View Full Version : Friends had stillborn baby... what can I do?

05-17-2008, 07:45 AM
A dear friend who lives far from me called to say he and his wife lost their baby. She was full-term, was having contractions, and the baby just had no heartbeat. She had to go through labor anyway, knowing he was gone. My heart is broken for them. They're planning a funeral, but it's across the country, so I won't be there. Any ideas for something I could do for them or send to them, aside from flowers?

05-17-2008, 07:53 AM
A letter or card that lets you talk to them a bit? And lets them see your handwriting and know you're there, even if you're not there physically... cause it seems like when you're grieving, personal connections with people help a lot...

ETA: That was me "being a boy" in communication style, and trying to answer the practical question. My heart does go out to you and to them, Jenna, I just didn't think to say it.

05-17-2008, 07:53 AM
Oh I'm so very sorry. I can't imagine the pain. This happened to my step-sister a long time ago, and to my SIL more recently. (both babies were boys) The thing that stands out most to me, is that both mothers remember the lost child on his birthday, and occasionally mention him by name as if he had already been part of the family. Which of course, he had.
It is very much the loss of a child.
Flowers and a card would probably be perfect, unless they have mentioned a charity for donations. And remember the month, and send extra hugs every year.

nancy sv
05-17-2008, 07:54 AM
Oh gosh. I have no suggestions at all - but I will pray for peace for them. I can't imagine the pain they are going through right now.

05-17-2008, 07:55 AM
When a co-worker of mine lost her nearly full-term daughter, she asked that donations be made in her baby's name to a local charity that helped moms of sick infants. Maybe you could do something like that? It's a hard thing, because really, what they need the most is to know you're there for them when they need a shoulder to cry on.

But it helps us to give them something tangible, too.

Soccer Mom
05-17-2008, 07:56 AM
If they have a charity that is dear to their heart, that would be a nice memorial. ETA: cross posted with Patti.

05-17-2008, 08:01 AM
I am so sorry to hear this. An Internet friend of mine whose daughter was stillborn is the director of the Shining Light Fund. I know they provide mother's bracelets for women who have had a stillborn baby. You might make a donation to it in your friend's name and request a bracelet for her. Here's a link to the Web site for more details. This group does a lot of good work for women who have lost children.


Jersey Chick
05-17-2008, 08:01 AM
Oh... that is terrible... I'm so sorry...

05-17-2008, 08:24 AM
How very sad. Write a poem for them and they'll know it came from your heart.

Years ago when my sister lost her husband she had a close friend who sent her card frequently, maybe once or every two weeks. More along the lines of "Thinking of You" types. She said it helped her a lot.

When someone loses a loved one there are lots of people around at the time, but it's the aftermath that can be hard. So maybe do a card every so often so they know you are still there for them.

05-17-2008, 08:28 AM
That is so sad, Jenna. Prayers go out to them. Know you'll find the right thing to do for them.

05-17-2008, 08:31 AM
About ten years ago, this happened to a friend of mine. I went and got her a little trunk (like an old school pressed tin trunk) and told her, "This is for the things that you want to put aside and keep."

She ended up putting the baby book, the little newborn outfits, a couple of toys, a rattle, the embroidered coverelet and the ultrasound pictures and stuff into it.

I saw her last year. She told me that every year on her daughter's birthday, she sat down with that little trunk and went through the things she'd put aside. I don't know if this would be an option for your friend, but mine said, "I wouldn't have forgiven myself if I'd given all of Andrea's (the baby's) things away."

By the way, my friend now has three healthy, thriving kids of her own.

And in the long run, sometimes the best thing you can give a friend who's grieving is an ear. just sayin'...

Jersey Chick
05-17-2008, 08:34 AM
I think that sounds like a wonderful idea - it's concrete, and can be put away until mom and dad are ready to see it.

05-17-2008, 09:07 AM
Thank you so much. These are great ideas. I also remembered that there's a wonderful group of photographers who volunteer to go to the hospital or funeral to take photos of babies who are dying or who have died... http://www.nowilaymedowntosleep.org/ I can't even imagine. What beautiful hearts these photographers have.

05-17-2008, 09:14 AM
I think that sounds like a wonderful idea - it's concrete, and can be put away until mom and dad are ready to see it.

I really knew this girl--she was like a sister to me. I knew that she wouldn't be able to bear to save the baby things for her 'next' baby, and I also knew she'd never forgive herself if she got rid of them all. So when I gave her the trunk, I stayed with her while she picked the things to go in it. We cried, I got her drunk (of course--I'm nothing if not predictable) and when her husband got home, we put her to bed. While she slept, we packed up the rest of the baby's things. She ultimately donated them to the battered women's shelter in town.

But as I said--I REALLY knew this girl and knew how she would react later after the first shock of grief was over. It may not be an option for Jenna's friend.

And yes, Jenna, those photographers have serious hearts of gold. :)

05-17-2008, 09:18 AM
I think my friends would be just the same way. I'll have to ship it to them, though, so maybe I'd better tell them to hang onto a few special items to put in it.

05-17-2008, 09:30 AM
It's a hard place to be. You can't bear to look at the things you collected for your much-wanted and long-awaited baby, but by the same token you can't stand the thought of giving them away. It was the only way I could think of that Lori could manage to do both; keep the most precious and specific treasures--but to have them out of sight...if that makes sense. I think the saddest thing she put into the trunk was the coverlet--her grandmother had hand quilted it and embroidered it with the baby's name.

