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Friend had a stillborn- how do I help?

(48 Posts)
bellweather Tue 12-Dec-17 17:41:03

My friend just had a stillborn, how do I support her? I don’t want to put my foot in it and want to handle the situation sensitively

Just need some tips on how to handle the situation.. should we send flowers? I’ve offered to go over when she’s ready. I have a 10 month old DS as well so I don’t know if that will trigger her

It’s all so terribly sad sad

LadyWithLapdog Tue 12-Dec-17 17:45:31

I am so sorry to hear this. When she's ready to see you, I'd say ask about the stillborn baby and the birth, acknowledge both the baby's existence and her experience of giving birth. Flowers are appropriate, I think. Also a thoughtful card. Maybe leave DS at home when you first see her. Not so she's not triggered but to be able to give her attention rather than be distracted by your baby. I hope she is in contact with SANDS.

LadyWithLapdog Tue 12-Dec-17 17:46:24

I'd also call the baby a stillborn baby rather than just stillborn.

AnyFucker Tue 12-Dec-17 17:47:51

She had a stillborn baby sad

PinkHeart5914 Tue 12-Dec-17 17:50:07

Sadly I’ve been in your friends position, so I can speak from experience.

I would send a card with a nice thinking of you and baby x message inside and maybe a poem ( the snowdrop poem is lovely) most people would send a card for a baby that is ok so why not for a stillborn ( the cards I got mean a great deal to me now) and it’s lovely you’ve offered to go over when she’s ready as honestly she will just want kindness and someone to be listen if/when she wants to talk.

When you talk to or see her don’t avoid talking about/mentioning the baby

Don’t tell her she can “always try again”

I would also say to mark the date on your calendar for next year so you can text/call her on the day. It can be hurtful how many people forget about your baby after the event and my closest friends that remember and text me on the day mean a great deal to me as my baby isn’t forgotten.

ALemonyPea Tue 12-Dec-17 17:50:18

Start by addressing her baby as a baby, not a stillborn.

FellOutOfBed2wice Tue 12-Dec-17 17:50:35

DH and I have a friend who had a stillborn baby earlier this year. Terrible for her and her husband. We sent flowers and a card with some carefully chosen words in. She was quite open about talking about it but take your lead from your friend and see how she is.

Talith Tue 12-Dec-17 17:54:10

Ask her about the birth. She might not want to talk about it but frequently people are squeamish about asking and I expect it's all she can think about.

Talith Tue 12-Dec-17 17:55:49

Avoid platitudes. Avoid anything related to a silver lining. "You can try again/nature's way". Acknowledge she will be profoundly sad.

monkeywithacowface Tue 12-Dec-17 17:56:59

Agree that you should avoid referring to her baby as a stillborn. Ask her if/what she named her baby and refer to him or her by name.

ivykaty44 Tue 12-Dec-17 17:57:08

I would send flowers tell her you are there to listen

JustHappy3 Tue 12-Dec-17 17:57:27

Let her grieve her baby.
Use her baby's name.
Don't do anything to try to minimise or lessen her grief - avoid: you can try again, god's will, probably for the best, meant to be or stop moping or at least you know you can get pregnant.
Def put the date in your diary.
Don't ever think that you make it easier for her if you don't mention it.

mustbemad17 Tue 12-Dec-17 18:00:29

Definitely don't avoid the fact that she has just had a baby. A stillborn baby is still a baby; she will still have gone through the birth process with all it's agonies.

Take things at her pace. If she wants to talk about what has happened, let her; if she wants to discuss something else, let her.

A card/flowers is always nice. The worst thing for me was people avoiding me because me I hadn't been able to bring my baby home. It made me feel like a leper tbh

bellweather Tue 12-Dec-17 18:00:40

Apologies, I have been referring to her baby by the baby’s name, not calling her stillborn! But just used the term here for brevity but apologies for causing offence blush

Thank you for some lovely ideas,

pink heart so sorry for your loss flowers the snowdrop poem idea is good, I think I will write that down in a card for her

christinarossetti Tue 12-Dec-17 18:05:38

Everyone's different, but my first baby died this time of year and I hated receiving flowers.

