Monday, August 06, 2007

Some Pointers

If you know someone who has lost their baby due to SIDS or any other cause of infant death, there are lots of things you can do to help them through the grieving process. Unfortunately, it is easy to feel uncomfortable and unsure of what to do or say. Here is a list that you might find helpful:

  • Do get in touch. Let your genuine concern and caring show.
  • Do be available to listen.
  • Do help with the other children, or whatever else seems needed at the time. Offer help with practical matters like house cleaning and meals.
  • Do say you are sorry about what happened.
  • Do allow them to express as much grief as they are feeling at the moment. Accept silence; if the family doesn't feel like talking, don't force conversation. Follow their lead.
  • Do encourage them to be patient with themselves.
  • Do allow them to talk about their baby.
  • Do give special attention to the siblings of the baby.
  • Do be patient with them. Coping with the death of their baby may take a long time. Stay in touch.
  • Don't let your own sense of helplessness keep you from reaching out to the family.
  • Don't avoid the family because you are uncomfortable.
  • Don't say you know how they feel (unless you've lost a child yourself, you probably don't know how they feel).
  • Don't probe for details about the baby's death. If the family offers information, listen with understanding.
  • Don't tell them what they should feel or do. Don't impose your religious or spiritual views on them.
  • Don't change the subject when they mention their baby.
  • Don't point out that at least they have another child, or could have more children in the future.
  • Don't blame anyone for the death. Don't make comments which suggest that the care at home, at the childcare provider's, in the emergency room, hospital or wherever was inadequate.
  • Don't avoid mentioning the baby's name out of fear of reminding them of their pain.
  • Don't say "you ought to be feeling better by now" or anything else which implies a judgment about their feelings, or sets time expectations or limits their healing process.


  1. thanks, steph. your friends are so lucky to have you and mike. you guys are such real, genuine people and i'm sure you've been so supportive and loving.

  2. wonderful pointers - for anyone who has lost someone.

  3. Such good advice Steph. This is true for anyone who has lost anyone.
    Love and hugs

  4. Such great advice. When my sister died I remember my mom just WANTING people to talk about Nicole. She doesn't want people to avoid the subject. Like them not mentioning her will make my mom forget she's lost a daughter.
    And the part about not forgetting the siblings- good! I remember people constantly asking me how my parents were- which is understandable- but sometimes I wanted someone to say "How are you doing?" because I was grieving too.
    Great advice.

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  6. Stephanie,

    You are so awesome. I've never been in the situation where I had to know what to do or say, but when I hear of the heartbreaking news that your friends are suffering, it's nice to know what is appropriate. I'm sure there will be a day when someone I know loses someone and I will value this advise. They are so lucky to have you as a friend.
    I am so sorry for the loss of baby Gus. My prayers are with you and your friends.


  7. Wonderful advise. One more thing to add to the helping part,
    Don't say you "wish" there was something you could do to help. Do something! If there are dirty dishes in the sink, do them. If the floor needs vacuumed, pick a vacuum and do it without being asked.
    One of the most special things anyone did for me when my Mom was dying was pack me a sack lunch to take on the airplane. Simple, but thoughtful and that gesture has never been forgotten.

  8. I thought of a couple of more things:
    I remember when my sister died people brought a ton of paper goods- plates, cups, forks & spoons, napkins, etc... So, along with dinners from friends we didn't have any dishes we had to do.
    Another person brought my parents a roll of stamps because there are so many thank you cards, etc... to mail. It was something so small, but very thoughtful.

  9. steph,

    i am praying for you and your friend right now. lu filled me in on the details. i am so sorry.

    my social worker hubby says the book "how to survive the loss of a love" is excellent. i will send on to you.

    i love you, steph!


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