5 Ways to Support Others Through Pregnancy & Infant Loss

At some point in our lives, we will be faced with supporting a friend through loss. Even though grief is inevitable in all of our lives, we are left wondering “What should I say?” “What should I do?” “How can I support my friend?”

Here is a list of 5 ways you can support others through loss.

1. Practice Empathy

Be empathic, not sympathetic. Be willing to sit in the roughness of grief, don’t sugarcoat it. Let them know their feelings are valid, and that you are holding space for them. Watch the video by Bréne Brown on empathy – it’s an eye-opener.

2. Don’t Say Stupid s#%*

Do not use “at least” statements – at least you already have one, at least you know you can get pregnant.

Do not tell them not to worry – especially if they are pregnant after loss, they have every reason to worry.

Don’t use cliche statements – god needed another angel, everything happens for a reason.

Instead say things like, “I’m so sorry this is difficult for you, you are not alone”; “I really don’t know what to say right now, but I am so glad you told me. I am here with you.”

Acknowledge the fact that it’s difficult, don’t try to sugarcoat it, and be okay with not having to say anything.

3. Take Cues from the Griever

Some statements are helpful for some people and not helpful for others – especially when it comes to religious clichés. Take cues from the griever and pick up on the language they are using. If they are not religious or are not into spirituality, do not use religious clichés. Do not tell them god has a better plan – when all they want is their baby back in their arms; god did not cause their baby to die.

Also, read the griever’s cues if they need space or need to talk. If you are reaching out and they haven’t responded to you, don’t be offended. If it seems like they don’t want to talk about their loss, don’t push them. Change the subject.

Give them space to navigate their grief, and don’t get offended if they don’t show up to events, sometimes it can be too overwhelming.

4. Help Practically

Organize a meal train. Drop off groceries. Offer to help with the kids. Drive them to appointments. Don’t be afraid to ask them what they need, and follow through if and when they ask. For more practical suggestions head to my post How to Practically Support a Friend through Pregnancy & Infant Loss.

5. Educate Yourself

The best thing you can do is educate yourself about grief. Read pregnancy loss stories and other grief journeys to help better understand what people are going through. Everyone is different, everyone deals differently, and everyone has different needs. It’s important to have some understanding of what grievers go through if you want to be there for someone who is grieving. So do your research and don’t expect your griever to teach you. Head here for some of my top book suggestions, or download my Pregnancy and Infant Loss Resource Guide.

The most important thing to remember is you can’t fix this for your friend. You can’t take the pain away and you can’t bring their loved one back. Your friend needs you to simply listen and hold space for them to grieve.

I hope you find these suggestions helpful. If you have any more suggestions for what has been helpful or not helpful for you let me know in the comments below. I would love to hear!

Written by Melissa Sulley

Hi, I’m Melissa! I am a Certified Pregnancy & Infant Loss Coach, Pregnancy & Infant Loss Doula, owner of josiah+co., and a fellow bereaved parent. ⁠I am the mother of three children earth-side and seven children waiting for me in the stars. I am passionate about sharing my personal journey through grief and the tools I've learned along the way to empower you to navigate through the difficult waters of loss. You can find me writing often about recurrent loss, pregnancy/parenting after loss, and secondary losses such as loss of relationships, loss of identity, and loss of faith/religion.

Learn more about Melissa Sulley here

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