Pregnancy and Infant Loss impacts 1 in every 4 pregnancies, and yet many of us still don’t know how what to say or how to support friends and family members when they are going through this type of loss.
Not long ago, I shared about my own loss – and now I wanted to share a few things that, in my experience are the best ways to show up for someone experiencing the loss of a baby.
14 Ways to Show Up for Someone Experiencing the Loss of a Baby:
- First, thank you for reading this list below. To truly show up for your people says a lot about the person you are. Thank you for being there for them.
- Saying something is better than saying nothing. Avoid saying ANYTHING around “at least you can get pregnant”, or “at least it was early”, do not say “everything happens for a reason” or “It must be God’s plan” but DO say: “You and your baby are so loved. I am here for you. You don’t have to respond to this, but know that I will continue to be here.”
- Recognize that mothers who experience loss also go through the physical changes, pains and discomforts of postpartum life. If you know of things that helped you during this time physically, offer to drop off items that may help or comfort in this way.
- If the baby has a name… SAY the baby’s name. As simple as “I thought of you and Baby Ella today. Sending love” You are not reminding them of their loss or sadness, they already remember their loss all the time. You are reminding them that their baby is loved and remembered.
- Get specific and take the work out of “helping”. Avoid “Let me know if you need anything!” Instead say, “I’d love to drop off sandwiches around 5pm and take your dog for a walk – does today or Thursday work better?” Short, sweet, helpful and it takes the majority of the work out of it for them.
- If your offer is met with no response or that it won’t work that specific time…try again another time. Don’t take it personally. Respect their boundaries and know that in a lot of the early loss days they are just trying to make it through.
- Surprisingly to some, at times loss parents need to feel sprinkles of laughter and love and lightness. Grief is a lot to carry with you. When you spend time together, ask, do you want to talk, cry, laugh, vent or do you want a distraction? Make each emotion welcome and do not judge the feelings. Just give them space for whatever they need in that moment.
- Every action feels monumental after such an immense loss. Cheer her on. One friend told me “I’m proud of you for leaving the house today to go to your OB appointment, that is a big deal” Those words of encouragement are e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g when every “little” thing feels like such a huge thing.
- Stand in the nursery and hug her when she cries. The pain and heartbreak are so so raw, especially in the baby’s nursery. No words are okay sometimes. Tears ARE love.
- Meal trains are great and appreciated; think outside the “pasta” box, salad kits with dressing, cut up fresh fruit, sending an ice cream dessert or a breakfast casserole for the morning. Also, smaller portion sizes are something to be mindful of, especially in the early days with limited fridge and freezer space!
- If you are close enough, help her Marie Kondo the crap out of the piles of hospital bills, the delayed baby shower gifts, the constant flow of cards + gifts. It all adds up to a mountain of love… & clutter 😉
- Offer to visit her child’s grave or a place that is meaningful to her and her angel. If she has a place where she goes to feel connected, offer to go there with her. Listen. Or sit. Ask her what feels best in that moment. If she cancels, still go. Tell her you still went and held them in your heart. I’ll never forget when my best friend went to Henry’s grave and she texted me saying “He and I had a long chat about his mom today”. No words for moments as special as these.
- Dads grieve, too. Please don’t forget this! Holidays, special days, and the in-between days. They are grieving the loss of their child and carrying an immense weight on their shoulders. Find a way to remind them that is meaningful to them that you are thinking about them and their child.
- Be mindful of events surrounding the birth and celebration of other babies in their life; baby showers, birthday parties, etc. Don’t ignore them in these moments. Let them know that you would love to see them but understand if it’s not the right time for an event of that nature. If they duck out early or seem like they are in a daze, it’s because they probably are. Grief fatigue and small talk is extremely hard. Especially at functions where everything is centered around “happy”.
All of this advice is shared with the caveat that every single person has their own journey with grief and loss. Respect boundaries, learn what your people need from you and show up ready to love them and help remember their child. Their baby existed. Their baby matters. Their baby is loved. Thank you for loving your people through the hardest imaginable journey. You have a beautiful heart for reading this far!
If you are curious about No Foot Too Small’s mission, or are interested in attending or sponsoring the Mom’s Group in Madison, head to https://www.nofoottoosmall.
“There is no foot too small that it cannot leave an imprint on this world.”
About the Author
Courtney Fitzpatrick is mom to sweet angel, Henry, and goofy Golden Retriever, Murphy, and wife to Scott. They live in the Raleigh, North Carolina suburbs and are enjoying all that the East Coast has to offer a couple Midwest transplants.
Courtney is proud to share inspiring words + colorful gems with the world inside her endeavors with Henry’s Ripple and Unwavering Love Co. She is a fan of vulnerability and connection and believes every human deserves love, compassion and support throughout life’s most difficult journeys. Aside from her family and friends, things that make her smile BIG are iced coffee, fresh flowers and a crisp Wisconsin Badger game day in the fall.