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For Family And Friends

Thank you for wanting to find out how you can best help your friend or family member through their loss. The most important thing you can do to help is to acknowledge their loss, be there for them, and recognise that this loss has irrevocably changed their life.

Below are some suggestions of ways you can support your friend or family member, remember we are all unique individuals and some things will be more appropriate than others to your loved ones process.

Trust that you will know what feels right.

Though you may be experiencing difficulty understanding the depth of their grief, being there for your friend or loved one at this time can play a crucial part in their recovery.

 Your validation and acknowledgement of their baby's existence is necessary and deeply meaningful. When grieving is not validated feelings can remain unresolved, and there can be a tendency for them to think the emotions they are experiencing are somehow wrong, or to minimise them.

 Your efforts will be appriciated, remembered and make a huge difference at this significant time.

 

Here is a list of gentle, practical and helpful things that will support your friend through their loss:

 

♥ Contact them, be there if possible or ring or write, as hard as it might be for you to do that, what they are going through is much harder. Whatever they are feeling they deserve to have their feelings supported by people around them.


♥ Acknowledge their pain.


♥ Understand that tears are a healthy response and should never be discouraged. Having a box of tissues handy is helpful.


♥ A hug is a wonderful way to show your support and provides huge comfort.


♥ Listen to them, let them do the talking, help them to talk about their feelings from the heart.


♥ Don't change the subject if you feel awkward, be honest with them, if you don't know what to say tell them that. Let them know you are there for them and that you are sorry that you do not have the words to make things better.


♥ Ask questions about their experience, how are they really feeling, and what are they thinking about.


♥ Don't forget about the baby's Father, include him in the support you offer.


♥ Encourage them to be patient, gentle and kind to each other; grieving takes time.


♥ Reassure them that they did everything they could and that it wasn't their fault - this helps to alleviate their guilt.


♥ Encourage her to rest, grieving is a physically and emotionally exhausting process.


♥ Do something practical for them, take them a bag of groceries, make some food, do some housework, ask if they need any errands running. Doing everyday things or leaving the house can feel overwhelming in the early weeks after their loss.


♥ As the intensity of grief fluctuates, during less tearful times a change of scenery helps, suggest a small outing or gentle walk.


♥ When they feel ready be by their side as they face life again.


♥ Accept that they may need time to hibernate and be alone together, but don't abandon them.


♥ Take flowers, or a scented candle, a little gift to nurture them.


♥Remember important dates and acknowledge their little one at these times.

 

♥ Think about giving them a remembrance gift that honours their baby.


♥ Speak their baby's name. Hearing their childs name come from lips of someone other than themselves can be so comforting. It shows them that their child matters and is thought of and remembered.

 

Most of all know that your friends has been changed forever by this loss, accept and love them for who they are and accommodate the changes that you find.

Let them know that their child matters and is thought of, never be afraid of upsetting them by talking about their loss, if they cry it needs releasing and will ultimately bring healing. Know that your frienship and care is deeply appreciated, never forgotten, and truly needed.

 

Although you may feel unsure of how to cope with your friends loss and inadequately prepared for helping them, you are entering into a very delicate situation, you are a source of support or hurt depending on how you respond to them.

 

Here is a list of unhelpful things meant as a guide for you to better navigate this sensitive time:

♥ Don't ignore them because you feel helpless or uncomfortable with grief - they may feel what has happened to them means nothing to you.


♥ Don't think that stillbirth or neo-natal death is easier to face than losing an older child. The truth is their baby just died, it really isn't about the length of time they had with their child.


♥ Don't be worried about making them cry, it's not what you said that upset them, it's losing their baby. By allowing them to cry, you are helping them to work through the process of grieving.


♥ Don't confuse support with cheering them up, grief is an enormously powerful emotion and needs releasing not suppressing.


♥ Don't put on a cheery front yourself, be authentic.


♥ Don't be nervous and keep talking, there is nothing wrong with silence, it can be incredibly healing.


♥ Don't be judgemental about their feelings or reactions, grieving peolple often behave out of character or inappropriately, and need your unconditional support. Things will settle down eventually and they will be grateful you stood by them.


♥ Don't have expectations about how long it 'should' take to recover. Losing a baby is one of life's most difficult experiences and the depth of their grieving is shocking even to them.


♥ Don't assume there will be another pregnancy.


♥ Don't minimise their loss by comparing other's experiences or offering platitudes.


♥ Don't feel guilty if you're pregnant or celebrating a new arrival in your family, don't avoid talking about it, but be sensitive to their feelings and forgive them if they seem cold or distant, it is their way of coping.


♥ Don't say there was possibly something wrong with their baby and that it may have been for the best. This may be true, but it is no comfort to hear it when you want to believe your baby was perfect, and that is who they are grieving for.


♥ Don't say you can always have another one, it doesn't help much to know you can have another baby, the parents wanted that baby. They need to grieve for their lost one before they can think about another one.


♥ Don't say at least you didn't know the baby, or that it would have been much worse if it had happened later. It doesn't help to minimise, it's the strength of the parents attachment that determines the intensity of their grief.


♥ Don't say I know how you feel, even if you have experienced your own loss, as everyone reacts differently and there may be other compounding factors, it was their baby they lost along with all their hopes and dreams for that baby.

 

If in doubt say something as simple as I'm so sorry for your loss and offer a hug, the truth is it is much harder when people say nothing at all.

Helpful things you can say are:

♥ I'm sorry about your loss - These simple words mean such a lot, especially when you give the space for them to talk, or not talk, as they wish afterwards.


♥ I know how much you wanted your baby - By acknowledging that something precious has been lost you are giving validation to their little one and opening the door to talk further.


♥ It's ok to cry - It is reassuring for the parents to know they are not being judged for their tears and sadness.


♥ I don't really know what to say - Being honest and authentic allows the parents to be also, and the fact that you are there and available to listen is really important.


♥ Can I call you again to see how you are doing - Often people are sympathetic at first, then never mention their loss again. The parents will be grieving for weeks, months or years so it is reassuring for them to know your support is ongoing.


♥ I was wondering how you are feeling about your baby now - It is healing for parents to have the opportunity to talk about their baby even if it a long time after a successful pregnancy. They will never forget their baby.

 

Just let them know they are cared about and loved, and that you will be there for them no matter what. Show them that you remember their loss by asking how they are doing around special dates, bringing them some flowers or a little keepsake. Write their childs name in Christmas cards, Mother's Day and Father's Day cards, something simple like "Remembering Lily today" means such a lot.

But most of all be willing to listen and share their grief. Be gentle on them. Give them time. Remember it's not about you, it is about them. You will be doing them a great service on their journey to healing.

 

 " Some say to painful to remember, I say too precious to forget"