28 answers

What Can We Do for Grieving Family?

I just wanted to know if any of you had friends or neighbors that suffered a loss of an infant and what did you do for them? I don't have much of a relationship with the family other than seeing them at our annual block party and other neighborhood gatherings. So I am looking for ideas about what we can do as a neighborhood to support them and let them know we care.

Thanks

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

The best thing I got from friends when I lost my two was hand written notes & cards. That way I didn't have to talk to them about it but it gave them a way to let me know they were thinking of me. I don't know if they have other children already but offering to take the other kids is also a great way to give them time to grieve without worrying about what their other children will think or having to be a parent while grieving.

1 mom found this helpful

Couple of ideas:

contact the local library of the family and offer to make a donation to the children's Department.

Morton Arboretum or local park district for funds to go towards trees

contact the local NICU unit to contribute to an existing fund or begin a new fund in the child's name

organize a neighborhood effort to make dinners for the family

Make A Wish foundation is a nice all encompassing organization that serves the needs of children suffering from a variety of ailments

I would do the meals and send then a card. One thing that is hard for any grieving person is that after a couple of months the cards tend to slow down and people go on with there live but for the griever it's still so hard. So maybe after a month or two i would send out another thinking of you card just to let them know their still on people's mind.

More Answers

Hi H.,

Your request brings up a lot of memories for me. We suffered the loss of our daughter almost 3 years ago. She was full term and healthy. During delivery the doctor made a horrible mistake and we lost her. At first, people stopped over a lot and I remember a friend bringing toilet paper and bottled water because we seemed to go through those two things quickly. We appreciated food and fruit (from Edible Arrangements). After the first couple of weeks, people stopped coming by as often and I remember feeling sad thinking people had already forgotten. It was so nice to get cards and phone calls from friends letting me know they were still thinking of her weeks and months afterward. We still get cards on her birthday. Some of the other very meaningful gifts include trees along with personalized bricks and stones for the garden (we have a brick at Good Sam's as someone mentioned below... they have a very nice memorial service every year which my MIL actually puts together). We had a couple of relatives paint and frame pictures of my daughter. We were given a very nice trunk/chest to keep all of the beautiful gifts people had given us such as handmade blankets and all of the cards we received. We were also given a beautiful Isabel Bloom angel (there is a shop downtown Naperville).
Everyone is different in how they grieve and I don't know the exact circumstances but I can tell you that I feel comfortable talking about my daughter and my close friends feel comfortable talking about her with me and listening to me grieve. I like when people say her name and I know she has not been forgotten. I can also tell you that some people didn't quite know what to say and ended up saying the wrong thing. I appreciated hearing "my heart hurts for you and your husband...your daughter is loved and will not be forgotten". I did NOT appreciate hearing "everything happens for a reason".

Those are my thoughts, just be sincere and kind-hearted and I'm sure anything you do or give will be appreciated.

A.

1 mom found this helpful

Hello,
We lost our son at 10 months old and although nothing really "helped" it was nice to get letters of "just thinking of you". We also had people bring us dinners or desserts. I think this is the only reason I ate during that time. Our neighbors also stopped by to just talk. Not necessarily about our loss but about what was going on in the neighborhood or with their families. Just let then know that they, and especially their child, are in your thoughts.

1 mom found this helpful

The best thing I got from friends when I lost my two was hand written notes & cards. That way I didn't have to talk to them about it but it gave them a way to let me know they were thinking of me. I don't know if they have other children already but offering to take the other kids is also a great way to give them time to grieve without worrying about what their other children will think or having to be a parent while grieving.

1 mom found this helpful

I'm not sure where you live, but if it's anywhere near downers Grove you might think about buying a brick at the Good Sams hospital angel Garden. My cousin and her husband created it after 12 miscarriages, 1 stillbirth, and 1 infant son, born at 30 weeks, died. It is a beautiful garden where parnets can go to celebrate their "angel babies". A brick can be purchased and engraved with their childs information. Hope this helps!

1 mom found this helpful

Unfortunately I have experienced this first hand. We lost our daughter when she was six weeks old. There is nothing that can be said that will make everything feel better, but there were things that comforted us. A friend tried calling, but I didn't have the energy to talk so every couple of weeks for at least six months she just sent a card with a short note saying she was thinking of me. We also were given money by my god-mother to plant a tree in Maddie's honor. My husband's grandparents gave us a memorial brick that we have placed in front of her tree. And even four years later, I am still grieving and my good friends still listen to me as I talk about her. One thing they may worry about is people forgetting. And that life, however short, made a big impact on them and the last thing they would want anyone to do is forget about their child. Basically, any showing of compassion, notes, food, money, or just a listening ear will help.

