How to Help Friends Who Lost Baby

Updated on July 05, 2011
L.D. asks from Dallas, TX
22 answers

I just found out that my friend lost her baby in her tenth month of pregnancy. Baby L. was due next week. I know to offer help watching her other kids, bring food, tell her I love her, and offer any other help. I know NOT to say, "well, you could have another..."

My question is this -"What can I say or do that will help in any way whatsoever? What should I definitely NOT say or do?

What can I do next?

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So What Happened?

Thank you all so much for your suggestions. I think I did pretty well of avoiding cliches, etc. and of allowing my friend to talk and cry and me just listen and hug. I DEFINITELY get that she doesnt want another baby, she wanted THIS baby and I definitely get that so many things people say to moms in this situation minimize the baby they lost. Also, it is an especially hard loss, because unlike other deaths, there are not memories to treasure (or very few) - just all those hopes and questions (what will she be like?!) that you will never find out the answer to.

Thank you once again, especially those of you who sadly have experienced this, for sharing.

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answers from Beaumont on

I also lost a baby. The worst thing you could do is not to let her talk about it. Everyone did kind things for me but not one would just hold me so I could cry. Let her talk....

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

Did she tell you, or did you find out from someone else????

If she did not tell you, then I would not, propose or initiate anything.

I had a miscarriage once.
I personally, did NOT WANT anyone, even close friends, to bother me.
It was between me and my Husband.
Nothing anyone told me, 'changed' the situation.

This is a very personal thing.

Again, did she tell you or did someone else?

all the best,

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Washington DC on

You are VERY sweet to do this!!! I think you already have it right.....

When I lost Alexis - I can tell you that there was NOTHING you could say or do that would make the pain go away - I know that's not your intention - however, if you just let her know you are THERE for her - hug her...tell her you are a phone call away...

DO NOT remind her of the loss. Just ask "how are you today?" maybe feel up to going for lunch?

When you lose a baby far along - the pain is horrid - I know it never really goes away - it just kinda sinks in your heart after awhile -you NEVER's been 6 years 4 months for me... I can still cry about it...thinking of her loss brings up my loss and I totally feel for her.

It might suck when her milk comes in - if it does - and there's no baby there to take it. That was killer for me. Another reminder of the loss. I didn't want flowers either as the flowers died - it's all psycho-somatic - every one is different and every one handles grief differently....I needed to scream at one point - I was TRULY mad at God - I cried...I laughed at the most inappropriate times because I couldn't cry again....urgh...does any of this make sense to you? If not - I'm sorry - I'm trying to help - it will be a crazy time for her. She will be in my thoughts and prayers.

11 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

I lost a baby at 7 1/2 months to ecoli poisoning.
The WORST thing anyone can do is try and change the subject when someone wants to talk about it. I hated the fact that people tried to act "cheery" and change the subject when I needed to cry and vent. And I'll never forget that my mom and a friend wanted to makeup on me in the hospital! you've GOT to be kidding! They meant well, but c'mon. The last thing I could care less about is makeup after I lost a baby, and was sick
The best thing you can do is just love on her, ask if you can do anything, and let her talk...She will lead the way :-)

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

I recommend you get her a book on infant loss. Read the book yourself before you give it to her. This will give you a much better perspective on what she is going through and what to say and not to say. Tell her you read the book. Your interest in trying to understand her grief will most likely mean a lot to her. Don't expect anything from her in the coming months. Trying to decide what to eat, wear and do will be probably be overwhelming to her so anything you can do to make even little decisions maybe appreciated although you know your friend best. My son died when he was 17 days old and I can not tell you how I still, 10 years later, appreciate the people that remember the date with a quick e-mail, card or phone call.
Prayers to your friend.
The following is a book I recommend

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

A friend of mine just blogged about this on the one year anniversary of losing her baby. Here is her post....

The Three Most Common Miscarriage “Condolences”: And Why They Should Never Cross Your Lips

My recent post expressing my feelings on the day that would have been our first baby’s first birthday sparked comments on my Facebook page that made me feel something needs to be said about how friends and family tend to attempt to console grieving parents after a miscarriage. I thought I was the only one who ran into these… misguided comments, but I was sadly wrong and have finally found the voice to express why you should NEVER say the following to a parent who has just had a miscarriage:

1. “It will get better with time.”

