Upon the loss of a child

I’ve been following a thread on a community website which poses the question: “What can I give a friend who’s just had a stillbirth?”

The consensus was that the friend probably doesn’t need any material things at this time, just support and a shoulder to cry on – both right now and on an ongoing basis.

However, they also came up with some good suggestions for appropriate gift ideas. Here’s the pick of them:

  • An “In Loving Memory” rose plant
  • A crystal to hang in the window (it casts rainbows when it catches the sun)
  • A home-cooked meal or some fresh fruit (one correspondent noted that people often bring sugar-laden foods) 
  • Do some practical things to help, like taking her other children (if she has any) out on a trip; or doing some housework or gardening for her.

One correspondent pointed out that gifts of plants oughtn’t be too big: some people give tree saplings, which is a kind thought, but in time they tend to grow rather large, and not everybody’s yard has space for a tree.

Another has mentioned – as per her comment attached to this post - that, whatever people do, acknowledging the stillbirth is important.  If you feel uncomfortable discussing it in person, send a suitable condolence card saying how sorry you are.  But avoiding referring to the stillbirth at all, as if it had never happened – either because of your own discomfort or because you’re worried that the mother will become upset - is not a good idea.

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2 Responses to “Upon the loss of a child”

  1. Carrie Says:

    I had a stillborn baby at 35 weeks into my pregnancy. As you can imagine, it was not easy. Some people really struggle with how to handle this situation. I had many friends that were there for me, but also a few that did not know what to do, (I am assuming) because they never said one word to me about it. Not even an, “I’m so sorry this happened to you.” I don’t hold this against them because I know it is terribly awkward, but please if you can’t find the right thing to say to someone, at least acknowledge that it happened. This can be done by sending a card and signing it. It doesn’t take much, to let someone know that you care.

  2. kate200 Says:

    Thanks Carrie, you make a really good point about the importance of acknowledging a stillborn baby’s life. (And on a personal note – I’m so sorry to hear of your loss; having a stillborn baby must be so heartbreaking. I’ve had three miscarriages, but – although very sad – they could be nowhere near as devastating as a stillbirth, especially one as far along as 35 weeks. Big hugs from me to you. Kate)

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