Have You Lost a Child to SIDS?

Updated on September 29, 2015
D.D. asks from Goodyear, AZ
14 answers

My friend from college (families are friends too) just lost her little baby to SIDS (third son). I just saw them in the store a week ago. I was able to love on the baby a little bit and wish her and her husband congratulations. She has not gone home, stays at her parents home. She has not planned the funeral. Her husband and family are doing it. They have two other boys that stay with dad. What do you say?

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So What Happened?

Just found out this morning that the friend is now half way through another pregnancy. She had three boys, now two. She just found out that the baby is a girl. I am so happy for her. Praying that everything goes well for this family.

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answers from Philadelphia on

Not SIDS but my son died when he was 17 days old. It is devastating.

I can understand why she might be unable to go back to the house where he passed away. Seeing his crib and other baby stuff would be overwhelming.

Perhaps you could ask her what she needs and offer suggestion. (Babysitting, cleaning, meal prep etc)

5 moms found this helpful

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answers from Boston on

Oh how heartbreaking. This hasn't happened to me. What I would do is reach out to her parents and husband if you know them well enough. Ask her parents if she is up for visitors and if she is, just go and sit and cry with her, and tell her you're sorry. That's all you can say, really. If her husband is taking phone calls or e-mails, ask him if there is anything practical that you can help him with right now. He might be overwhelmed with family support today (a good thing) but check back in with him periodically (several times maybe 7-10 days apart) and keep asking. As his family starts to get back to their lives, he may need help with childcare, meals, etc.

I used to read a blog called gorillabuns because the writer is hilarious. One of her babies died of SIDS and it was gut wrenching to continue to read her blog as she was (and years later still is) incredibly honest in laying bare her feelings. They were raw and ugly. I felt like a voyeur reading her blog but I had been a reader through the fun stuff and felt that I shouldn't stop reading just because she went through something terrible. Anyway...it gave me such an appreciation for how devastating, awful, true heartbreak looks in real life.

Your friend will need support over the years. I think the general wisdom is to help a parent who has experienced a loss not think that their child is forgotten. There is a great company called The Comfort Company that makes gifts for grieving. You may want to pick out something from there and have it delivered at some point in the future. A friend had a second-trimester pregnancy loss and I sent her a vase with a poem on it that years later she says is still one of her favorite things.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Sometimes it's not what a friend says but what they do. There are other ways to show condolences, care and love.

It sounds like you might be kinda close or at the very least more than good friends? If the social situation allows it you could offer babysitting the two other boys. Dad could probably use some prepared healthy meals so he doesn't have to cook or grab fast food or whatever. There might be some errands to run too. I would suggest thinking beyond words.

Maybe you could seek out helpful actions that say what you want to say without saying anything at all.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

not the same thing but I'll always remember the sweet friend who came to my house to just be with me and cry with me when I had a miscarriage. Why don't you go and just sit and cry with her (don't say much except I'm so sorry). I can't not imagine the loss of a baby

4 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

Your information sounds gossipy, I mean like it didn't come directly from the family but someone saying did you know?? I can't believe she won't go home, her poor husband....

If this is not someone you know well enough that they spoke to you, either mom or dad, then stay out of it. I can't imagine losing a child like this and then have someone come up reacting to gossip that may just be a huge exaggeration of the truth, that would be worse.

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answers from Boston on

You say that you are so sorry that this happened to her family. You say that her son was beautiful. You say that this is so unbelievable and unfair. You say that you will keep her family in her thoughts and prayers.

You don't say that its God's plan. You don't say that he's in a better place now. You don't say that she has a guardian angel looking over her family now. You don't say you know how she feels. These things are hurtful and minimize their loss.

If you are close to the family then call the hubby and help with the boys. See if there's anything you can do to help with the funeral. And please make an effort to be there in the months to come. People step forward at the beginning and then stop after a couple weeks. Your friend is going to need support for a long time as she copes with the loss of this child.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

I have not experienced this but would assume there really isn't anything "right" to say. I would just tell her you are so sorry and will be there if she needs anything...and mean it. I think saying nothing is SOOOOO much worse...my husband and I went through something awful and noticed more the people that said NOTHING than those who maybe didn't know the "right" thing to say. We mentioned this to a friend who had lost a child shortly after birth...I think she had a medical issue and only lived a few weeks...but he said the same. It was awful knowing that people KNEW what they were going through and because they didn't know WHAT to say, just didn't say anything. So saying that you don't know what to say but you're sorry this happened is better than saying nothing at all. JMO. Good luck.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

A family in my son's preschool lost a daughter to SIDS. I can understand why your friend can't go back to that house with the crib and the baby things - the painful absence must be horrible. My friend couldn't sleep in her bed ever again (the baby died in that bed) and she had to sell the house eventually. In fact, although she had 2 additional children (in addition to the oldest child - the SIDS baby was child #2), she and her husband divorced because they couldn't take the strain.

I can understand why she can't plan the funeral - it makes it real. She's still reeling, she may still be hormonal from pregnancy (not sure how old the baby was), and her entire world has been turned upside down.

It must be awful for the husband too, and the 2 other children. The whole fabric of the family has been shredded. No doubt your friend feels awful trying to mother the other 2 boys when her 3rd has been deprived of that. But it does put a huge burden on the husband too.

Hopefully her family will nurture and support her, help her grieve, help her say the most horrible painful goodbye anyone could imagine, and help her get counseling when the time is right.

