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Women and Family Care

How friends and family can help after a baby dies

Loved ones, this is for you. It is not easy to know what to do or say to someone whose baby has died. Death reminds us all of our own humanness and mortality. Most of us would rather not think or talk about it.

However, at this painful time in the parents' lives they need to talk about the loss of their baby, their feelings and their concerns. When a baby dies, it seems more difficult to deal with than any other type of loss. The parents and their family and friends were all waiting for a joyous day. Now, the opposite has happened.

Friends and family can aid and support the parents by encouraging them to talk. Sharing this intense pain with you helps them to accept the death and to grieve. Ignoring the subject does not make it disappear, nor does it make the parents feel less pain.

In most cases, it hurts more when people will not talk about the baby's death with parents; this is often interpreted as insensitivity or disinterest. They need to know that others are willing and interested in hearing about their experience. After all, this has been one of the most tragic and devastating events in their lives.

Don't deny your own feelings and grief. As the grandparent, aunt, or uncle of this baby, or as a close family member or friend, you too were looking forward to the birth of this new person. If you are a grandparent, you may feel a double loss. Not only have you experienced the loss of a grandchild but you also must stand by feeling helpless as you watch your children suffer. Other persons close to the parents may also feel this way.

You might be tempted to push your own pain and sorrow to the background in order to help grieving parents. However if you can be honest with yourself about these feelings, and can share some of your disappointment and sadness with the parents, you may find that it will help establish a bond with them. Often it doesn't take words to convey these feelings. Being close, touching, or sharing tears can be very meaningful.

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