A simple "I'm sorry for your loss" acknowledges a person's baby and their loss. This is the most important thing in their life right now - and they have just lost that. So these five words mean a LOT.
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It is common for people not to know what to say. It is an awkward topic and very painful. Often there are just no words to express the intense sorrow of losing a baby.
Below are some suggestions on what you can do and say to help support a person suffering such a loss. These suggestions have come from personal experience and from other grieving parents.
Some people say nothing and avoid the parent, which has the outcome of being more hurtful than anything they could say (and this seems to be remembered most). If you are unsure and don’t know what to say, tell them exactly that - "I don't know what to say. I am so sorry for your loss". That is better than avoiding them. Chances are they don't know what to say or do either but your presence and support will mean a lot.
Remember, their baby and the loss they have just experienced is the most important thing to them right now. By saying nothing, you are not acknowledging their loss, their pain, their baby. It's okay to not know what to say, or to think of any words that can be comforting, but ignoring it and not acknowledging it at all (ever) hurts even more.
If you are unable to say anything, send a card, an email, a text. Anything. A simple hug goes a long way too.
This simple sentence speaks volumes. It acknowledges their loss. People often think they have to say something to make the person feel better. Sometimes there are things you can say that will help but more often than not, there are no words.
Even if you have sent a card it is nice to tell them again that you are sorry for their loss.
This simple statement breaks the ice and tells people you are open to listening. If they want to talk about it they will; if they don't then they will let you know. Some people feel that bringing it up will be upsetting. It might, but it is worse by not bringing it up at all. The reality is that grieving parents are thinking about it all the time and you are not upsetting or reminding them by bringing it up. Often parents really want to, and need to, talk about their child. It can be awkward as death is an awkward topic, and if you can't say it face to face then try and send a message in another way.
Sometimes it is just as awkward for the bereaved parent because they think everyone thinks of them as the person whose baby died. Bereaved parents can also feel like they have to shield others from their grief. Like it or not, grief is an uncomfortable topic for everyone involved.
Ask the parent how they are feeling each time you speak to them. People will generally tell you if they don't want to talk about it - and don't take that personally if they don't as emotions can change from minute to minute. You may think that you don't want to upset them by bringing it up. It will also depend on the person and your relationship to that person - use your discretion based on the situation, the environment and the timing. By asking them, at least they will know you are still thinking of them and their loss.
Even if you have nothing to say, it is nice to get an email or a text saying you are thinking of them.
Down the track it is nice to have someone ask how you are feeling once in a while as it means you have not forgotten. Even though life for you may have gone back to normal and the grieving parent seems to be doing better, the pain is still there for them.
If their baby had a name, don't be afraid to use it in conversation. Again this acknowledges their baby and loss. The parent will appreciate hearing their baby's name spoken. Avoid using clinical words like embryo or foetus. Using "it" is also not polite. "Your baby" is a nicer way of referring to their baby if they did not have a name.
Don't make it about you or give your opinion on what or why - just acknowledge their child, their pain and leave it at that.