When a parent experiences the loss of their child, a big part of their heart is broken. There is immeasurable guilt. Time seems to stand still.
As a friend or family member, how can you help?
As a parent going through the loss, how do you ask for help?
Here are five things that you can do to help when someone you know is experiencing infant loss
- Remember dates. Jot down the due date, and remember that your friend is likely going through a huge range of emotions, most of them painful. This would have been when she should be holding her baby. She would be celebrating birthdays around this date, so remember that and send her a quick thinking of you note or text when it draws near
- Take her out for coffee. Sometimes a good cup of tea or coffee can soothe the soul. Sometimes it can't. But all you can do is try.
- Make arrangements with a spa to treat her to a service. Better yet, pick her up at her house, drop her off at the spa, and take her out for lunch when her treatment is done.
- Hold the space. There are moments when there are no words, and that is absolutely ok. Sometimes the parent going through the loss doesn't want to hear it'll be ok, or you can always try again. Stay away from the cliches and advice, because nothing will really ever make this better for her. Just hold the space, hold the quiet, and let things be.
- Bring over her favorite meal. That is, make it and bring it over, but text her when you're driving away and have left it at her doorstep. She may not want to see people, not even her very best friend, but I am certain that she will appreciate the care and time you took to make this meal for her.
On days when you want to be left alone, it is perfectly ok to post a note on your door asking for quiet, saying you're napping or asking for deliveries to be left at the door. If you don't want to see anyone or have visitors, that's ok. It's your choice who you let in and when.
If you need a buffer, ask your best friend to field calls or texts for you. Let your family know that you'll be in touch with him or her, and then have them send updates to your family.
There are no right answers, no perfect solution or checklist to follow when you've just experienced a miscarriage, still birth or infant loss. It's incredibly emotional. It's heartbreaking. But there is support out there, and those who care about you will want to help. Let them know when it's ok, when you need space and know that their heart is in the right place.