Offer only what you actually can give and/or do.
Offer your love often.
PLEASE, Please, please, REMEMBER DAD! So often Daddy is forgotten and pushed aside because Mommy is emotional and, well, "mommy" and dad feels the need to "keep it together" and to "be strong" for her. This is terribly unhelpful for both--he begins to fester and she misreads it as uncaring. If you're close enough to Dad, express your sorrow and support to HIM for the lost role of being this child's DADDY, for the lost hope HE had, for the difficult position he is in grieving and having to be supportive to his wife. Give HIM personal support, too.
3 moms found this helpful
M.B. answers from Salt Lake City on August 25, 2008
My friend just lost one of her twin babies, so we gave her a statue of a mom and and an angle baby. She loved it and I think it will help her remember her baby when she looks at it. Good Luck!
D.T. answers from Boise on August 25, 2008
When a friend of ours lost thier little baby girl, I had no idea what to say or do, so I wrote them a simple note. And that is exactly what I said. I said I was so sorry and that I had no idea what to do, but wanted to be there for them both if I could be. I was very careful with my words because I really didn't have any idea how they must be feeling. I was very honest in my feelings and sympathy, but also lending support where and when I could lend it or give it. Sometimes just a few simple words is all someone needs. She later told me that was just what she needed, and gave me a huge thanks. And that alone made ME feel better. (because I think we get nervous about what to say or do!!) Follow your heart. You have some good advice here.
H.F. answers from Salt Lake City on August 25, 2008
Oh boy. Well, this made me think of the miscarriage I had. My step-mother refused to cry, and I couldn't understand why. She told me "I will be strong for you. I will listen and I will love you, but I will be strong for you." Part of helping someone get through this is just to be strong for them, emotionally. Because sometimes even though you are hurting for them, they just need someone to be strong for them, to tell them that you are sorry for them, but you will help them by being strong. Even if it means you can't cry, you can still listen and be supportive.
Had my step-mother given in while I am an absolute wreck, I wouldn't have been able to make it through that time. Now, I know I have an angel that is looking after me. I know that child sees me and watches out for me, and have experienced that when my angel tapped on my shoulder when I feel asleep driving.
C.S. answers from Salt Lake City on August 27, 2008
I have heard about a group that gives out bears to parents who've lost babies so they don't have to go home empty-handed. I heard about them on an unrelated podcast and can't remember their name. Perhaps you can get on the internet and Google them or look in the Yellow pages or online Yellow Pages: dexonline.com. I'm sorry I coulldn't be more helpful than that. My husband had bought a white Beany baby bear for our first born that I ended up miscarrying, so I understand on a small scale what her loss feels like. I looked at that bear for a few years thinking about our loss until we had a baby. Now I can look at it without feeling sad. I even let my boys play with it if they want.
If you're the religious type you could pray for her. I'm sure that would make her feel better as well.
J.S. answers from Pueblo on August 25, 2008
When a friend of mine lost her daughter at five months, I put a picture of the baby at the top with this poem below and framed it and gave it to them as a gift! They loved it and were very appreciative, good luck and my condolences to the family. (by the way the other advice with the list, kinda harsh! this is a time for sensitivity(at least the loss is final OUCH!)
A CHILD LOANED
I'll send you for a little time, a child of mine,
He said... for you to love while he lives
and mourn when he's dead.
It may be six or seven years, or twenty-two or three,
But will you, till I call him back, take care of him for me?
She'll bring her charms to gladden you, and should her
stay be brief... You'll have her lovely memories
as solace for your grief.
I cannot promise he will stay since all from earth return,
But there are lessons taught down there
I want this child to learn.
I've looked this wide world over in my search for teachers true,
and from the throngs that crowd life's lanes,
I have selected you.
Now will you give him all your love... not think the labor vain,
Not hate me when I come to call and take him back again.
I fancied that I heard them say,
Dear Lord, thy will be done. For all the joy the child shall bring,
the risk of grief we'll run. We'll shelter him with tenderness,
We'll love him while we may...
for the happiness we've known...
and for every grateful stay.
But should the angels call for him much sooner than
We'll brave the bitter grief that comes,
and try to understand."
E.P. answers from Salt Lake City on August 25, 2008
I like to give the book "Grieving, The Pain and the Promise" by Deanna Edwards to anyone who is grieving for the loss of a loved one. It is a book which brings comfort and inspiration to those who have suffered the loss of loved ones or experienced grief as a result of illness, physical disability, divorce or unfulfilled dreams. She teaches valuable lessons about the process of grief, how to help others who are grieving and how we can learn from our grief.
L.N. answers from Salt Lake City on August 25, 2008