When a friend or loved one loses a baby during pregnancy or at birth, it may seem there’s not much we can say or do. But here are three simple ways to ease their burden, offered by someone who’s been there.
by Heidi Indahl
When a friend or loved one learns that their baby has died, it may seem impossible to think that you can lighten their burden. There really isn’t much to say except, “I love you and I am so sorry this has happened in your family. We will pray for you.”
But is that really enough?
In some cases it just might be. In most instances, however, there are small things you can do that might help a grieving family through this very difficult time. Here are three simple ideas.
1. Acknowledge the baby for the cherished child that he or she is.
Ask the parents if they have named their child, and if so, send them a note or another keepsake with their child’s name, birthstone, or other acknowledgment of her existence. Most people are quick to forget about the many babies lost to miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant loss. In fact, in our pro-abortion culture, your friend or loved one may be hearing the message that their child’s life did not matter or that it wasn’t a life at all. As Catholics, we know this is simply not true, but we have to work doubly hard to combat the cultural message! Small actions and attitude shifts can go a long way in helping humanize all of the unborn, deceased or not.
2. Provide practical support where you can.
Meal chains, help with chores, babysitting…if it needs doing, your friend or loved one might need help for a little while. Find time to pitch in if you can. Make specific offers, but don’t be upset if your friend turns you down or doesn’t want to socialize much. She may just want to hibernate in her room while she recovers physically. Remember, no matter how early her loss, she just had a baby and that’s a big deal. Help her as much as you can, but respect her space while doing it. Here are 8 Tips When Someone You Love is Hurting.
3. Show your friend or loved one they are not alone.
Pregnancy and infant loss is lonely. In many cases, the friends a mom meets who “get it” are separated by time and space. On one hand, thank goodness for the community created by the internet. On the other, sometimes you need a friend who can curl up on your couch with you and hold you while you cry! I have had five losses, all very different in nature.
An Invitation to Walk with Mary
Through my losses I met someone. Someone who kept me company in my darkest hours and helped me find faith and hope when I thought both were lost.
Through my losses, I met our Blessed Mother in a new way.
I met her again and again in such a new and beautiful way, that I felt called to share her with other moms suffering through this silent heartache. I wrote Blessed Is the Fruit of They Womb: Rosary Reflections for Miscarriage, Stillbirth, & Infant Loss so that no mom ever needs to feel alone when grieving the loss of her precious baby. Mary is ready and waiting to walk with your friend or loved one on this very difficult journey.
Heidi Indahl blogs at Work and Play, Day by Day, and home schools her children in Minnesota. She is a regular contributor to Peanut Butter & Grace.