1 mom found this helpful

I am a subscriber of a blog of a mom who lost her son when she was 20 weeks pregnant. I just wanted to pass this link on, as it may help you to understand what your neighbor may be going though.
I know that what this mom wants most is for people to not forget her son. Anything that keeps his memory alive she is thankful for. Her blog is public, so all others reading are welcome to view it.

www.whenhellomeansgoodbye.blogspot.com

1 mom found this helpful

that is horrible.

customary, people make food and bring it over

1 mom found this helpful

My sister-in-law lost a baby 4 years ago. Heartbreaking doesn't begin to describe it. Since she is part of our family, of course it's a little different than your situation. I really wouldn't worry to much about 'what' you do because let's face it-their pain is so deep right now...the only thing you can really do is let them know you care. I think bringing a meal over is a great idea. Even if it's just a coffee cake or something like that, if you include a nice note/card, I'm sure they will be really touched. When something tragic like this happens, one sort of 'expects' family to step up. But sometimes it's the gestures from the ones that you don't expect (like you and the other neighbors) that can really make a difference. I think too, it's often important, for parents that lost a baby, that the baby be remembered as their baby that was lost...not just something bad that happened. Take cues from them. I know with my S.I.L., she prefered to talk about it and appreciated when people didn't "avoid the subject." Maybe not everyone is that way though. It's so hard but bottom line, as long as whatever you do comes from your heart and with the intention of helping this family, it will be the right thing.
With my S.I.L., I send her a card each year on the baby's birthday(also the day he died) and write a little note at Christmas remembering him and also making a donation to charity in his name. I know that would probably be a bit much for you since you're not close friends with them. I think this is important to my S.I.L. that the baby not be forgotten.
I hope this helped-it's such a sad situation. You're sweet to care.
I just read Mary C's response...I think it is a GREAT idea to send another card after awhile.

1 mom found this helpful

Couple of ideas:

contact the local library of the family and offer to make a donation to the children's Department.

Morton Arboretum or local park district for funds to go towards trees

contact the local NICU unit to contribute to an existing fund or begin a new fund in the child's name

organize a neighborhood effort to make dinners for the family

Make A Wish foundation is a nice all encompassing organization that serves the needs of children suffering from a variety of ailments

As a neighborhood we collected money and gave a gift cert to a lanscaping company to plant a tree in memory. The family reallly appreciated this and spoke highly of it. Also, we purchased an "angel" ring in the birthstone of the child for the mother which she always wears. Hope that helps.

I had a stillborn infant son six years ago. The pain is excruciating but the Lord carried me through that time and I have my days that I miss him so much especially at this time since it will be six years on Jan 2. I also had a hard emotional time with my last two pregnancies but thank the Lord my two babies made it. People please be sensitive for people in those situations. Anyway I want to give you this web site that will give you some resources that maybe you can give her. You choose. If that is what you like. There are no words except I love you, or I am thinking of you. or you are in my prayers. I appreciate you even taking the time to ask. It means alot to me even though you are not doing it for me but for her. You have no idea how big that really is of you. http://www.quietrefuge.com/home.cfm

HI H., it is so kind that you are even thinking of your neighbors loss that is th efirst step. You can bring by some refreshments or even dinner for them or a gift card for an eveing out. They need to spend some quality time out of their home It some times gives them constant reminders of their loss. Just let them know you are there. Also pray for their speedy healing.

H., The loss of a child is something that I can't imagine. If you want to do something other than just food; I've given a nice woven blanket with a saying embroidered on it with the childs name. It's something that they can hold on to; to remember....I know they aren't cheap so maybe a few of the neighbors can go in on it. Just an idea.......

Food is a good thing. Something else is a physical thing like a tree or a cement lamb, cement garden seat, cement angel from all the neighbors to celebrate the life of this child. Thanks for being such a thoughtful person who wants to help. I'm sure they will hear your heart.

The family will probably be overflowing with food initially. I think a card with a gift certificate enclosed...the gift card could be for a place that sells prepared food. In our neighborhood there is a Foodstuffs that sells already cooked items that are delicious. That way, later on when the food runs out, the family can just run out to get something on a night when preparing dinner is not at the top of the list. Also, you don't say whether there are any kids in the family, but if there are it would be nice to get something small for them. Nothing expensive and flashy (that might send the wrong signal)..something like a special set of markers and paper, or bubbles...just something to keep the kids busy and distracted.Its just important to do something!

I would do the meals and send then a card. One thing that is hard for any grieving person is that after a couple of months the cards tend to slow down and people go on with there live but for the griever it's still so hard. So maybe after a month or two i would send out another thinking of you card just to let them know their still on people's mind.

