ANGEL BABIES AND HOW TO OFFER SUPPORT AND COPE
DEATH is still very much a taboo subject in our society : particularly baby death. People find it hard to relate too and are never sure just what to say. Everyday in the UK 15 babies die before, during or after birth. This pain of dealing with this is unique and can cause a ripple effect for years to come. Over the years I have brought through 1000’s of babies who had passed at different stages of pregnancy and birth and they always get sent to heaven and are able even if miscarried to communicate with me from the very moment of passing. They grow up in heaven and are looked after by family members , always. This I can promise you.
One of the worst things about dealing with this kind of passing is knowing what to say to a grieving parent. Often saying nothing at all but offering support and a shoulder to cry on when needed can be enough rather then saying the wrong thing and making it worse. In the early stages the shock for the parents can just overtake their life and this is when support will be from everyone , but as the funeral( if there is one) comes and goes and life returns to normal for everyone else and the grief continues I find this is when support needs to be at its fullest.
Do NOT say :
- “It’s OK you still have other children.” – no parent needs to hear this
- After a miscarriage: “well at least you didn’t get to see them .” A parent who had a loss this way is grieving what will never be, to them it makes no difference if they didn’t get to meet their child …they mourn their baby the same.
- “Well at least they didn’t suffer.” – how their child crossed is irrelevant, it’s such a sensitive subject matter be careful with your words.
- “You can try again” – this to me is one of the most heartbreaking things to say and you would be shocked at how many times it’s said.
- “There’s plenty of time to make more.” Yes I’ve heard this said ! When you’re grieving time stands still, this comment seems that to nullify the importance of the child that just crossed over.
Do SAY :
- “We are here if you need us” – offer an unspoken word and let them know you support them.
- Remember to ask how dad is – so many times the focus is on mum , but dads hurt too and have to focus on being strong often being overlooked.
- Ask if they need any shopping or even just make a tray of food, even though food is the last thing on your mind in grief you’d be surprised how well it’s received.
- Talk when they are ready and mention the baby / child . They existed and often this doesn’t get mentioned enough.
- Write a card or even a note to let them know you’re thinking about them.
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When a friend or relative loses a baby – from miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant death – it is a devastating loss. Our family has been down this dark road three times: when we lost a baby to miscarriage and when our twin daughters died shortly after their premature birth.
If you’re wondering what to do when a friend loses a baby? Here are 4 ways – and many more ideas to help.
I learned how to care for grieving parents from the family, friends, co-workers, and even strangers who reached out to us in amazing ways after our babies died. All the ideas below came from them, and it is an honor and gift to share them with you.
How to help when friend loses baby: something they want, something they need, something to keep, or something to read
Here’s what you can give to a loved one after their baby has died: something they want, something they need, something to keep, or something to read.
Something They Want
Grieving parents want time and space to grieve. More than anything, they want their baby back. Since that is impossible, what you can give them is your time and presence.
Show up however you can: at their doorstep, in their mailbox, in their inbox, or on their phone. Your love, support, and prayers are the most important way to help a grieving parent.
You don’t have to do anything huge or elaborate – simply be present to them in their pain and let them know they are not alone.
Grieving parents also want other people to acknowledge their loss and honor their baby’s memory. Here are 4 ways to remember the life of their child:
Send the card: A physical card means even more than a phone call, email or text. It gives something to hold and keep. Target and Hallmark now carry sympathy cards for the loss of a baby. My friend Katie offers sympathy cards after loss and miscarriage at her Unexpected Honey shop. I love these pregnancy loss cards, too. (P.S. even if you send the card weeks or months later? Your words will still touch them.)
Remember each month: Set a reminder in your phone or calendar for the day of the month that your friend’s baby died. A quick text or email will mean the world to them on that difficult day – because monthly milestones matter for all parents of babies, living or lost.
Don’t forget the holidays: Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are difficult days after the loss of a child. Reaching out to parents on those days – or in the days leading up – is a beautiful gesture of your love and prayers. You could also remember their child with a Christmas ornament or other personalized keepsake.
