A child dying is incredibly difficult to process, not only for the bereaved parents, but also their family and friends. Providing support after baby loss — whether from miscarriage or death after baby is born — is essential but it can be hard to know what to say or do to show that they have your support.
Baby Loss Awareness Week
Baby Loss Awareness Week takes place from October 9-15 every year. Baby loss charity Teddy’s Wish, who run annual bereavement and wellness retreats for bereaved parents, has come up with a unique step-by-step guide for supporting the family when a baby or child dies. Their advice follows a system where each tip starts with the letters from the words BE THERE.
Steps to provide support after baby loss
- Baby – Don’t be afraid to mention their baby’s name, as well as birthdays & anniversaries. All bereaved parents love hearing their baby mentioned as it acknowledges their existence.
- Ear – Lend an ear and listen. Too often, friends and family try to offer advice but the best support you can give is to simply be there and listen.
- Talk – Get in contact & stay in touch, even just a ‘thinking of you’ text will mean so much. Bereaved parents just want to know people are thinking of them and are there for them if needed.
- Help – Turn up with food, help with the cleaning. Doing something is better than doing nothing. Doing something unprompted is even better.
- Expressions – Avoid fatalistic expressions, such as ‘things happen for a reason’ or ‘you can have another one’ as they make bereaved parents feel worse.
- Replacement – Another baby is not one. Some parents will go on to have subsequent children, and being pregnant again can be a terrifying and an anxious time for bereaved parents.
- Expectation – Don’t expect parents to ‘get over it’. Grief is an ongoing process and is always there. It is not something you ever get over or forget. It’s something you learn to live with.
How to talk to children about baby loss
On the flip side, telling a child when there is a death in the family is also difficult. Giving them support after baby loss requires tailoring the message to their level of understanding while also giving them room to ask questions and understand that the baby has not just ‘gone away’.