No, it won’t. There will never be a day where the parents will wake up and suddenly feel like the death of their unborn baby was no big deal. The old saying that “time heals all wounds” is a crock. Time does heal some wounds, but others repeatedly, unexpectedly burst open at random times and have to be nursed all over again. Death- whether miscarriage related or otherwise- is one of those times. It is never going to get any easier; they will just get better at coping with and managing their grief over time. Memories that would have been will shift from unbearably painful to bitter-sweet, but it will never get better. Implying otherwise is cruel and makes the parents unjustly feel like something is wrong with them when a year, five, ten, fifty years down the line they still haven’t “gotten over” the loss of their baby.

2. “Don’t worry, my <fill in the blank> had <number> miscarriages, but now she has <number> kids.”

Translated: “Don’t worry, you may only have to go through this heart-shattering experience a few more times before it actually takes.”

I think that’s enough said on that one.

3. “At least you still have your <fill in the blank>.”

Imagine this with me: Your father has just died. His death was sudden, unexpected, unexplained, and unavoidable. Shock and grief have overtaken you. You remember the times he took you fishing, taught you how to drive, walked you down the isle at your wedding, kept you on the phone discussing the ways you could change the world, and remembering these and a million more moments rips your heart into microscopic pieces. Everything you see around you reminds you of him- the toaster he bought for your first apartment, the book he gave you that you never read, the man on TV that sort-of has his haircut- and you’re not certain if you are going to be able to make it through the next second, much less the next minute, hour, day, month. You call your best friend and tell them what has happened. And their response to you is, “At least you still have your mother.”

Now, imagine this with me: Your unborn baby has just died. Their death was sudden, unexpected, unexplained, and unavoidable. Shock and grief have overtaken you. Except now you have no memories to remember because your baby never had a chance to make any. Instead you are left with empty dreams and a million different things that could have been- would they have been a boy or a girl, would he have loved baseball, would she have become the first female president, would he have snuck out to see his girlfriend at night, would you have walked her down the isle at her wedding- and imagining these possibilities and realizing they are never to be rips your heart into a million microscopic pieces. Everything around you reminds you of them- the baby blanket you bought when you found out you were pregnant, the room you were going to transform into the nursery, the two-year-old on TV- and you’re not certain if you are going to be able to make it through the next second, much less the next minute, hour, day, month. You call your best friend and tell them what has happened. And their response to you is, “At least you still have your other daughter.”

I am willing to bet that in the first scenario it was clear to everyone that responding with “At least you still have your mother.” was not only unhelpful but inappropriate. Why, then, do so many people think that responding with “At least you still have your other child.” is an appropriate form of condolence when a friend has lost their unborn child? Yes, I suppose it is true that it is a good thing that both/all their children didn’t die, but how is pointing that fact out helpful in any way? It isn’t. All it does is tell the grieving parent that the speaker believes they have no right to grieve. In the parents’ minds it basically translates into, “It could be worse, so you should stop being so sad about it.”

This list could have been much longer. I chose these three statements simply to demonstrate a point. While they are never said with any sort of malice behind them- everyone who said the first two to me was genuinely trying to help- statements like these don’t make the loss any easier to handle. In fact, though the grieving parents may not say so at the time, they often make it worse. The sad and frustrating truth is that there is nothing you can say to make their miscarriage any easier. If you must say something, “I’m so sorry. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help you.” would be a better option than trying to “fix” the situation. The best thing you can do is just be supportive and listen when (or if) they feel like talking about it.

Chances are that’s all your friend is looking for anyway.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dayton on

What not to least you have other're young you will have another baby.....if there's anything I can do, just let me know...

What to do..offer to take her children for a few hours so she can have alone time, take kid friendly meals, take paper plates, napkins, etc. so there's little clean up, offer to take her out to a restaurant and keep the conversation light - let her initiate the conversation, she'll have times when she wants to talk about it...and times when she won't..let her decide.