Old Hack
05-17-2008, 12:18 PM
In 1999 James, my second son, was born at 22 weeks gestation. He died soon after. It was terrible.

What we wanted afterwards was to talk about him. What very few people were able to do was talk with us about him. So I'd say to anyone experiencing this from the outside to be open. Listen. Sympathise.

The keepsake box is a fabulous idea. We have a little box of stuff for James. Including a couple of photos of him, which I treasure.

After the mists had lifted a little, we decided to sponsor a child in Africa. If James had lived we'd have spent a whole lot more than 20 a month on him, so why not pass the money on to where it can do some good?

Every year on his birthday we try to do a nice family thing: we had a picnic one year, in the sun; this year, it fell on a Friday so our boys got a lot of ice-cream, and stayed up really late. Just something. It all helps.

05-17-2008, 01:10 PM
After the funeral (and all the food that goes with it), I think it would be really nice if you could find a nice place to delivery a couple of dinners to them. You could probably find a place on line. Keep in mind too, that not only is she grieving, she is recovering from Labor and Delivery - not having to prepare a meal or go to the grocery store is a blessing in those times.

05-17-2008, 01:11 PM

has some good sites with poems for such sad times

my sympathies

05-17-2008, 03:05 PM
My sister in law lost her first child, my first niece, a girl. She did die in their arms a few hours after birth, but I sent them a locket from James Avery Silversmith --it is oval, I had them engrave their daughter's initials on it on the front and the date on the back. They cut a piece of her hair and put it in the locket next to a picture of the baby.

She still wears it. She has had three children subsequently.

My heart aches for them. This is pain beyond pain. They will be in my prayers.

05-17-2008, 03:07 PM
A long, heartfelt letter. With lots and lots of signatures from friends and family. Let them know that the loss of their baby was not the loss of all things good.

Devil Ledbetter
05-17-2008, 03:18 PM

I am so, so sorry for them. :cry: From experience: call on the phone. Don't be afraid to talk about it with them. Don't worry you'll remind them. Believe me, nothing, absolutely nothing else will be on their minds for a very long time. Letters are great, but even a card is appreciated. I kept a scrapbook full of letters, cards, ultrasound pictures, everything we had pertaining to our son.

Refer to their baby by name, always.

If you don't know what to say, say that you don't know what to say. It's honest, and it's always better than saying nothing. Let them talk as much as they need to and don't change to a "safer" subject, even if it's uncomfortable for you.

Some of the hardest things to hear at a time like this may be "It's God's will" and "God never gives us more than we can handle" and "God needed this baby more than you did." I was a serious believer at the time of my loss, and honestly, I'd have rather been attacked with a butcher knife than hear that it was God's brilliant idea. The best thing to do is follow their lead with any God-talk. If they're comforting themselves that it was God's will, okay, but other people declaring this can be excruciating.

Someone suggested a small remembrance box, and that's a lovely gift idea. So is a piece of jewelry with the baby's birthstone, or a sweet little ornament, perhaps with the baby's name. If you lived closer, I'd suggest a perennial plant or tree to honor the baby.

Don't bring up "trying again." Nothing will replace this baby, ever. One thing people trying to comfort the grieving sometimes forget is that they didn't just want a baby, they wanted this baby. Although no one else knew this baby, they did. Your friend carried this child under her heart for nine months, and a big part of the pain of this loss will be that others didn't know her baby the way she did. I can't overemphasize the importance of respecting that, and Jenna, I know you'll respect it because you're one compassionate lady.

If/when they do try again, it's probably going to be much scarier (and take a ton more courage) than your average pregnancy, and stir up a storm of painful emotions. By no means will it mean they're over it.

Keep this child's birth date on your calendar and always remember that your friends will be grieving at that time of year, every year, even years from now, when they're happy, if/when they've had more children. They will always grieve this child. Your acknowledgment of this in the years to come, your continued willingness to talk about it, will mean the world to them.


05-17-2008, 04:57 PM
This is one of those events in life that just sucks the air from my lungs. I'm so sorry to hear this. One thing you could do, Jenna, is make a donation to St. Jude's Childrens Research Hospital in the name of your friends. This place is all about helping children with major health issues, regardless of the parents' ability to pay. Another group that helps children with health issues is the Shriners, but I don't know much about them (including the percentage of donations that are siphoned off for "administrative costs.") A little research would clear that up, though, and I don't have any reason to suspect the Shriners are unusual in that regard.

Jean Marie
05-17-2008, 06:13 PM
Happened to my mom. It's a very tough thing to go through, for everyone. I would of had a sister and often wonder what that would have been like.

As for my mom, she went through quite a depression afterwards, although that was back when there wasn't quite the understanding that there is, now.

Jenna, always speak from your heart. You can never go wrong if you do.

05-17-2008, 06:22 PM
After the funeral (and all the food that goes with it), I think it would be really nice if you could find a nice place to delivery a couple of dinners to them. You could probably find a place on line. Keep in mind too, that not only is she grieving, she is recovering from Labor and Delivery - not having to prepare a meal or go to the grocery store is a blessing in those times.
I was thinking the same thing as Trish. The practical things that the grieving heart might forget: cleaning, food, groceries. She's just gone through LD, which is a trial all on its own. To add the loss of a child on top of it? I can't imagine. But the survival needs have to be pretty low on the list.

Send extra hugs from us, Jenna.