5 Ways to Support Parents who have Lost a Baby – Baby Loss Awareness Week 2017
Trigger Warning: Baby Loss
This week is baby loss awareness week. Something which is so close to my heart. If you don’t know my story I lost one of my twin girls when they were born at 29 weeks. It is single-handedly the hardest thing I have ever been through and it needs to be talked about more. To mark it I wanted to share some ways of helping if you have a loved one who has been through this too.
I have encountered all sorts of reactions to baby loss and no one is right or wrong. Some are harder to deal with but believe me, as the parent of a still born baby we don’t know what the right thing to say to us is either.
I can’t speak for every parent that has lost a baby as we are all humans and all deal with things, especially grief differently. But I think there are things that you can do to be there for grieving families. Here are my top 5 things to do for or to say to parents that have lost a baby.
Offer a shoulder – this seems so obvious but it can be hard to approach someone when you don’t know what to say. You might find that at first they don’t want to talk; it might be too raw or too painful but in time you might get that message asking to meet for a coffee. It took me a long time to open up about losing my baby but it was so reassuring to know people were there if I needed them.
Practically help – This can be really useful is the family has other children in it. Offering to do the school run or taking a cooked meal round can really help take the pressure off parents. It is hard to stay normal for your other children when your heart is so broken so knowing they have something as simple as a meal prepared really helps.
Let them talk – If that moment comes when they want to talk, let them. Try not to say things like ‘it will get better with time’. We know it will but right at the moment it doesn’t feel like it. If they cry, cry with them. If they need a cuddle, give them a cuddle. Most of all, just listen.
Mark the milestones with them – A simple text on their birthday, due date or this week when baby loss is everywhere on social media. Knowing that other people remember your baby is so comforting and makes you feel less alone.
Be normal – Sometimes normality is needed. I went on a night out a few months after everything happened. It felt like the wrong thing to do and I worried that people would think I wasn’t sad enough. Right then I just needed to be normal, feel normal and to have people talk to me without the sympathetic looks. If they need normality, give it to them
I hope this helps if you have a loved one who has lost their precious baby. I am lucky; I know all of these things help because I have wonderful people around me who have done all of this.
I think of my baby girl every day but this week even more so. I will be lighting a candle on Wave of Light night for my baby and for all the babies who have left us too soon. I hope you will join me.
Photo credit: Alistair Rowan Photography