Today is Memorial Day which honors the memory our lost loved ones. In life, we experience many kinds of losses -the deaths of a spouse, child, family member, beloved friend or cherished pet. The loss of a job, a divorce or our children moving away. Some of these are talked about openly. Others are not.
One loss which is rarely discussed is when a baby dies either during pregnancy or soon after delivery. Maybe you or someone close to you has gone through this. Whether it occurs early or late in pregnancy, does not lessen its importance or impact on the woman/couple. While losses after 20 weeks are generally more traumatic, this isn’t always so. For couples who are struggling with fertility issues, each failure to conceive is a loss not only of becoming pregnant but also their dream of the child/family they hoped for.
If you’re supporting a woman/couple who’s going through a pregnancy/neotnatal loss, never assume that you know what their experience of grief is. Many times remarks made with good intentions like “These things happen for a reason or I know things will get better,” are perceived as insensitive and offensive. If you’re not certain what to say, don’t say anything. When people are grieving, often what they need most is for you to just listen. You cannot take away their pain or make it hurt less but you can support them with love and compassion.