Firstly – Thank you for wanting to help your friend or family member through their loss. The biggest thing you can do to help is to acknowledge that loss. Below are some helpful points on what you can do to be of support to your friend.
This loss has irrevocably changed your friend or family members life. Be there for them. As hard as it may be for you to do that, what they are going through is harder. Sending a card, flowers or making a meal for them shows them that you care.
Something that may be so appreciated by your friend or family member would be if you could create them a memory box. A memory box is something that they can keep all of their keepsakes in memory of their baby. This would need to be put together as soon as possible. It is designed so that the family can carry something out of the hospital, so if you can’t get it to them yourself, give it to someone who can.
What to put in the memory box? Two blankets (one for baby and one for the family to keep) a scented candle (Make sure you put in a note of what scent the candle is and where you got it from so that they are able to get more in the future) a candle holder, a teddy bear or special ornament like and angel or butterfly. Put in photo album or a frame. Place some little cards in the box for hand and foot prints. Give them a diary so that they can write their babies story.
♥ Speak Aloud Their Child’s Name
Do not be afraid to speak the child’s name. Hearing their child’s name come from the lips of someone other than themselves can be so comforting. It shows them that their child matters and is thought of.
Know that just listening can be so helpful to your friend. Giving out advice at this time may not help at all. Allow your friend or family member to speak their heart. Do not change the subject quickly if you feel awkward. Be honest with them, if you don’t know what to say, just tell them that. Let them know that you are there for them and that you are sorry that you do not have the words to make things better. Ask them to tell you about their child.
♥ Help In Practical Ways
Take the family around a bag of groceries. Things that they could easily run out of like bread and milk, toilet paper and tissues. You could cook them a meal. Ask them if there is any errands you could run for them. Helping the family in these small ways will actually be a huge help to them because everything will seem to hard at this time.
♥ The One Month Mark
Usually after the first month has passed, all the cards stop coming in. All the meals stop. The flowers have died and everyone else has returned back to their normal lives. This is a really important time to continue your support to your friend. Take them a meal every now and then. Continue to visit and speak their babies name.
♥ Things Not To Say Or Do
Do not compare their grief to anything else. This will minimize their grief which will make them feel like they shouldn’t be feeling the way they are.
Don’t tell them to call you if they need anything, because they won’t. That is probably just too hard for them to do. Anticipate their needs. Just help in practical ways but take care when doing things like washing. You do not want to wash anything that that may carry the smell of the baby or child that has passed. Always check first before doing something that cannot be undone.
Saying things like “God needed another angel” may seem like a comforting thing to say but in so many cases this will only upset your friend.
“It wasn’t meant to be” Telling this to someone who has lost a child will break their heart.
Do not suddenly change the subject if they start talking about their child. You may feel a little awkward but your friend has shown that they feel comfortable talking to you about their child, so just listen to them. Give them a hug if they become emotional.
Never tell your friend or family member to “Get over it” This is not something they will ever just get over. You never get over love. Ever.
“Everything happens for a reason” will not help. What could that reason possibly be? You could never make any one feel better by saying that when they are in the depths of grief.
“Their in a better place now”. Ah, no. Please do not say that.
If you do not know what to say…. Tell them that. Tell them you are sorry that you can’t say anything to take away their pain. That will mean more to them than silence. Tell them that you are there to listen to them.
There is nothing that they can say that will make this situation any better. People believe they have to try and make their friend feel better. What they do not know is that the easiest option will actually be the only one that does help. All you have to do is sit with your friend and acknowledge that “Yes, this truly is awful. Just know I am here for you.”
This RSA Short is a brilliant film clip to share with your friends and family. It opens peoples eyes to the difference between empathy and sympathy.
♥ Do Something To Honour Their Child’s Memory
This could be anything. It does not have to be something grand. You do not need to go and spend a lot of money. You could release some flowers into a river or the ocean. You could donate to a Charity that would be significant to your friend. You may want to plant a special tree or give your friend a special ornament. You could donate some blankets to the hospital that your friends baby was born at.
♥ Accept and Allow
Accept that this loss may change your relationship with your friend or family member. Allow your friend to cry, to scream, to get angry, to be unreasonable. They have had their world ripped apart and right now that is all that their life is about. accept and allow that your friend might want to be left alone. Let them hibernate if they have to.
♥ Mark The Dates
Mark down their child’s special dates so that you can remember them for anniversary’s. Remembering them on their anniversary will mean the world to the family.
For Christmas time, Mothers Day and Fathers day, remember to mention their child’s name in cards. It is as simple as writing “Remembering Christian today” and this will mean so much.
♥ Share The Link
Send your friend or family member the link to this website so that they may have a look around and be able to find help on the internet. The internet is a wonderful place for grieving families looking for support. They can find it with out even leaving their front door.
♥ Thank You
Thank you for coming in here to find out how you could help your friend. Just by doing this you are being a good friend. Be gentle on them. Give them time. Allow them hibernate if that is what they need to do. It is not about you, it is about them.