How to support someone who has lost a baby in pregnancy
Sadly, with one in four confirmed pregnancies ending in miscarriage, and one in 120 babies stillborn, you or someone you know has probably gone through the trauma of losing a baby.
Whether it’s at 6 weeks or 36 weeks, losing a baby can be one of the saddest, loneliest and most devastating times of a person’s life. Sometimes it’s hard to know what to do and say to someone who has lost a baby, and that’s ok. Here are some suggestions for ways you can help a friend or loved one during this tragic time.
Some things you could say
Sometimes it feels like there is nothing right to say. After all, what could you possibly say that could help ease the pain? The most important thing is just showing that you’re there, you are trying to understand, and that you want to listen if and when your friend or loved one needs to talk.
These phrases may be helpful to show that you care:
- I am so sorry for your loss
- I am thinking of you and your family
- I’m not sure what to say but I just want you to know I’m here for you
- We will never forget your baby (use the baby’s name if one was given)
If your friend has named the baby, it’s often helpful to refer to that child by name. The baby was a real person and was part of a family. However, part of the difficulty of mourning a loss in pregnancy is that no one had the opportunity to physically meet and get to know that child.
Giving the baby a name and using it can help some parents, as well as their friends and family, feel more connected to the baby and make the grieving process a little easier.
What not to say
Whether it’s due to the stigma of pregnancy loss or a lack of discussion about the issue, well-meaning friends and family can sometimes make comments they think are helpful, but may come across as inappropriate or hurtful.
The following kinds of phrases and sentiments are examples of unhelpful comments for bereaved parents, and can have the effect of trivialising their baby’s life and death:
- It happened for a reason
- At least it happened early
- At least you can get pregnant
- The baby probably wasn’t healthy
- It’s probably for the best
- You can try again soon
Some practical ways you could help and provide support
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Actions can speak louder than words when you’re trying to show a friend or family member how much you love them and that you are hurting with them. There are a few lovely ways you could help honour their child:
- Plant a beautiful tree or flowering plant in memory of the child.
- Make a home cooked meal. This is particularly helpful if they have other children they are caring for.
- Offer to do practical things like laundry, emptying the dishwasher, cleaning up or simply minding the other kids so they can have some time to themselves.
- Make a donation to a charity in the child’s name. A good example of an appropriate charity is Sands, the miscarriage, stillbirth and newborn support service.
- Remember the anniversary of the baby’s death or due date and send a thoughtful text to let your friend know you’re thinking of them. Often this is a lonely time, as it can seem like everyone else has forgotten about the tragedy.
Overall, the most important thing is to listen to your friend or loved one, give them lots of hugs and tell them how much you love them and want to be there for them. Your support won’t heal their pain, but it will help to make them feel a little less lonely in their time of grief.