“What should/shouldn’t I say?”
“What can I do?”
“My friend just lost her baby. How can I best support her?”
I get messages like these a few times a month. I never tire of answering them because it shows true love and compassion that these people have reached out to me in order to better support their friend/family member through loss. Well meaning people often say the harshest things that leave deep emotional scars for people in the PAIL (pregnancy and infant loss) community. Intentions don’t matter when you’ve caused irreparable harm; so, be sure to do your research and check out some of the resources below to guide you on your journey to support your friend/relative.
While I wish I could say navigating loss with a friend or family member is easy and here’s a list of things to avoid and what to do and you’re golden; that’s simply not the case. Grief is personal and different for each person. Each loss is unique and a person’s prior experiences change how they process (or don’t process) their emotions. Some cultures and faiths do not acknowledge stillbirth or miscarriage as the loss of a baby/a being with a soul, and to speak of the loss as such can be damaging to that person’s sense of comfort and understanding of their faith. Research further to be aware of any cultural differences you might not yet know about in order to best help your friend/relative.
It is important to understand that we cannot provide a blanket solution for you to help your friend/relative, but we can provide resources that may guide you in the right direction. Only you, as their personal friend/relative, will be able to decide what best applies to the person and the relationship you have with that person.
Resources on Amos’ Anchors
Helping After Neonatal Death (HAND) of Santa Clara, CA
- Start with Understanding
- What I Can Say
- Support I Can Give
- Remembrances you can Give
- Ways to Help During the Holidays
- Other Ways to Help