What do you say? There's nothing you CAN say? There will be a flurry of cards and meals offered, more than needed, and then those efforts will fade away and she will be left with reality. That might be a good time to step in - when everyone else goes back to their normal lives, it's often harder to be alone. For now, if you know the other boys, offer to babysit or take them to the park or the children's museum, so that the parents (or the dad alone) can deal with arrangements. There may come a time when it will be right to pack up the baby things and either put them away in storage or perhaps donate them - but don't push her to make any decisions about that. What you should NOT say is stuff like "It's for the best" or "You can have another child when you're ready" or "Everything happens for a reason" or "God must have wanted another angel." These things are absolutely devastating and beyond cruel.

Just remember that there is no timetable on grief. This is going to take a very long time and she'll never really be "over it", just able to function. One day she will find joy again, but she can't be urged or pushed to do so.

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answers from Dallas on

I don't understand the living situation. They are married and this baby was #3? I assume she can't bring herself to go home right now?

I'm very sorry about this and I will admit that SIDS was always in the back of my mind when my daughter was a baby.

I can't imagine the heartbreak or what to say. She's probably in a state of shock and needs support from everyone.

I'm so sorry. I would be speechless with what to say other than I'm so sorry.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

eta: No, I have not lost a child to SIDS, however, I have had 3 miscarriages - and one at 22 weeks - and I had friends who came over to be with me.


What is your question?

It's like you are judging with W. for not being at home or planning her son's funeral. EXCUSE ME?!?! She's LOST AN INFANT!!! If you have NEVER lost a child, you can't imagine the grief she is going through.

What do you say to her? You tell her how sorry you are. You tell her if there's anything she needs - call you - and ONLY say that if you mean it. Not the perfunctory - "i'm sorry for your loss, let me know if you need anything." and when they do call? you're busy. No.

This W. has suffered a profound loss. if you are a FRIEND - you go to her and hug her. You BE THERE for her. You do NOT judge her on whether or not she's going home or planning a funeral. YOU GET YOUR BUTT OVER TO HER AND BE A FRIEND - comfort her, BE THERE...

As to her other children? You love them too. They all suffered a loss. Don't judge - BE A FRIEND!!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

Viola, I don't understand the question "What do you say?". What does that mean? Is it a survey?

This is tragic. The poor mom is going through hell. Are you upset that she left her other boys with her husband and hasn't gone home, if that's what you mean by "stay with dad"?

It seems like you're passing judgment on her. I hope I'm understanding your post wrong. It's wrong if you are passing judgement on her. If you want to help, cook some food for the husband and boys. Go hold her hand and just sit with her and don't talk much. When she does go home, go over and run the vacuum for her and wash a load of clothes. She's going through a really private hell right now and needs understanding.

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answers from Washington DC on

no, but it happened to my SIL. my husband, who was a teenager at the time, administered last rites to the baby. terrible. terrible for everyone.
and mind-breakingly terrible for the mother.
i'm not really sure where you're going with this, but i'm going to make the assumption that you're not being snotty about the fact that she's too devastated to cope.
there's no right thing to say. to the extent you can and that she'll permit it, you take care of practical matters such as food for the funeral and taking the other boys if they need a break from the oppressive atmosphere of grief. and you be there for her if she wants companionship, and give her space if she doesn't. it can be hard to gauge and she may not be able to tell you herself.
it's difficult.
you have to take your cues from her.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

What do you say is in regards as to what do you say to this mom that is in hell, what do you say to the siblings, to the dad, what do you say means "I'm so sorry for your loss" is a meaningless phrase that is often something the family gets tired of hearing over and over and over. What do you say Means "What do you say to this friend that is going through something so horrible that you can't understand what they're going through".


This is so hard. One of my best friends lost her grandson to SIDS. It's horrible for the family.

Not to be gross or mean, don't read this paragraph if you don't want to know what happens to that baby. The parents are suspect in that child's death. They send the baby off for an autopsy to see if there is ANY sign it was abused in any way. If there is a bruise on it's brain, if the neck looks like it's been hurt, if the baby was suffocated, etc...when it's little body comes back to the family, after they've been cleared of criminal suspicion, that baby comes home with staples or stitches holding the head together. They have to bury it with a hat one. They had to go in and look at it's brain and weigh it and check it thoroughly.

It's very very hard for the parents to go through all that and to see their little baby looking like that. The funeral home can only do so much.

Please know she might never be able to look at that child again. She might net be able to see her child in that condition. Can you really blame her? I can't. Th

My friend's grandson that passed at 5 weeks had RSV. They had taken the baby to the doc the day before because it was so sick. She nursed the baby and laid it down right by her leg to change the TV channel and her baby was gone. He took a breath and died.

There wasn't anything the ambulance could do either. They were there within 3 minutes.

As hard as you can imagine it being, it's a thousand times worse. Please let her handle this her way. If she is to the point of harming herself or something that bad then she needs to seen by her doc. It might not be a bad idea for her to do some antidepressants too. They'll help her cope but won't lessen the pain and grieving. They'll keep her safer while she mourns.

I'm so sorry for their loss and experience.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

I think the best thing to do is to write a note or an email and let her know that if you ever need her, you are there for her- just ask. Whatever and whenever. You might bring some food over to the dad (try something like a frozen lasagna so he can heat it in a week as opposed to eating it ASAP) with a similar note attached as he could very likely need some help too.

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