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My friend's baby died in the womb at 36 weeks...what can I do/say?

(15 Posts)
Pidgywidge Mon 19-Aug-13 11:55:23

We have a friend, who we're not very close to, but she was due to give birth in the next couple of weeks. They found out the baby had died, and she had to give birth via induction. Obviously they were all ready to go, with a freshly decorated nursery and all the equipment. I can't even imagine what they're going through.

I want to be supportive, without being interfering and I desparately don't want to say the wrong thing and cause any more angst than they're going through already. Equally, I don't want them to feel that people are avoiding them, or feel awkward around them.

Any advice on how to be, or what to say please?

AnotherStitchInTime Mon 19-Aug-13 12:04:15

Send a card with your condolences and maybe a little contribution towards flowers sad

filee777 Mon 19-Aug-13 12:06:10

One of the most important things for me was not having to go home and deal with any of the stuff, so maybe ask if they want you to do a scout round the house and put any baby things in the nursery so the door can be shut. Make them food if you can and leave it with them and just let them know that you are there.

It's an awful time.

fridayatlast Mon 19-Aug-13 17:32:38

I don't know if this is just a personal thing but what I found hardest was that no one wanted to talk about my baby (I lost her at 40 weeks). I did, and still do at 2.5 years (and 2 more babies) later, want to talk about her.

I had still given birth. No one asked what weight she was. Very few asked what her name was. These things are important to a mum, even a bereaved one. She was so real to me, had lived for 9 months, even if not on the outside, that for people to act like she didn't exist was/is hurtful. (Not that I blame them, I'm sure most people just don't know what the right thing to say or do is).

The friends that still remember after time has passed, and send a card or text on her birthday, are very special to me.

christinarossetti Mon 19-Aug-13 21:06:28

Our first baby was stillborn and I very, very appreciated (and still do appreciate) the cards that we were sent. Personally, I hated the flowers and threw them on the compost heap as flowers are for happy times to me, but I was very grateful for the cards.

Also, when you see her, do tell her how sorry you are to hear about the death of her baby and ask what the baby's name is. Be honest - saying 'I can't imagine what you're going through' or 'I don't know what to say' was fine for me - saying nothing hurt immensely.

mynameisslimshady Mon 19-Aug-13 21:17:21

Don't give any of the usual platitudes in an effort to 'fix' it - your baby is in a better place, you are young enough to have more, at least your baby didn't suffer etc. Nothing will make it better and these things are awful to hear.

If you don't know what to say, tell her, but don't say nothing.

Ask her all the details, name, weight, what her baby looked like etc. If you feel able, and you feel she is able, ask to see photos.

I would say don't send a bereavement card, send a plain one and mark that her baby was born too, and use the babys name.

Don't look uncomfortable if she mentions her baby, smile with her or cry with her but don't say nothing and act shifty.

Most of all don't expect her to ever 'get over it' this is forever now, if she gets pregnant again then its not all better now, she is a Mum of 2, please bear that in mind, its horrible to have your child forgotton.

And lastly thanks for you coming here to ask for advice. I wish more people did. You are a lovely friend.

WeAreSeven Tue 20-Aug-13 00:58:58

Agree with slimshady. I found it very upsetting when our neighbour told her littlle daughter that I had all boys and "no girls" despite the fact that my daughter lived and breathed for 7 weeks.
I have five children, not four.
Don't mention God or heaven, even if they are religious, unless they bring it up first. I do believe in an afterlife but I was very angry with God after she died and still am sometimes.
Honestly, just "I am so sorry" and a hug will do it.

Pidgywidge Tue 20-Aug-13 13:24:05

Thank you so much for the wonderful advice, and I'm very relieved to know that my initial thoughts were along the right lines, i.e. not trying to say something about it getting better/more children etc and also to talk about him.

When discussing with other friends, I've offered the opinion that while they probably want some time at first, we should make sure that we don't desert them for weeks on end. I can imagine this happens too easily, and they might feel isolated or 'different'.

