Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support, Education & Remembrance

Supporting a Grieving Family

February 22, 2019 | By Claudia Blumenstock | Friends and Family

How to help:

  1. Be supportive – Visit or call to say, “I care and I want to help.”
  2. Treat the bereaved couple equally. Men need as much support as women.
  3. Be available. Parents need direct help providing a meal, doing errands, babysitting their other children.  Sometimes concrete offers like, “I’d like to bring dinner over tonight” are more helpful.
  4. Listen. Allow the parents to talk about their child; ask but don’t pry.  Let them know that you want to listen if they want to talk.
  5. Learn about the grieving process. There are many books available.
  6. Don’t be afraid of reminding the parents about the child. They have never forgotten.  Letting them know that you remember is comforting. Refer to their child by name.
  7. Be liberal with touching a grieving parent. They often have a need for contact.

What to say:

  1. I’m sorry.
  2. I’m so sad for your loss.
  3. I know this is terribly hard for you.
  4. I’ve been thinking about you and wondering how you feel.
  5. How are you managing all of this>? (be prepared to listen)
  6. I don’t know what to say.
  7. It makes me sad.
  8. How can I help you?
  9. Do you feel like talking about…(use baby’s name)
  10. Talk as long as you want. I have plenty of time.
  11. Tell me about…(use baby’s name)

Remember, showing interest and caring are more important than finding the right words.

 What NOT to say:

  1. It all happened for the best.
  2. You’re young. You can have others.  (Children are NOT interchangeable)
  3. You’re lucky you have two healthy children. (But they don’t have this baby)
  4. Now you’ll have an angel in heaven. (They wanted a baby in their arms)
  5. You’re better off having this happen now, before you knew the baby.
  6. This was God’s way of saying something was wrong.
  7. You should feel lucky that you’re alive.
  8. Forget it. Put it behind you and get on with your life.
  9. I understand. (If you have not had a similar experience, this is not helpful)
  10. To the father: You have to be strong now for your wife.

Originally printed in the Empty Cradle Newsletter July/August 2004

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