The friends and family members of those who have suffered the devastating loss of a baby often ask us what support they can offer their loved ones.
People may feel scared to bring up the death of a baby or young child and worried that they will upset their grieving loved ones. However, we find that many bereaved parents want to remember and talk about the child they have lost. Many find comfort in speaking their name and sharing special memories of the time they had together.
It can be hard to know what to say and there is no right or wrong where this is concerned. Often just acknowledging that someone special is missing, particularly on occasions such as birthdays and Christmas can help bereaved parents feel less alone in their grief.
How to support a loved one: advice from bereaved families
We asked bereaved families to share examples of something that someone said or did that helped them in the weeks, months and years after their baby died.
This is not meant to be a ‘to do’ list for supporting bereaved families, as everyone is different.
We hope that sharing these quotes gives an indication of how important the support offered by friends and families can be and how it can be remembered for many years to come.
“Always mention the child’s name.
“If you knew the child, talk about any memories you may have. Of course tears will be shed – but that is natural and nothing to be worried about. In fact it might be a temporary release and bring some relief to the bereaved.”
“Ask how the person feels THAT day.
“Grief comes in waves and every day is different.”
“Ask them if they want to talk
“…and be prepared to hear the same details again and again as this is a way of processing what happened.“
“Acknowledge and accept ALL feelings
“…that it is OK for the grieving person to cry in front of you, to get angry or to break down”
“If you genuinely do not know what to say, don’t hide how you feel.
“For example say, ‘I’m not sure what to say, but I want you to know I care’.”
“One friend said he didn’t know what to say other than that he loved us.
“This may not sound like very much but to us, it meant a lot.”
“Offer any practical help.
“‘Tell me what I can do for you’ – perhaps offering to help with other children, shopping, chores – all of which can seem too much for a while.”
“I had some brilliant friends who contacted Mum and my sisters.
“Between them, they made sure I was never on my own. They all made themselves available for me anytime I needed.”