When a friend or family member loses a baby, it can be difficult to know what to do or how to respond. I admit that before experiencing my own loss, I wouldn’t have known how to handle these situations either. While there are the standard ways of offering support such as bringing meals or sending cards (both good things, of course), I have compiled a short list of other simple ways in which you can support a loss mom.
1. Acknowledge that she lost a baby, not “just” a pregnancy. Sure, the pregnancy was lost, but it was a pregnancy in which her womb was carrying a developing baby. A baby that is no longer in her womb or on this earth. You don’t need to say anything fancy. Simply saying “I’m so sorry for the loss of your baby” will do just fine.
2. Say her baby’s name. This provides validation that indeed, a life was lost. A human, who had a name is no longer here. There is comfort in hearing the name of your baby who died.
3. Validate her grief. She doesn’t need recommendations to see a therapist or suggestions to start taking anti-depressants. While those things can certainly be useful in navigating grief, what she really needs to hear is that you understand the gravity of her loss. That you believe there is a good reason for her grief. That you understand why she is grieving. That there is a very valid reason for the depression and despondency she may be exhibiting. She need to know that it’s okay for her to not pretend to be happy. And that it’s okay for her to take a break from the social scene because she doesn’t have the energy to be around people.
4. Cry with her. There is no reason to hide your own tears when the tears of a loss mom start flowing. The tears of others once again validate the significance of loss. I will never forget the voicemail message left by a friend who had called after she found out we were going to lose our baby. I didn’t answer the call because I couldn’t find the strength to talk to anyone during that time, but she left a message. A blubbering message in which she was sobbing while stating how sorry she was to hear this news. How sorry she was for the loss of our baby. It was a long message full of tears, where she repeatedly apologized for crying. She had no reason to apologize. Tears were the only language I could understand at the time and her tears spoke louder to me than any of the words that had been said. It felt good to no longer be the only one crying.
5. Bless her with a gift that includes her baby’s name. This might be a piece of jewelry, a Christmas ornament, remembrance artwork, or any number of other personalized items. Having something tangible to hold that reminds her of her baby can be very comforting. It is something that can be seen and touched when she can no longer see or touch her child.