It is a tragic fact of neonatal nursing that many of the babies are born too sick or too early to survive. Fortunately, the death of a baby is rare, but that does not make it easier to bear when a baby dies. Pregnancy & Infant loss can take years to heal.
There’s no cure for the loss of a baby, and nothing can make the pain disappear. 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.”
There are five stages of grief that many parents will go through—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. But these are far from the only feelings that parents undergo after the death of a baby
Strategies to Help One With Infant Loss
Family & close confidants can help parents who have suffered infant loss.
- Encourage the person in question 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. If some family members are not particularly sensitive to the loss, act as a buffer.
- 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.
- Another baby can never replace the loss. Don’t compare the death of a baby to a miscarriage. The death of a premature baby multiplies the grief exponentially. It is natural to feel like your grief is overwhelming, or that you will never feel normal again.
- 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.
- Be sensitive to the physical challenges of recovering from infant loss, 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. Some therapists specialize in bereavement therapy that helps parents understand their emotions & work through the loss of their child.
Eventually, the parent will slowly start to feel like the grief isn’t so painful. But, your baby will always be a part of you and you may always feel grief over your baby’s death.