If you are a friend or family member of a couple who has recently lost a baby, here is a list of ways you can help:
1. Call them and let them know you are available to talk at any time. Say things like "When you're ready, I'd love to talk to you about your baby" or "I know there is nothing I can say, but I am here day or night if you ever want to talk."
2. Send a card with a heartfelt note. I love the "Lost for Words" card line sold here. Write a note that says how sorry you are, and how you are praying for their baby and for them. If you don't have their address and/or you want to send a note right away, you can send them an
3. Consider dropping off a homemade meal, or offer to clean their house. If you are close to the family, you can even offer to pack away baby items. (Just make sure to get their permission before putting away any baby items, as some couples prefer to have the items left out.)
4. Send gifts that honor their baby, such as a piece of jewelry with the baby's name engraved, a nice candle, or if you're crafty consider making something like a needlepoint of the baby's name and birth date.
5. Donate to a charity in honor of the baby. Consider charities that support bereaved parents or conduct research aimed at curing prenatal diseases.
6. If you are close to the bereaved family, you can offer to help them make funeral or memorial arrangements.
7. Do something in memory of the baby like plant a tree, release balloons or host a candle lighting ceremony. If the family cannot attend, consider taking a nice photo, and framing it for them.
8. If the family is religious, ask that a mass be said in the baby's honor. Most churches will give you a mass card that you can send to the family. Or think about purchasing a church candle for the baby that will stay lit for one year.
9. Offer to spread the news for them, especially if the loss of the baby was unexpected. Ask them for a list of people they would like you to contact and exactly what they would like you to say. Make sure to let other people know what is appropriate to say and send.
10. If they have other children, offer to babysit for a couple of days.
11. Do something good that you normally wouldn't do in honor of the baby. Participate in a walk for a good cause, donate time to a local charity or hospital, or anything else you feel inspired to do. Write a note to the family and say something like, "Today I signed up to volunteer making bereavement packages for my local hospital. I wanted you to know that your baby's precious life inspired me in so many ways to be a better person, and to help others."
Things to Keep in Mind
1. When a couple loses a baby, one of their fears is that the baby will be forgotten or not spoken about. Know that it's more than okay to say the baby's name and to remember him in special ways. Understand that the loss of a baby, even one lost to miscarriage or stillbirth, is still the loss of a special child. Consider marking the baby's birth date on your calendar and sending a card every year on that date reminding the family that you are thinking about them and their baby on this special day.
2. Don't make insensitive comments like, "It's going to get better", "Time heals all wounds", "I lost my mom, so I know how you feel", "At least you have your other children", and so on. Don't say anything that makes you sound like you understand how they feel, because unless you have lost a child, you don't. Understand that losing a baby is the worst experience in the world, and the couple is never going to fully recover. Losing a child is not like losing a parent, sibling or friend, so don't compare your losses to theirs. On the other hand, if you have experienced the loss of a baby or a child, consider sharing your story. Most couples feel like this is a lonely time because nobody else knows what it feels like. Your story may help them realize they're not alone and they have someone to turn to for support.
3. The only things really appropriate or sensitive to say are, "I'm keeping your baby and your family in my prayers", "I'm so sorry, I know there is nothing I can say or do, but I am here for you, if you need a shoulder to cry on", "What can I do to help?", "If you ever want to talk about how you feel, I am here".
4. Keep in mind that once you lose a baby, your world is permanently changed. There is no "moving on", "getting over it", "going back to normal". Yes, there is healing, adapting to a new normal, and life will ultimately go on. But grief, sadness and loss will forever be a part of that life. Everybody grieves and copes differently and it takes some people a lot longer than others to begin healing. Know that your friends may be sad for a very long time and don't have any expectations as to when they'll be feeling better.
5. Do your best to remember the baby often, even in the distant future. There's no reason to feel uncomfortable talking about the baby or saying her name. Feel free to send your friends an e-mail or call them whenever you think about the baby. It's okay for you to be sad and it can be comforting to parents to know their baby's death had a real impact on others.
6. If you are pregnant or have recently had a baby, be sensitive about talking about baby things. Try to avoid bringing your baby to their home or talking about how excited you are to welcome your new baby.