Seven tips for helping someone cope with the extraordinary loss of a child.
Losing a child to miscarriage or stillborn is a traumatic time for any parent. Here’s some advice on how to help those close to you through their loss.
Talk about the baby
Make sure you let those affected can talk about the baby if and when they need to. They have just suffered a bereavement of a child, and it is important to recognise this. Use the baby’s name when talking about them too.
Rose Duval, who lost her daughter Grace at 21-weeks-old last July, says: “It was helpful having friends that called me to make sure I was okay, that talked about Grace and used her name and didn’t talk like it didn’t happen.
‘The most important thing is to recognise the person who has lost a child as a mother. My daughter had died. Having the support network was the most important thing.”
Say your farewells
The parents can choose to hold a funeral or memorial service for the child, which is an important step in the grieving process. It can be a nice to bring a card or small gift to the service. This helps the parents as it acknowledges the baby in a physical way and can be a keepsake.
Help out where you can
Support the family by helping in a practical way. They are grieving and may need help with cooking and the housework. Many couples struggle to do day-to-day tasks to start with, as with any death.
Emma McLeod from Stillbirth Foundation Australia says: “Practical help is good. They are going to be very upset so being given a meal, or some help around the house would be absolutely fabulous. Help in the way you would with any death.”
Reach out to others
There are dedicated support groups, many of them run by parents who have experienced stillbirth themselves, who can offer help and advice on dealing with grief.
Information about stillbirths can be found on the Stillbirth foundation website, and the Australia and New Zealand Stillbirth Alliance site.