For Family and Friends

Many people have told me they want to help but don't know what to do. This page is a starting point for you as you support your friend/family member facing their worst nightmare. Thank you for wanted to help. It means a lot to know someone cares.

Please take a moment to read this article. It's perfect for family and friends who want to help

*Keep in mind everyone is different, so the very best thing you can do is just ask, "How can I help?" or "What can I do for you today?"

In the very first weeks, what's needed most is love and food and basic necessities.

Bring healthy meals
Do laundry
Sweep, mop, vacuum and dust
Mow the lawn/shovel
Cry with them
Speak their baby(ies) names
Give gifts of money
Bring gifts of everyday essential items so they don't have to get out. (Toilet paper, laundry soap, hand soaps, deodorant,  toothpaste, paper towels, milk, eggs, bread, etc).
Be available but don't be offended if they just want to be alone
If they have other children, offer to take sit with them. 

When you talk with them, please, please, please don't try to offer any ideas of why this happened. You can not possibly know. You may believe God's will is being done. Saying so is extremely hurtful to a family that feels it simply cannot be. (No loving God would do his will through something so devastating and life-shattering as the death of a precious baby.) Please keep your opinions to yourself. They will not help. Your job is to love them as they walk this path of immense pain and grief.

Every person will go through this experience differently. There is no "right" way to grieve. Please don't ever push them to "get over it" or "move on". The intense pain may last for years and the loss will last a lifetime.

The very best thing you can do is close your mouth and open your ears and arms (and, let's be honest, your wallet. There will be tons of expenses from hospital bills, funeral arrangements and loss of income).

Don't try to explain what's happening. Just tell them how sorry you are and that you care. Let them cry to you and tell you all about their very loved baby.

Do things for the baby. Give gifts that honor the baby. Show the family how much you love them and their sweet little one. Say the baby(ies) name whenever you can. This is a loved member of their family, even if you haven't met them yet.

Send them special cards to let them know you're thinking of their baby(ies). 

Read this book. When Your Friend's Baby Dies, by Kristine McCormick.

Remember special dates.

Send texts and emails, just to say you're thinking of them and missing their baby(ies) too. 

Read these articles, and find many more on Google:


Follow these basic guidelines (Written by facilitators and bereaved parents who are members of GRACE Support Rights Missing GRACE Foundation):

HURTFUL (don't do these things)
"He/She is in a better place." The parents feel their loving home was a very good place to raise their child and their arms are aching for their baby now.
"It's God's will." Many bereaved parents hold the belief it was not God's will to have their baby die and they feel it's a tragedy that happened in a world where bad things can happen to good people and feel God did not cause it to happen. To say it is God's will may also imply this is God's judgment on the parents.
"God has a plan and it was His perfect plan for this to happen. All things work together for his good." Right now, the situation is not good and it is hard to see that good things could come of this tragedy. Let them discover on their own the blessings that may come over time.
"At least you have other children." The child they lost still had a special place in their life and is gone now and no other child can replace or fill that void.
"At least it wasn't a 'real' baby." (in reference to ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage)
"At least you weren't that far along." The moment they found out they were pregnant with that baby they began to love it, and they wish they had been able to get farther along to deliver their baby.
"At least you didn't get attached." Oh, but they were very attached.
"If it's not perfect, you don't want it." The parent felt their baby was perfect and no matter what health issue it had, they wanted the baby in their lives.
"It's not meant to be."
"Everything happens for a reason." Right now it is hard to make sense of this and find a good reason.
"You can have another one." Maybe they can, but maybe due to issues you are unaware of or they are unaware of they can't have another. Either way that sounds a long way off and it doesn't help now.
To ignore what happened and not say anything at all. To act like things are normal/fine.
"If your baby lived, then maybe he/she would have been bad or unhealthy so God took him/her."
Calling the baby "it." Not referring to the baby by his or her name.
Bringing up the loss of a pet or someone else's death as if to say it is a similar type of pain or experience. Each situation is unique and the grief is personal.
Expressing an attitude that parents should be over their loss by a set time. Bereaved parents don't get over their babies. They take steps forward in grief and find ways to carry on the memory of their child. They have a need to honor and remember their baby throughout life. Life after loss often requires finding a new normal. Strangers can become friends and friends can become strangers. The length of the grieving process is different for everyone.

HELPFUL (do these things)
To say: "I don't know what to say, but I'm so sorry. We are thinking of you and praying.
To acknowledge your own ignorance.
To send cards or forms of acknowledgment on anniversaries and/or out of the blue.
To give delayed acknowledgment vs. none at all.
To say their baby's name and talk about their baby.
To share that you are going to honor and commemorate their baby in some way.
To provide opportunities for parents to talk about their baby and their feelings.
To leave the door open for the parents to join you for events such as parties and showers but not pressure them or guilt them when they decline. Support them in their decisions.
Bring up your own infant loss if you have had one and be available to discuss your pain.
Offer to help them in daily life through the months after a loss: bring meals, clean house, watch other living children, giving the parents a chance to be alone, mow the lawn, shovel snow, run errands, send them for a massage or pampering.


Anonymous said...

Our son and daughter-in-law are expecting their first baby, our first grandchild, at the beginning of October. The baby has a fatal diagnosis plus severe heart problems and will not survive long after birth, if that. I would like to be in touch with others in a similar position,


Unknown said...

Jane my graddaughter has a fatal diagnosis she had potter's syndrome aka BRA. amounts to no kidneys which means no fluid so the kings don't grow like they should. She lives almost 5 wonderful hours. Please feel free to add me on Facebook or Google +

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