Losing a baby means the loss of dreams for the baby’s future. Parents may feel they were robbed of time to get to know their child. Friends and family may never have met the child.
Though infant loss is often painful and traumatic, it’s possible to find healthy ways to cope. The right therapist can help parents find ways to mourn and honor their child’s death. Therapy is not about forgetting the child or the loss; instead, the goal is to work through the pain of infant loss, move forward, and find ways to seek support from loved ones. Though life may never be the same, a good life is still possible.
Grief in response to this type of loss is normal and understandable, so loved ones should not try to rush the grieving process or encourage parents to “move on.” While it is possible to recover, parents will never forget their baby. Encouraging them to do otherwise is harmful.
Strategies to Help Someone Cope with Loss of Baby:
- Encourage your loved one to talk about the baby. Acknowledge the loss rather than hiding from it. Talk about the baby using their name.
- Talk about the baby at milestones, such as the baby’s birthday and holidays.
- Find a way to celebrate the baby’s life with their parents. For instance, help them plan a memorial service or donate to a child welfare charity in the name of the baby.
- Talk about how the baby affected your life if you met the baby. Even newborns have personalities. The baby’s smile, gentle demeanor, or desire to cuddle are all things to highlight.
- Never tell the parents another baby will replace the loss. Don’t compare the death of a baby to a miscarriage.
- Offer material support in the months following the loss. Bring meals, offer childcare for other children, or help clean the house. Don’t expect anything in return.
- Encourage other loved ones to talk about and honor the baby. If some family members are not particularly sensitive to the loss, act as a buffer.
- Be sensitive to the physical challenges of recovering from childbirth, especially if the pregnancy was difficult. Help the mother take care of her body by driving her to doctor’s appointments or going to yoga together.
- Consider helping your loved one find a support group. Being with others who have faced a similar loss can be comforting.