October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. For some, the joy of pregnancy or parenthood turns into a time of great loss and unbearable grief.
Sadly, many people are afraid to talk about this, leaving those who have experienced infant loss feeling very alone. Silent, unprocessed grief from previous pregnancy loss can have a huge impact on their lives going forward.
For friends and family, it is so hard to know what to say or do. It is important to remember that for many who have experienced loss, they want to recognize the birth of their baby, not just their baby’s death. They need love and support.
Family and friends should acknowledge the loss of a baby like any other member of the family. Never dismiss it with comments like ‘you can try again’ or ‘don’t worry, it happens all the time’.
It’s ok to express that you don’t know what to say. Just being lovingly present is often the best thing you can do.
Keep in contact, even though you don’t know what to say, or how to offer support. Here are some suggestions of ways to start the conversation:
“I am so sorry for your loss of your baby. I just don’t know what to say or do but know that I care about you and am thinking of you”
“I am so sorry for the loss of ……..…. Is it a good time to call?”
“It just breaks my heart to hear you lost your baby. How can I help you through this?”
“How are you really feeling today?”
“When you are ready, I would like to hear more about your baby”
You also may want to do more practical things to offer your support. Instead of asking if they want help, which is often met with a response of “No, it’s ok”, suggest ways that you can help. For example:
“I’ll come over later and do your laundry for you”
“Can I pick something up for you from the store?”
“I’ll cook dinner for you tonight”
Don’t forget the father. Often the focus is on the mother, but we need to remember the father is grieving too, even though they may be trying to be strong and support their partner.