An hour before I gave birth, a midwife held my hand and a Doctor looked at me with tears in her eyes. They had to tell us that they could only find one heartbeat, that one of our girls had died. From that moment on, we started our journey as baby loss parents.
Sadly, this is a title that begins to define you as parents and as people. We were lucky enough to have good friends and family around us, but also people that were honest and told us they genuinely didn’t know what to do or say.
I want to share with you exactly how to support parents after a stillbirth.
Help with the practical things
More than likely the parents have gone through one of the most traumatic times of their lives. In our case, we got to spend a precious 24 hours with our baby girl whilst our other baby girl was fighting for her life in an incubator. We then walked away from the hospital with no babies.
After such a trauma you can’t think straight let alone think about things like food or cleaning. If you can offer that to the parents, I guarantee they will be grateful.
Don’t forget the Dads
It is easy when it comes to baby loss, to focus all of your attention on the Mum. But the Dad is going through their own journey of grief too. They’re bound to need a hug and for someone to check if they are alright, as well. They often put pressure on themselves to be strong for everyone around them, but they have been through an awful experience and need just as much love.
There is no right or wrong thing to say to a parent that has lost a baby and they may not want to talk straight away, but make sure they know you are there to listen when & if they do.
There isn’t anything you can say to make it better or to make their pain go away, but they may well need to vent. They might be sad, angry or a mixture of both but just be there with a cup of tea and a hug.
One thing that helps with my grief is to remember important dates and to keep talking about her every day. It really means a lot to me when other people remember too. A text message on their due date or birthday really will go a long way.
The emotions that come with losing a baby are isolating and it can be a very lonely process for parents. Having friends and family around to support them is one of the most important things to help with their grief journey.
Don’t fear saying or doing the wrong thing, just be there.