I was a librarian before kids. We would have families donate books in the name of the child who died. It was really touching that the books aged as the child would have. On a practical note, it might be deductable too. Ask the Human Resources person where to start.

My cousin lost her 2nd child to SIDS this summer. What helped them the most? After all the love and support, which is priceless, it was the wordless gift of an envelope of money. Even $25 helps. Most families are so strapped right now.
Another thing that was really touching: she occasionally had a housekeeper (like before holidays). This woman brought 4 of her friends and they cleaned the entire house and wouldn't take money. Perhaps a cleaning service pitched in with the neighbors that can come once or twice? They will have sooo many visitors, but who will clean?
It is sweet of you to care enough for someone who you don't even know.

My husband's friends lost their infant a couple of days ago, and while we don't live near them, I was thinking if we did, I would have liked to organize a meal schedule with other friends so that we could provide them with meals for the next week or so. I know that there are so many other things on their minds, but they still have to eat and if they have other children, they have to eat, too. If you know of a neighbor who knows them better, maybe you can ask that person to approach the family and ask if it would be okay for the neighbors to alternate on bringing food over for the next week or so. I know in my town when there has been an illness or a death in the family, we have brought dinner to the families or have alternated in driving the kids to school, etc. I'm sure that any gesture will be greatly appreciated during this hard time. You're so thoughtful to want to do something!

when one of the home daycare providers on a bulletin board had a miscarriage (at 4 mos gestation) we collected money and bought her a beautiful mother with child sculpture and we donated money to a fund that helps parents in these situations (something like the Angel Network don't remember the name). Later that same family lost another infant and we paid for a paving brick in a walkway near their house.

H., we are kind of in the same boat. Our long-term friends just lost their teen-age son in a terrible car accident 2 wks ago. It was devastating. even when you know someone, it is terrible in trying to think what you can do for them. We hugged them, spent time with them and just tried to be there for them. We haven't seen them since the funeral, but I have called and stopped by their house(missed them however). Since you don't know them well, perhaps a nice note expressing your condolences and the offer of help around the house, etc. Sometimes after all of the well-wishers are gone, a nice visit, a cup of coffee etc may be just what they need. Again, that hug and just letting someone know you care.

Our friends lost their daughter at 3 months and the neighborhood bought a tree and had amemorial stone plaque with her name and dates to go under the tree and had it placed in the neighborhood park for all to see as you pass into the park. Hope that helps.
J.

I would suggest something of a memorial... something permenet so all can see.. I love the idea of the tree in the park. A perfect place for kids to gather & for them to remember a child. Plus a tree continues to grow, as children should.
When my friends daughter passed, we donated to both the Ronald McDonald house in her name and the library she so loved! Our donation placed her name on a plaque that hangs in the library.
No matter what you do I think it's a really wonderful and loving gesture.
B. ox

Food is good. Offering support and meaning it, or setting aside a time to come drop off the food and 'just visit' is good too.

Some people want company, some people want privacy, but everyone wants to know you care. Make sure to make gestures to reach out, and to let them know as time goes on it's okay if they're not okay, and you're only a phone call away.

Someone I know was sent bulbs with a nice note that if planted they could commemorate a loss, and remind us each year of the beauty life can bring despite of the pains we suffer. I don't know all it said, but it was quite moving, and I know she planted them and sits with them when she is sad.

You're already doing a good job by trying to do something to help, and I'm sure they will remember your kindnesses.

I think a nice card and bring them a meal. I am close to many of my neigbors so I would arrange meals to be delivered regularly. God Bless.

I had the same situation this fall. I knew the woman from my workout group. When her child died, we took up a collection and donated it to the foundation for the disease her daughter had, in the childs name. She appreciated the fact that we were helping others with this disease while remembering her child. check the interent for foundations where a donation could be sent in the childs name and just tell her how sorry you are for her loss.

Take time to visit the mom. Even for half an hour. Just listen to her. She'll grieve for years if the child was full term. A miscarriage is a different story. It will be "gotton over" in a few months (but never forgotten). Stillborn 1st child is devastating! Other pregnancys will be stress filled and worrysome thruought. Bless you all for wanting to help her.

One of my neighbors made me a dinner when my baby was born... know the circumstances are very different but the idea is awesome. She cooked the whole meal and but it in a container that I could just heat it in... there was even sides and a salad with all the veggies cut up and put into different baggies to add to the salad later. Even dessert was made... what a great help... In the past I have done baskets of take out gift cards. Anything to help with the mundane things that may not seem important to them at the moment....

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