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"I don't think most people truly understand how much is lost when a baby dies. You don't just lose a baby, you lose the 1 and 2 and 10 and 16 year old she would have become. You lose Christmas mornings and loose teeth and the first days of school. You just lose it all."
– From the book "Still" by Stephanie Page Cole (www.sweetpeaproject.org)

Especially for Family and Friends

Perinatal loss is a profound experience for the parents. Examples of perinatal loss include miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth, and neonatal death. It is estimated that 25-to 50-percent of pregnancies result in early pregnancy loss, occurring before 20 weeks' gestation, and stillbirths occur in 1 out of 150 pregnancies.

For men and women a perinatal loss can involve mourning the loss of one's parental identity. But family and friends can play an important part in their healing.

Do...

  • Maintain your relationship with the bereaved parent(s). Many times relationships are abandoned because others don't know what to say to the person who is grieving. They need your companionship now more than ever.
  • Fix meals. Get groceries or necessities.
  • Offer to assist with household chores and repairs.
  • Offer to help with making decisions. It is often difficult to think clearly at the time of a death of a child.
  • Give hugs. Learn to be comfortable with shared silence.
  • Listen to the bereaved parent. Listen 80-percent of the time and talk 20-percent. Be patient, they need to be able to tell their story and share their memories.
  • Ask if the griever would like you to stay with them overnight; some will welcome the company, while some will want to be alone.
  • Just be there! Often no words need to be said, your presence is more than words can express and shows the griever you care.
  • Use the name of the baby or child.
  • Share your positive memories and stories of time spent with the baby (when possible)

Don't...

  • Don't say, "I know what you're going through." We really don't know what someone else is thinking or feeling. Everyone's experience is unique.
  • Don't say things like, "You'll forget..." or "Time will heal your hurt and you'll get over it." They will never get over the death of their baby or child but they will learn to live with it.
  • Don't say, "Call me if you need anything." People who need help generally won't ask. This can also be perceived as though you are just trying to be nice - an offer that is meant to be declined.
  • Don't say, "God works in mysterious ways." "They're in a better place now." "You can always have another child."
  • Don't try to hurry grief. Grief takes time and patience and cannot be done on a fixed schedule.
  • Don't tell the bereaved parent what they should do. This reinforces a sense of incompetence and each person handles things differently.
  • Don't make philosophical comments about the baby such as, "It's a good thing for her that she didn't suffer."
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