Sunday, January 13, 2013

What to say when someone losses baby & What not to say!

I felt the need to blog about this having talked to many others who have lost babies who are consumed by things other have/haven't said to them. I should point out that I have not been hurt by things people I know have said because I understand the panic of not knowing what to say but for other parents this seems to be a real big issue.

I think this comes down to awareness. I don't think anyone means to be hurtful but sometimes it comes across this way. Most people don't know what to say - that's fine. Put your arms around them instead and tell them you're sorry for their loss. The combined gesture said everything to me. Sometimes someone just being near me did the trick. Just don't hide from them.

One of the most important things is to acknowledge their baby. They are parents now whether they have other children at home or not. No matter how much time has passed since you have seen that person acknowledge their loss and the existence of their baby the next time you see them in person. It's awful to say, but I remember every person in my life who I have bumped into since Olivia's death that hasn't said a word about her. No hug, no I'm sorry, no acknowledgement that my baby was on this earth. I know it's because they don't know what to say but it's very hurtful none the less. 

What not to say in passing: (this list is not exhaustive, just from my experience. I have had some of these thoughts myself but it's usually not ok for someone else to say them out loud).

*She's better off - you pretty much can't say anything worse
*She's in a better place - the only place a baby should be is with his/her parents
*At least she wasn't full term - makes no difference, after 24 weeks a baby can live outside the womb so it's no consolation. One woman said this to me and I wanted to plant her one.
*At least you have another child - no consolation for the loss of  your baby, each child is a different human being. 

I have been to a few baby bereavement group sessions in the past 6 months and what couples talk about every time is how upset they are at what someone said to them. There are leaflets available from A Little Lifetime Foundation for families and friends and also one for work colleagues, to show people the best way to respond to such a disaster. No one knows what to do in these situations.

The absolute worst thing you can do - is say nothing at all. Yet it happens too often.This is one I have been on the receiving end of quite a few times.

Have you had someone say something insensitive to you? How did you deal with it?


  1. It is a terrible thing to loose a baby.speaking as a person who has no children,from my side it is difficult to know how to respond to someone who has lost a baby. I think it is best to acknowledge the obvious and say the obvious. "sorry to hear of your loss of your baby, and I hope you will be ok". Sadly this is becoming much more or a regular (not sure if that is the right word) occurrence, or maybe I am in the "baby bracket age" and notice it more.Rambling a bit. Amy, hope you and your family are doing ok after loosing your baby. I was sad to hear it. J

  2. J, thanks so much for your comment. What you said is so true. I wish everyone responded in the way you would. x

  3. I still remember every single person who didn't acknowledge that fact we had two sons, and they died. I think about it daily. My husband and I attended his brother's wedding just 5 weeks after I gave birth and I was apprehensive about the amount of condolences we would get. What I didn't expect was that out of all the people we knew there, only 2 would mention it. Everyone else acted completely normal, as if I'd never even been pregnant.

    All I wanted was a simple, 'I'm so sorry.' Just those three little words make such a huge difference. I know people can find it hard what to say, but that's all that's needed. I can't understand how such a life-changing defining experience can simply be ignored. Even by family members.

    So far I've been too scared to visit a SANDS support group, but I feel it's something I'd like to do. Did you find it helpful? I'm a member of quite a few online support groups but a real life setting may be more beneficial and my husband can take part too. x