October has baby loss awareness week from 9th to 15th October. The loss of a pregnancy, a stillborn baby, or the death of an infant is devastating. Sadly, these things happen more often than many people will realise. The facts are there, and 1 in 4 pregnancies will end up in miscarriage. Around 1% of births end in a stillbirth, and over 5 out of 1,000 pregnancies will result in a baby’s death before their first birthday.
When those around you don’t know what to do to support, it really can feel like a lonely place to be and when there is no meaningful support, it can make the loss feel worse. Something like a miscarriage, for example, is often not spoken about. There’s no funeral or burial; it is all just suddenly over and many people haven’t shared the pregnancy news at that point. So for those going through it, it can feel very lonely, upsetting, and isolating.
Friends and family if they do know, often aren’t sure what is best to do for those that are mourning. There can be a feeling of not wanting to say the wrong thing, but for the mourning parents, the silence can be deafening.
It can be quite natural to not know what to do. Dealing with death can be tricky, and it can be particularly tricky and heartbreaking when it comes to the death of a baby. There can be a fear of not knowing what to say or fear of saying something wrong. But it shouldn’t be up to the mourner to feel like they have to mask their pain in order to make other people more comfortable.
One of the things that you can do is ask what you can do to help. Ask the grieving couple how to support them and it can make a difference in how they cope. Not everyone will give you answers to that question, though, so following these steps can help:
Allow space for grieving
You might feel like you want to protect the person that is in pain, and that is completely normal. However, we can’t take that pain away, and in a way, it needs to be experienced as it is their reaction to the love they had for the baby who is now no longer here. Sometimes you just need to physically be there to be comforting, rather than saying anything.
Allow those mourning to speak, and then listen
Asking them how they’re doing or what you can do to help can be all that they need to know that other people are caring for them. If they have named the child, for instance, if they died after birth or during, then asking about them and using their name is comforting. It can be special to hear the baby’s name being used out loud.
Give practical help
This is something that you might find easier to do, because it involves doing things you already know how to do. When someone is grieving, it can take all their energy to get out of bed and shower, let alone think about what is for dinner. You could make a meal or drop some groceries off for them. You might want to offer help with funeral arrangements if there is one, or to pick up things for it like flowers or food. If they have other children, offering to babysit could help so that they can just rest and nap. Think about practical things that will be helpful as you’ll be making a difference without having to feel awkward.
Keep checking in
Grieving isn’t something that stops.Even though it can get easier with time, it is always there. There can be support right away, but after a little while, weeks or days, the support can disappear and feel isolating. Keep checking in and making sure that they’re ok. They may feel like they want to talk more about it as time goes on, which can be quite healing.
Talking therapy in Surrey and online
It is good to talk, and if you or anyone you know has experienced grief or loss or a baby, then please get in touch with us and book online today. We have a team that can help you to work through this, and can give you strategies to cope if required.