We are so sorry you are here – we guess it means that someone you love and care about has had a baby who has died. The information below is based upon our own experience and what we have gleaned from other bereaved parents we have spoken to along the way.
Secret 1: No one knows what to say – even the bereaved people! We live in a grief illiterate society
On so many occasions I have found I haven’t known what to say to Roy. When Bhai died a friend text and said ‘I don’t know what to say,’ I replied ‘nor do I mate’
Secret 2: There are no magic words – nothing you can say will make this any better, so really there is no ‘right’ thing but saying something is always better than nothing
Silence tells a grieving person that you aren’t willing to put yourself in an uncomfortable position to address their pain, worse still it communicates to them that their loss doesn’t matter.
- Say you are sorry – saying you are sorry for someone’s loss means you acknowledge their pain;
- Keep it short – grief is exhausting and overwhelming, keeping communication short and simple means the bereaved person can process and respond;
- Acknowledge and validate – their feelings are valid, if they feel like their loss is the worst loss in the world, please know it is because it IS the worst loss in their world – avoid silverlining or judging their feelings;
- Listen and don’t say much – being with someone and holding space for them in their pain and simply validating their difficult feelings is one of the most powerful things you can do;
- Say their baby’s names – like all parents they have spent hours deciding on a name for the person they love most in the world, please use their names;
- Gentle curiosity – parents typically love a chance to talk about their children, this is no different for bereaved parents but we rarely get asked, we have appreciated it when people have asked the stories behind our babies’ names or who they look like;
- Be specific – ‘How are you?” is very overwhelming for a grieving person, whereas ‘how is today feeling?’ Or how are you spending this weekend? Are more manageable questions;
- Reflect back – use their words, with Lenny it was very clear he was born and then died, Bhai died at 18 weeks gestation, we use the phrase died rather than ‘miscarriage’ because it feels right for us;
- Let them know you care – you are thinking of them and their children and say this regularly; and
- Reassurance – that their babies won’t be forgotten. That they matter and their babies matter.