This is a look at how best to assist someone after they have lost an infant. It considers what to say and what to do.
Something about the innocence of a baby makes its loss much more painful. Whether the death occurs in childbirth or during infancy, losing a baby is difficult. For many, being around a person who has suffered such a loss is just as hard. We do not want to face our own grief, and so, we do not want to confront the grief of others.
Begin supporting a person who has lost a baby by being a presence in his or her life. Being alone can make grief seem much heavier to carry. Even if you just go and sit nearby, it will help. Let the person know that you are available to talk, listen, or to help. Do not push this onto the person. If they want the help, they will ask.
The exception to this rule would be if you knew the person was suffering financially, and you give them money. Make sure that the money is given without strings. This individual is not in a condition to make good decisions. Under other circumstances, money with strings attached might be refused. Make it a gift and let it go.
Offer to help with child care if the person has other children still at home. This will remove a load from them. It will keep the individual or couple from struggling with guilt about abandoning the other children after the baby died. They will know that the children are being fed, clothed, and looked after.
Doing housework can be a great service to grieving parents. Do not go in to snoop through drawers and closets. Just do some dusting, sweeping, and general cleaning in obvious areas. This will have their house looking presentable if company comes by to visit them in their grief.
If you like to bake or cook, take some food to the home. This is always appreciated. When people are recovering from the loss of a baby, having food in the house to eat or to serve unexpected guests is a great help. It assists them both physically and financially.
Being available to run errands can be a nice touch. Cleaning may still need to be picked up and dropped off. Things like milk and bread run short during these times. Having someone who can go and pick it up is a good thing. You can coordinate this with your own errands. Just take the time to call and ask if there is anyplace you can go for them while you are out.
Try to avoid things like telling them they can always have another child. Children and babies are not interchangeable. Getting a new one does not replace the one that was lost. Telling people about everyone that you have ever known who lost a baby is not a great choice of conversation either.
Sometimes discussing how you felt when you lost a baby can be helpful if you can refrain from becoming morbid. Sharing experiences and how you recovered can be a source of strength for those who are grieving. If you are going to share about your three months in the psych ward after the loss, keep your mouth shut. This will not be helpful.
Praying with the family if they are religious is an excellent option. Even those who are not really religious will appreciate the thoughtfulness of a prayer. Do not make this a dissertation on religion. Just a nice simple straightforward prayer that covers the basics of asking God to help this family in their time of loss is sufficient.