Give in their child’s honor: A memorial gift to a charity related to the baby’s loss or a favorite organization is a wonderful way to keep their child’s spirit alive.
Something They Need
In the immediate aftermath of their loss, grieving parents need help with life’s most basic needs:
Food: if you’re local, bringing dinner or breakfast baked goods is a huge help. If you’re long-distance, you can send a gift card for a restaurant, pizza, or groceries, or call a local restaurant to have dinner delivered.
Expenses: for any kind of loss – even an early miscarriage – medical bills pile up quickly. Hospital bills and burial expenses for a baby can be staggering. Even a small financial gift can help a family burdened by unexpected expenses.
Child care: if the parents have other children, an offer to watch the kids for a few hours during the day (so they can rest) or in the evening (so they can get out of the house) is a huge help.
Something To Keep
A simple gift to remember the baby is a lasting treasure: a candle, a picture frame (for an ultrasound photo), a song on iTunes, a favorite tea or coffee, or a small scrapbook. A handmade quilt or prayer shawl is another lasting comfort to grieving parents.
Flowers: Bouquets are beautiful to surround the parents at the beginning. But it’s also nice to have something that lasts – a house plant, a plant for a memorial garden, a gift card to a local nursery, or a tree to plant in their baby’s honor.
Memorial stones: Blessing and Light makes personalized indoor/outdoor stones for all kinds of losses. Or give a garden stepping stone for parents to place in their yard (my husband’s siblings got us a gorgeous custom stone for our twins similar to this).
Personalized artwork: I bought myself a memorial print from Luminous Light Studio with our daughters’ names and dates. My friend Eileen sent us two beautiful prints from her Etsy shop that you can customize with the child’s name – a huge source of comfort to grieving parents.
Memorial jewelry: Tangible reminders of lost babies mean so much, like a necklace with the baby’s initial, name, or date of birth.
For moms, here’s an infinity bracelet with initial charms. (Stitch Fix sent me this beautiful gift after they heard about our daughters’ deaths – read the whole story here on Today.com!)
For a mother with multiple children, here is a engravable necklace to include all her children’s names. (I bought this for myself & love it so much.)
For a Catholic mom, here is an Etsy shop that makes necklaces with sea glass, saints’ medals, and engravable charms.
For dads, here an ID bracelet you can have engraved with a child’s name.
Catholic ideas: After our miscarriage, a dear friend sent me a pink and blue rosary (similar to this). Another friend sent a gorgeous rosary bracelet (similar to this) after we lost our twins. Having a Mass offered for the child or enrolling their name in the prayers of a religious community are two other Catholic traditions that can bring comfort.
Something To Read
A journal is a great gift for parents to process their feelings after the loss of their child – or to record memories from the pregnancy, birth, or death.
There are many books that speak to pregnancy and infant loss. Here are a few of my favorites:
After Miscarriage by Karen Edmisten: a book about grief, healing, and hope after miscarriage. Karen gathers perspectives from her own losses and other women’s stories in short reflections that offer perspectives of grace and comfort.
Far As The Curse Is Found: Searching for God in Infertility, Miscarriage, and Stillbirth by Abigail Waldron: a helpful, hopeful collection of stories from families who have been there. Abigail knows all three losses firsthand, so she journeys through a year of sitting with a different family each month and sharing their stories of loss, healing, and hope.
Waiting for Gabriel: A Story of Cherishing a Baby’s Brief Life by Amy Kuebelbeck: the story of a family who receive a heart-breaking prenatal diagnosis for their son and have to navigate life-and-death decisions in preparing for his birth. Honest, beautiful writing on saying hello and goodbye to a beloved baby.
Lament for A Son by Nicholas Wolterstorff: the best book I’ve read on the loss of a child. A short but deep theological reflection of wrestling with God and holding fast to faith in the aftermath of devastating loss.
What else would you add to the list? What has helped you – or someone you love – after the loss of a baby?