I knew the thought behind them was kind, but I couldn't bear watching them die, so threw them in the compost heap.

The thoughtful cards and messages that we received - I still have all of those and they continue to bring me comfort.

Blueroses99 Tue 12-Dec-17 18:05:56

I shared this resource with my friends and colleagues so they could better understand how I was feeling when my son was stillborn. It is lovely that you are trying to support sensitively at such a difficult time

Eryri1981 Tue 12-Dec-17 18:13:11

A good friend had stillborn baby a few years ago...

Use babies name
Find a way to let her know, she is not the only person to have a still born baby, my friend didn't know anybody it had happened to, and felt like she was the only person to leave hospital without a baby.
Try and be supportive in a practical way, baby sit for any other children if she has them, cook/buy some meals she can reheat.

StripySocksAndDocs Tue 12-Dec-17 18:13:34

There's not much you can do. You can not avoid the subject or her (doesn't sound like you are). You can tell her you know there's nothing you can do or say that'll fix it but that you are there for her, however and whenever. (It's unlikely she'll ask though, so don't forget her after a few months.)

Also remember it's not your grief. I know that sounds patronising, but the death of a baby is so overwhelmingly saddening that often we want comfort for others. A friend of mine whose twins dies not long after they were born said this was awful. It was almost as it she had to comfort other people about the death of her babies.

Eryri1981 Tue 12-Dec-17 18:20:10

Also much further down the line, don't forget about this baby, she or he will have been very much a person for your friend, so allow them to come up in conversation, and don't feel awkward about it. Don't forget them on important days (by bridal bouquet went on my friends daughters grave, as she would have been my bridesmaid alongside her sisters).

Eeeeek2 Tue 12-Dec-17 18:24:54

Put a note in your diary for next year and beyond. Next year will be so hard so card/text/offer to do something so she is not alone.

How are you? Rather than are you ok.

Would you like to talk about baby?

Schlimbesserung Tue 12-Dec-17 18:25:38

Help her to find memories. Talk to her about when she found out she was pregnant, when she had her fist scan, how she felt and if she talked to the baby etc. It's always a tragedy to lose a child, but with a stillbirth there are so few memories to treasure. I take great comfort in remembering the experiences which just involved me and my baby.

TwitterQueen1 Tue 12-Dec-17 18:35:20

I would not send flowers. Flowers are for celebrations and enjoyment. I was given flowers when I was first diagnosed with cancer and I hated them.

Maybe a photo frame, so they can put a photo of their baby in it? Or how about a memory box (although that can be quite personal) or a kind of 'scrapbook', where they can put cards, scans, letters etc.

Don't be afraid to talk about baby. Ask about names, how they chose them, how they are going to remember baby etc.

Most of all, ask the mother - and make sure she knows you think of her as a mother - how she would like to remember baby.

AuldHeathen Tue 12-Dec-17 18:53:57

In addition to what others have said, remember to include the baby‘s dad (l‘m assuming they‘re together). Sadly dads can feel left out as obviously the mother‘s been pg and given birth, but it‘s his loss too.

It‘s likely the parents will have photos of their baby. Please say how lovely she is. The baby will have been tastefully photographed. She‘ll be wrapped and/or dressed and will probably look like she‘s sleeping. Depending on the cause of death, this might not be the case.

Also, l‘d contact them over the forthcoming festive season as it‘s an utterly shit time to be newly bereaved. Other ppl happy and busy and their normal routine changed, and health care professionals maybe less available.

BulletFox Tue 12-Dec-17 19:01:18

It was horrible when a friend lost her first baby stillborn.

I read at their daughter's funeral and it was incredibly horrible seeing the teeny tiny coffin.

I probably didn't know how to deal with them at the time and struggled with it for a year before I just cried because I couldn't help them.

They need specialist help and would appreciate you showing them love and care

BertieBotts Tue 12-Dec-17 19:05:55

YY about not expressing your own sadness other than as sympathy - I also had a friend who went through something difficult involving a child and she said it was one of the worst things. Do not make her take on your sadness on top of her own, not for a second.

Yes do acknowledge that the festive period must be hard. Maybe take the time to send her just a text or anything on the day.

Does she have other children or is this her first baby?

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