When a friend or family member go through the loss of a pregnancy or a baby, others may not know what to say or do.
There are no magic words to take away the pain of the loss. Tell them you’re sorry for their loss, and ask what you can do to help. Usually it helps to just listen and be around in case you’re needed. Acknowledge the baby and what the baby meant to the parents. If the baby was named, call the baby by name. Be open and let the grieving parents tell you what they need. Give them time to cope with their grief—there’s no time limit for grief.
Grief is different for everyone and everyone copes in a different way. It may take a long time before parents can go to family gatherings, social events, celebrations, or be around other babies.
Grief around holidays or the anniversary date of the loss can be hard. Parents often find their own unique, important way to remember the baby over their lifetime. Show your support by helping with ways to remember. Send cards or mementos on special occasions.
What to say
- I’m sorry for your loss.
- How can I help right now?
- I’m here to listen and help support you.
- Say things about the baby (for example, special features or feelings during pregnancy).
What not to say
- You’re lucky you have (or can have) other children.
- It’s meant to be, it was part of life’s plan.
- You didn’t have time to get to know the baby.
- You need to move on.
- Don’t cry and don’t be sad.
- When’s a good time to visit? (Don’t ask them to call you, call them.)
- I’ll pray for you (unless the family asked you to).
- The baby is with the angels now. (Don’t talk about God and angels unless you know for sure that this would bring comfort.)
How to help
Ask your friend or family member what would help and what they want. Try not to take over. Parents need to be in control. Here are some ideas of how you can help:
- Prepare meals, help with housework, or organize others to help at different times.
- Let others know about the loss if the parents ask you to.
- Offer rides to and from appointments.
- Help with funeral arrangements and go to the funeral or memorial service.
- Help with ways to remember the baby. For example, write a poem or letter, give a special memento like ornaments, jewelry, art, or ceramics.
- Offer to look after other children.
Watch for signs of depression like ongoing sleep problems, changes in appetite or activities, blaming, feeling guilty, or having thoughts about suicide. If you notice any of these signs, encourage them to seek professional help right away.