Give the parents the opportunity to talk if they wish. Listen to what they are experiencing. Cry if you feel like crying, it shows you care. If they cry, it is because they need to!Everyone is devastated on hearing about the death of a baby. The effects of grief, pain, loss and isolation experienced by parents, families and friends can be overwhelming.
A baby may be stillborn, i.e. die before birth, or die shortly after birth which is termed neonatal death. To these parents, this child is a real person and a member of their family and the grief that they experience may be much deeper than other people realise.
An event which was supposed to bring a new member to the family with much joy and happiness has now brought great loss and sadness and most parents are left feeling feel shocked and numbed. It is difficult for them to take in what has happened and disbelief can engulf them. Many parents experience feelings of guilt and failure. Feelings of isolation may exist as nobody else seems to fully understand the situation. Quite often parents may feel jealous and bitter. It may be hard for them to be around someone they know who is pregnant or has a very young baby. It is quite common for feelings of anger and loss to go hand in hand. Some parents feel intense anger against many people for many different reasons.
You can help by contacting parents and showing your concern. If you are pregnant or you have a small baby, contact the parents and ask if you can visit. Listen and be guided by their responses.
Give the parents the opportunity to talk if they wish. Listen to what they are experiencing. Cry if you feel like crying, it shows you care. If they cry, it is because they need to!
If the parents have a photograph of their baby, look at it. If their baby has a name, call the baby by his or her name. Encourage the parents to give the baby a name if they have not done so.
There are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ words. Parents want to know that you are there for them to help ease their pain in any way you can.
- Sit and Listen
- Say you are Sorry
- Be Sensitive
- Talk about their baby
Do not patronise. Do not try to lessen their grief with statements like “you are young, you have plenty of time”, “you are lucky you have other children”. This does not work.
If the parents blame someone for the death of their baby, just listen!
Do not say “I know how you feel” unless you have also lost a baby.
There is nothing wrong in saying ‘I’m so sorry – I just don’t know what to say…’
Do not give them advice, just listen.
Parents may find that they need to talk to someone other than family and friends (who may themselves feel that there is little more they can do to help).
Feileacain can help parents get in touch with the kind of support that is right for them.