When a person has lost a loved one they don’t really need a lot; just people that care. Often, however, it’s hard to know how to show your love. It’s difficult to know what to say. One preacher from our area slapped my husband on the back after we lost Ashley and said, “Well, you’re young, you can have another baby!” Needless to say, he was not a comfort to us, though I’m sure he meant well. If I may, let me list some things that might help you to be a blessing to someone you may encounter that’s experienced an infant death.
- Sometimes the best thing to say is nothing. Just put your arm around the parents and tell them you’re sorry and leave it at that. If they’re believers, they know Romans 8:28. This is not the time for mini sermons. They’re hurting and just need a shoulder to cry on.
- If you have a child the age of the one that has died, be sensitive about bringing it around the parents for a while.
- Use the baby’s name when referring to him/her. This is a sweet reminder that this child is a real person and is now alive in heaven.
- If the couple has other children offer to babysit so they can spend some time together alone.
- An ornament in the baby’s memory is a touching gift. I look for baby bootee ornaments and then write the child’s name and year of their birth/death on the bottom.
- Give a live plant or tree to plant in the baby’s memory.
- Listen for opportunities to meet special needs. My mother and mother-in-law bought a beautiful soft blanket to wrap Ashley in. We had no preemie clothes and the funeral director had told us he would wrap her in gauze (not exactly a comforting thought). They made a diligent search for the perfect blanket. This touched my heart beyond words.
- Take the mom out for coffee or lunch and just let her talk. Ask questions about the baby’s features, the reason the couple chose its name – topics that will allow her to remember her baby without digging for details of the cause of death, etc. She may wish to talk about that, but let her bring it up.
- Remember the couple on the year anniversary with a card, and again, use the baby’s name.
- Try not to share your own story at this time, if you have one. Even if your situation was similar, no one can really say, “I know how you feel” because everyone’s circumstances are different.
Grieving parents are not touchy people that you cannot help; it just requires some sensitivity to know how to help. I pray these tips will guide you the next time you encounter someone who is hurting.