Follow up...there will be family and friends there for her in the beginning..but they'll get back to their own lives in the days/weeks the months ahead she'll have many lows and will appreciate those who don't "forget"

Your friend will be always remember your kindness.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Oh my god this so sad, my heart is breaking for your friend. I've been told that the best way to help is not to ask, just to be there and make decisions as to what needs to be a way that's not too overwhelming for her...aka bring food then leave after a few minutes. Offer to take her other kids out for a trip to the zoo or lunch or whatever and if she's hesitant, don't push. She might not be able to bear being away from her other children right now, OR she might really need that...everyone grieves in different ways. In terms of what to say...there's nothing to say. You can only be there when she's ready to talk. You sound like a great friend, and that's priceless in a moment like this.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

The best thing to do is just to listen to anything she wants to talk about. She may not want to talk about the loss at all right now. This is OK. It takes time to process everything.
When offering help be specific..which would you like help with laundry or dishes? Don't make an open ended question of what would you like me to help with, it will most likely be answered with I don't know.
It's the worse thing to see your friend go through. I was there for a friend that lost a baby during childbirth and one that had a late pregnancy loss. The worst for me what my friend that lost her baby in childbirth, I was 3 states away.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Some people are thin-skinned; others are not. I would not have been offended by many of the comments that some have listed as verboten. My son was stillborn nearly 20 years ago. You never forget, but it does get better. There were only 2 things said to me that raised my hackles. When I returned to work, a co-worker said, "what a waste to go through the whole 9 months of pregnancy for nothing." The other came from my husband. We had gone to a neonatal death support group. Later, at a PTA meeting for an older child, the teacher started to say something and interrupted herself with, "but maybe you're not comfortable talking about it." I responded that no, I appreciated her comments and it helped to talk. My husband inserted, "yeah, that's what they told her at the support group." I could have killed him. I couldn't believe he could be so insensitive. Other than that, I just accepted that people were trying their best, and it was difficult.

I found talking with friends, especially those who had also lost a child, much better than talking with strangers at a support group. Support groups have their place and help many; it just didn't work for me.

My child is buried in the "Babyland" section of a nearby cemetery. It has always given me great comfort to stand among all the little graves and know that I am not alone, that many other mothers have stood in this place and grieved for their babies. I don't know if that will be the case for your friend, but after some time has passed, you might ask if she feels like visiting the grave or if you could go with her to visit the grave or however it seems right to put it.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Oh my, this is so very sad. I can't stop thinking about this (I read it a while before I was able to respond). These amazing women who have experienced such loss and have gone on are awe-inspiring. I have been going through IVF treatments for a little under a year now with no success, and while embryos don't compare to a baby who could have lived outside the womb (in my opinion), I have learned a few things along the way that might help you.

Do not say:
- Something must have been wrong (with the baby or with your friend) and this was nature's way of taking care of it
- Appreciate the kids you already have
- Maybe it isn't meant to be
- I wish I could say something that would help fix this
- This will make you stronger in the end
(Sadly, all things I have been told by well-intentioned people who don't realize they want to fix it so they don't have to be uncomfortable with my pain.)

Do say:
- I am here for you to listen/whatever you need me to do...
- Just sympathize with her and acknowledge/validate her feelings. Don't try to talk her out of them or tell her she will eventually recover. She doesn't want to know that right now, even if she hopes it's true.
- When some time has passed, and you feel it might be appropriate, refer her to a grief/loss support group. People who truly understand what she is going through will help the healing process along.

You are a really good friend to ask these tough questions. It's okay for YOU to not know what to say or do. Friends don't have to have the answers for friends going through loss, they just need to be there without judgment. You will gauge when to pull back and when to check in with her. Good luck... this is so hard.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Aside from the obvious, meals, driving kid to and from activities, etc., just
be there for her. You do not need to say anything just hold her when she
cries. Let her talk. Be a good listener. At this point there is nothing you can
say to ease her pain.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Redding on

So sorry to hear this, What a shame, so sad for them all. She was so far along that she probably had to go thru a labor and delivery so her body has done all the hard work and her emotions are taking over now. She needs the same physical help any other M. who just delivered would need. And shes feeling the terrible emptiness without the baby. She will need meals, and the house cleaned a bit, laundry done. Take her light foods and offer to feed the kids. Just let her talk, or cry, and hug her. Dont tell her you understand, or know how she feels,, you dont unless youve gone thru it yourself. I lost 3 pregancies, but they were so early on that even I cant imagine what shes going thru. As much as it still was the loss of a child, it has to be so much worse when youve gone so far and then its over. Just give her time, and be gentle with her, and the other kids. They might not understand either and will say awkward things without knowing they upset their M..

