- Dominate the conversation
- Use clichés
- Pass judgment
- Avoid them because this makes YOU uncomfortable
- Give advice
- Share your story unless asked to by the parents
- Talk only with the mothers (include fathers and other family members)
- Refrain from asking about the baby or how they are doing because you are afraid it will make them cry or upset them
- Wait for them to call you when they need something
- Discard or move baby items items in the nursery/home of the parents unless they ask you to do so
Some of these sentiments may be comforting to you think you would find them comforting if someone said them to you. But many parents report that these types of sentiments often do not provide comfort at this time.
What's Helpful to Say...
- I’m sorry
- I don’t know what to say
- I don’t know how you feel but I want to try to help if I can
- This must be so hard for you; I can’t imagine what you are feeling
- It isn’t fair
- I’m so sad for you
- I understand…that you are angry, that you are hurt, that you feel guilty
- It’s okay to cry
- What do you need right now?
- How are you? (And don't take "Fine" as an answer. And then really listen to the answer.)
- I am here. I want to listen.
- Tell me how I can help. (offer specific suggestions such as doing laundry, preparing meals, caring for other children or pets, running errands, etc.)
- Tell me about…the delivery, the time with your baby, the funeral, what you miss the most
- Listen more than you talk
- Allow for silence
- Refer to the baby by name
What's we recommend NOT saying...
- I know how you feel
- He (or she) is in a better place
- You need to move on, get on with your life
- You need closure
- Things happen for a reason
- She/he will no longer be in pain
- You are so strong
- Count your blessings
- Luckily, you have other children
- Don’t cry
- You shouldn’t feel like that
"You’re young, you can have other babies."
Age is irrelevant. We wanted THIS baby. Even if we do go on to have other children, this baby will always be loved and missed. Babies are not replaceable. We must mourn for this baby before we can consider having another.
Examples (that we don't recommend)
References to God
Many parents would rather have their babies with them, so even Heaven, a perfect place with no pain and suffering, may not seem comforting at this time. This may be comforting for some parents, but many are struggling with their feelings towards God right now.
What could the "reason" be?
It's very hard to believe that there is a reason good enough for this to happen. Parents may go on to make meaning of the loss, but most would prefer to have their babies with them rather than "learn a lesson." Well-intended explanations do not ease the pain of the loss. It is hard to apply "reason" to such a tragedy. Knowing that something was wrong does NOT mean that parents love or miss their baby any less.
Things You Can Offer to Do
- Include both the mother and the father and include other family members
- Ask what you can pick up at the grocery store
- Offer to babysit their other children
- State a specific time/date you will check on them and then do so
- Light a candle in memory of the baby
- Call on the baby's birthday or the anniversary of the loss
- Respect the parents' right to express how they feel regardless of how strange or unusual it sounds to you.
- Acknowledge parents as PARENTS because that is what they are even though their baby is not with them.
- Offer to drive them to the hospital, to doctor's appointments, to the funeral home, etc.
- Let parents make their own decisions even if you do not understand or agree with them
- Offer to help with arrangements or meals
- Attend the funeral or memorial service