Writer / Sarah Wenzel, RN and Bereavement Coordinator at IU Health North Hospital
Supporting a loved one through loss can be difficult to navigate, especially in the case of pregnancy or infant loss. It may seem like there aren’t enough comforting words or kind gestures to make someone feel better, but just offering unconditional love and support can mean so much. Never forget the power of physical presence – just being available as a listening ear or shoulder to cry on is so helpful.
Recognize that healing is not a linear process
You shouldn’t expect every day to be the same. Encourage their positive outlook on a good day, but don’t be surprised if the next is tough. Be prepared for your loved one to experience a wide range of emotions on any given day. Keep in mind that there may be many tough days for them (Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, other holidays, their due date, anniversary of the loss, etc.) and check in on them during those times. It is also important to remember that people experience grief differently and heal at different paces – so be careful not to judge them or their healing process.
Be specific when offering help
Your loved one may not want to burden you with requests, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have them. Offering to get groceries, do laundry, or make a meal will leave them with one less thing to think about. Even sending flowers can help brighten up their living space and be a reminder of your support. Be observant and anticipate needs, but try to avoid making decisions or assuming what would be helpful for your loved one and instead, talk with them about what they need.
Remember the life that was lost
There are many things one can do to honor the life of a lost baby: donate something in their memory, plant a tree in their honor, make a memento or keepsake. Journal about the experience and encourage your loved one to start one as well.
See what resources are available
Support groups are available for those who are grieving a loss. Your loved one may find comfort in community and being able to share their story with people who understand the loss they have experienced. There are many options that can suit their lifestyle with both virtual and in-person formats.
If you or someone you know has experienced a pregnancy loss and is in need of help or resources, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to get in contact with IU Health North’s Seasons Bereavement Support.