Thanks again for sharing your experience, it's so helpful, I know there's little I can actively do, but I'm determined not to do the wrong thing either. I'm so sorry for the loss of your children - thank you for helping me to be a better friend!

everlong Tue 20-Aug-13 17:58:50

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

WeAreSeven Tue 20-Aug-13 21:32:09

Oh, Pidgywidge, another thing. You actually sound really sensitive and lovely so maybe it isn't necessary to say this but sometimes parents who lose a baby late in pregnancy find that other people refer to their "miscarriage" and act as if it's similar to an early miscarriage. Early miscarriage is terrible too of course but not at all like the grief of an almost full term baby.
I can't compare my loss of my daughter to SIDS to losing an older child because thankfully my older children are all still here. But the loss of a baby so late in pregnancy IS the loss of a child and although it might look to the world as though we didn't "get to know" the babies we lost so young, we did know them and love them like our older children.

Actually, the encounters I had where I really was thankful for the person were those who acknowledged that it was a huge horrible loss and that they were thinking of us.
The encounters I had which were terrible were where people minimised the loss, or compared it to the loss of a parent or grandparent ( or even the one f***wit who compared it to the loss of her dog!hmm) or who tried to "look on the bright side". There just isn't a bright side.

But as I said, you actually sound like a lovely person who wouldn't say anything terrible.

Also meant to say that practical things, like cooking lasagne or casseroles and putting them in the freezer can help. We really didn't feel like cooking or food shopping so had a few bad days till my poor Mum ended up going to Tesco.

Pidgywidge Wed 21-Aug-13 09:08:55

I did wonder about popping round and sorting out their garden. This probably sounds odd, but this year they had started a veg plot and put lots of work into it, but they've gone away for a few days and it's probably going to pot now, so I thought I'd pop down with my gardening bits and sort it out while they're away.

Hmmm..that sounds very random now I've written it down. Maybe I'll make a casserole instead.

It's interesting how you all gave advice along similar lines, and makes me feel much better that if I follow it, I'll be doing the right thing for them too. Perhaps it's easier to empathise if you've been pregnant yourself. I can remember very well how I felt at that stage, it wasn't that long ago, and to me it was a beautiful child who I felt I knew intimately. I had felt every wriggle, sleep, hiccup and I had cradled my tummy and rubbed her back as if she were in my arms. How awful it must be for others to minimise that just because you hadn't seen their face yet.

Thanks again everyone, I'll let you know how I get on.

mynameisslimshady Wed 21-Aug-13 09:16:38

That is a really thougtful idea and doesn't sound random at all. Things like that won't be on their mind right now, everything will still be feeling so surreal, it would be lovely for you to take care of their garden for them.

I really wish there were people like you around when I lost my children. What a lovely friend you are thanks

Daisy17 Wed 21-Aug-13 09:28:34

It's really hard. My friend's baby died at 40 weeks, and she had to give birth via induction too. My DS was 4 days old at the time, we'd been through our pregnancies together. Awful. I thought she wouldn't want to hear from me especially. Eventually I sent a text just saying that I had no idea what to say but that I was thinking of her so much. She immediately texted back, saying how they wanted to deal with it, mainly by talking about him openly, and we then had a long and emotional conversation. I think just getting in touch, holding out a hand and then letting them tell you what they need is best. We still talk about him a lot by name, and we took DS to her new daughter's birth celebrations this year. Good luck, you sound like a lovely friend.

WeAreSeven Wed 21-Aug-13 10:17:01

Actually, doing the garden sounds like a lovely idea. . They may not want to tackle it at all for a while and will probably really appreciate it. You sound so lovely!

Pitmountainpony Thu 22-Aug-13 22:34:35

So terrible.
I have recently had a close friend experience SIDS and lose her perfect and gorgeous daughter, beyond a year of age. I still cannot believe that beautiful person is gone.
All I can say is we remember her little one every time we meet up, all her cute antics and her vibrant personality and I appreciate that is easier when you have known the little one but I would say if there are photos ask to see them as for sure someone else seeing their beautiful child and acknowledging that beauty of life that developed for almost 9 months, will help a little. I think itis the pretending it has not happened that is hardon the bereaved.
My heart goes out to them. Nothing can make the terribleness go away but you can soothe as a friend in small ways. Balm in the abyss is better than just the abyss, alone.

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