When a loved one has a pregnancy or infant loss, even the closest friends and relatives can feel unsure of what to do. There are no easy fixes for grief, but sharing your love and support is an important way to help.
Start by reaching out to acknowledge the loss and express your sympathy. If you don’t know what to say, it is ok to simply share that you are very sorry for their loss. Letting loss parents know how much you care is an important first step. Checking in, honoring their needs and preferences, and offering specific help or small gestures of kindness are all ways to keep the lines of communication open.
Being there for a loved one whose baby has died takes time and patience. Loss parents can continue to experience difficult days long after they seem to have re-engaged with their regular routines. Educate yourself about baby loss and grief so you understand how to be there for the journey.
Say their baby’s name.
A lot of love and care goes into naming a baby, and the same is true for a baby who has died. For many loss families, their baby’s name has special meaning and represents one thing that lives on. Each time you use it, you affirm their existence and contribute to their legacy.
Note important dates.
There is a lifetime of could-have-beens following baby loss. Reaching out to check in on milestones and holidays is a helpful way to share your support. Be sure to ask the loss parents which days are important and how they refer to them so you can be most supportive.
Do something personal to honor their baby.
Whether you light a candle, dedicate a yoga practice, plant a tree, or volunteer your time, showing a loss family that you are thinking of their baby means the world. Whatever you choose to do, take a minute to let your loved one know so they can feel the love you have shared.
Loss parents with older children face the heartbreaking task of helping them navigate the loss of their sibling. Children grieve differently at different ages and stages and helping them express and understand their feelings can be challenging when you are grieving as well. Books can offer a helpful way to introduce difficult topics and establish a vocabulary for your family to talk about death, grief, and remembrance.
It can also be helpful to create a grief support team that includes your child’s pediatrician, teachers, caregivers, and other family members. If you observe changes in your child’s eating, sleeping or social behavior, a child life specialist or pediatric therapist can offer additional support and guidance.
The loss of a beloved grandchild is a devastating blow for grandparents and watching your child cope with grief adds to the heartache. Many bereaved grandparents think about the impact of baby loss across the generations and are unsure of how to best provide comfort to their grieving family.
As a grandparent, you are an important source of support for the bereaved parents, and it is important that you feel supported in your role as well. Turning outward to other family members, friends, or mental health professionals is the best way to address your feelings and emotions. It can also be helpful to learn more about grief and explore ways to incorporate remembrance rituals into your family traditions and gatherings.
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