7 Things You Can Say To Someone Who Has Just Lost Their Baby

Words are really powerful and even more so after loss. What you do or don't say can really determine how a grieving parent feels about you moving forward.

There are SO many negative comments that I have gotten since losing Onyx and while dwelling on the negative comments I started to wonder "what could they have said instead?". That got me thinking about the positive comments that I have gotten, the ones that have really helped me during the immediate period after Onyx passed away.

Here are 7 things you can say to someone who has just lost their baby:

*These are things that have been helpful to me. While they have also been helpful to many others, every parent is different so one should not assume that just because these are helpful for some grieving parents, they are going to be helpful to everyone. Everyone in a different stage of their healing journey. 

1. "What's their name?"

Baby names are a huge topic. When you're pregnant everyone is curious about your name ideas and one of the first questions people ask when you announce the birth is "what's their name?". Just because a baby passes away does not mean their name no longer has any significance. If anything, their baby's name is now one of the most important names in their lives. Ask about their baby's name.

*Know that they may not have gotten a chance to pick a name for their baby so this could be a difficult question for a parent to answer. In that case, honor their feelings and call their baby whatever they use. For an example, "Baby (last name)" is a common name for baby's who are lost early in pregnancy. Let them know that even if their baby doesn't have a name, they still matter.

2. "What's the story behind their name?"

After a baby is born everyone wants to know how their name was chosen and this shouldn't stop just because the baby is no longer here. This question is a great conversation starter and it allows the parent(s) to take the lead in the conversation. A friend asked me the meaning behind Onyx's name and I can't quite put into words how it made me feel except to say that answering it felt really beautiful.

3. "I don't know what to say but I'm so sorry."

This is a very simple way to respond to the trauma that is pregnancy and infant loss. If you don't know what to say, say that.

4. "I have a gift card for you."

Giving gift cards is sometimes looked down upon in terms of gift giving goes because there's not a lot of effort put into it but it's so different with loss. After loss the last thing you want to do is go grocery shopping or cook. A gift card for a place that delivers is great because sometimes you don't want to go out to a restaurant and see people. Also, with loss can come a huge financial burden so a gift card can mean a lot.

6. "Do you have any pictures? I'd be honored to see them."

Seeing a dead baby can be shocking, especially if you had no idea what to expect. Many parents don't share photos because they're worried that the person will cringe or say something negative. Still, all parents should be given the opportunity to dote on their babies. Ask to see pictures and comment about them as you would if they were sharing a photo of a living baby. Comment about little things you notice like "look at those tiny feet!" or "they look so precious with that blanket wrapped around them!".

*Sometimes parents don't have pictures of their babies so this can be a triggering question. In that case, give space for the parents to feel whatever they're feeling. If you know that they lost their baby early in pregnancy before they could get an ultrasound photo, I'd avoid this question.

7. "I have a card for you."

Handwritten letters aren't very common nowadays so getting a card can be really special. When writing your note in the card, don't simply say "thinking of you" - include something personal to your relationship with the family.

There are so many more helpful things that you can say to a grieving parent but for now, this list is what has helped me and I hope it can help others too.