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

How heartbreaking. Do you live near her? If so, you could coordinate with all of the other people who want to help by scheduling meal drop-offs, babysitting, lawn mowing, etc so that she doesn't have to think about it.

When my sister lost her daughter at 39 weeks, one of the things that her mother-in-law did for her was go door to door in her neighborhood to tell her neighbors the news. She knew that people would soon be asking where the baby is, and it was easier if someone else broke the news to them so that my sister didn't have to.

Sounds like all of the previous posters gave great advice, so I have nothing more to add but my sincere condolences.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

We were set to adopt last month and our precious daughter was stillborn. We were absolutely devestated.
No one knows what to say. WE didn't know what to say. It sucks.
Please do not "well, it was just God's plan" or "at least it happened now instead of after she was born", both of which were said to us.
Just be there for them. Send them a card, let them know this sucks and you love them and you are here. Someone got us a little statue of an angel holding a baby, which was wonderful.
It's going to take time, and the healing is going to be different than anything they have experienced. They are parents without a child. It is difficult.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

There really are no words of comfort right now, so just be honest with her and tell her that you are sorry and you have no words for her loss. She is going to go through so many emotions and the best thing I think you can do is just check on her daily, send food, ask her if she would like you to grocery shop, do laundry, if she has other children take them out to give her time to grieve. I had a miscarriage my first pregnancy and so many people said the wrong things (I know their intensions were good) but nothing anyone said could take away that pain. She will remember you were there for her and the good friend you are. I think listening is better for her now then saying anything. She is probably going to have to make arrangements for the baby and that is something you can offer to help with as well. My heart breaks for her, she is in my prayers.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

I believe that the best thing you can do is be there for them. Listen to them and let them talk .Don't ignore that their baby was here and has past. Do not pretend it didn't happen and don't try and make it better either. Just simply be there for them. It is a horrible what happened. This is what I have gotten from some baby loss moms on what they need and would like. :-) I am sure she appreciates your thoughts and a ear to lend when she needs to vent.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Definately don't say anything stupid, b/c it won't help. Just tell her how incredibly sorry you are for her loss and offer to watch her other kids from time to time so she can be by herself and grieve. And, let her know you are always there for her.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Sorry to hear about the news of your friend. I know you are grieving with her and her family. is a local DFW organization for parents who have lost a child through miscarriage, stillbirth or after birth. You might check into this group and pass on this information to your friend.

That is so nice of you to want to help. Everyone grieves differently, so you may have to take cues from her as to what she wants or needs. And this loss doesn't just go away in a few months which is why I passed on the information on the support group.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Hello. Our close friends lost thier son at 40 weeks, during labor. After that I became a bereavement specialist at the ER I work in so I could help others. Whatever you do DO NOT say things like you can have another, god needed another angel, at least she passed before you could really get attached to her... (people say the craziest things when they are trying to help). Tell her you are sorry and you love her (if y'all are that close) or that you are there for her. Acknowledge the baby, call her by her name. People will be reluctant to talk about the baby, they think it will cause the parents more pain. In actuality it hurts worse when no one talks about her. She was alive, she was a part of their family and she deserves to be acknowledged. As far as them being able to have another...they cant think that far yet. They dont want another baby, they want their little girl. Telling them they can have another is (not intentionally) ignoring the baby that just passed. "I am very sorry" is the safest way to go. Making food is very helpful as well as just being a shoulder to lean on. You are obviously a good friend, they are lucky to have you.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

When she's ready, direct her to the website I have heard it can be very helpful for people dealing with the loss of a child, whether through miscarriage, death of an infant, termination due to medical abnormalities, etc. Faces of Loss also has a good section on how to support someone who has just lost a baby (click on Friends and Family).

I'm so sorry for your friend.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

10th month of pregnancy? What do you mean?


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