No parent should ever have to mourn the loss of a baby during pregnancy or infancy. If your friend or family member has lost a child at any stage, you are probably wondering how you can best help support them in their grief. The loss of a child is an immensely painful and lonely experience, and any parent who has lost a child needs support and love from those around them. If you are hoping to be a good support system for a friend or family member, it is important for you to help commemorate their baby’s life in October for Pregnancy Loss Awareness Month.
October was declared as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month in 1988 to honor and remember those who have lost a child at any stage of pregnancy or infancy.
Celebrate their Life
Sometimes the most simple act is the most meaningful. As our friend, Kristin Hernandez shares in her article “How to help a grieving mother in October,” Remembering the life of your loved one’s baby is one of the most cherished gifts you can give her.” As Kristin further shares…
“Say her baby’s name. Tell her you remember. Acknowledge their precious life by writing their name in a card, giving to a charity in their honor, or committing a random act of kindness in their memory. Remembering can be as simple as speaking her baby’s name out loud or sending a brief message that says, ‘Thinking of (baby’s name) today.’ It costs nothing, yet is a priceless gift for a bereaved mama.”
Another meaningful and heartfelt way to honor a baby is hosting a breakfast or dinner at your home in honor of their little one that they have lost. This time together can provide your friend or family member with the freedom to communally remember and grieve their child. It helps them know that you recognize what they are going through, and that you are there to support them in their heartache. It also lets them know that you acknowledge their child, and that you will create space in your life to remember their child.
Losing a child means that the parents of that child also lose the experience of celebrating the life of their child with their community. Think about it. Parents of a living child plan many events to celebrate their child (birthdays, baptisms, grandparents day, and holidays), but parents who have lost their child lose the opportunity to gather as family and friends and celebrate their child. You can come and bridge the gap for these parents by hosting a gathering intended to celebrate their child.
Before you move forward with these plans, be sure to check with the child’s parents. Everyone grieves differently, and while this might be special for some parents, it might not feel right for others. As with everything when you are supporting a grieving person, let your friends lead in how they would like to honor their baby.
If they do wish to celebrate their baby with an event, you can ask them for a guest list of attendees that includes family and friends. If they feel comfortable, you can display photos of their child, and set out a journal for family and friends to write words of love and support for the parents. You can also light a candle in the child’s memory and encircle the family in a time of prayer. Depending on the unique circumstances surrounding the loss of the child, some of this might not be appropriate, so be sure to let them have agency in what feels appropriate and honorable.
Continue to Keep their Memory Alive by Lighting a Candle in their Honor on October 15th during International Wave of Light
One of my favorite ways to honor a loved one during Infant Loss Awareness Month is by lighting a candle on October 15th during the International Wave of Light. This is a time when people across the world light a candle at 7pm in honor of children and babies lost at any stage of pregnancy or infancy. Participating in Wave of Light is simple – just light a candle in your home at 7pm in your own time zone. Share a photograph on social media or by texting it to your friends or family member who has lost their child. As you light the candle, think of the child and take a moment of silence to acknowledge their life. This event is very special to so many parents across the globe, and your participation will mean so much to the parents.
This video below explains how to participate in Wave of Light!
Be a Listening Ear for Mom and Dad
One of the most important things you can do to support the child’s parents is to just be a listening ear. You do not have to fix their infant loss (which is impossible!), and you do not have to offer platitudes. The best thing you can do is to acknowledge their grief, make space for their heartbreak, and let them share whatever emotion they may experience.
“Simply show up, even if you feel awkward or unequipped. Sit with your friend. Invite them to talk about their baby without any expectations of how much or how little they may want to share. Be okay with silence. Don’t feel like you need to fix their pain. Cry with them. Pray for them. Just be there. “I don’t have answers, but I’m here with you,” is a perfectly acceptable response and likely means so much more than any attempt at imparting advice or wisdom.”
Offer Help to the Family
You can also help support your friends who are grieving their baby with practical help. Bring them a home cooked dinner, drop them off takeout, offer to watch their kids, help them with a project they have been meaning to finish, cut their grass, or help them clean. For someone who is grieving, any physical help can make such a big difference. Grief is exhausting, and your assistance will mean the world!
Send them a Commemorative Box Gift
You can also send a beautiful loss support gift. When we started laurelbox, one of our main goals was to create heartfelt and meaningful gifts that would care for the soul and spirit of parents who were grieving the loss of a child at any stage. We have gifts that beautiful infant loss gifts, miscarriage support gifts, and child loss support gifts. We offer super sweet gifts for bereaved parents.
Parents who have lost a child treasure their baby’s handprints or footprints, which makes our Custom Handprint or Footprint Memorial Necklaces and Keychains a super special gift. We also offer a super sweet necklace and holiday ornament with the shape of a parent holding a baby. It is one of the most special and honoring gifts in the shop!
If you want to send a special candle for them to light on Wave of Light on October 15th, our I Carry Them in My Heart candle was designed to honor babies lost at any age of pregnancy or infancy. It is a super sweet and thoughtful gift for parents in October and lets them know that you remember them.
Lastly, if you have pictures of your friend’s baby, consider professionally framing one for the family to keep displayed in their home. You can also make them a keepsake shadow box or a photo album. You can also put up a photo of their child in your own home. After my friend lost her baby, I put a photo of her baby up in my bedroom to remind me to pray for her regularly and reach out. I still have a scrapbook of her sweet baby, and bring it out every year around her birthday to spend some time thinking about her and honoring her.
We hope these ideas help you as you support a friend during October’s Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month!