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Miscarriage/pregnancy loss

Friend has had a stillbirth..what can I say or do?

18 replies

banana87 · 12/08/2010 18:11

:( It's such an awful and sad story :(

My friend, who was desperate for a baby, had a successful third attempt at IVF and we were all so happy. Sadly, she has lost her baby at 36 weeks :(

I have no idea what I can say or do. If it was me, there would be nothing anyone could ever say or do.

Any advice? Do I send a card? And what do I write? Send flowers?

OP posts:
Tootlesmummy · 12/08/2010 18:14

What an awful tragedy. As you say there isn't anything that you can say or do that will make it all ok but it will help for her to know that you're there and thinking about her.

Can you visit and take round some food, help around the house and just be there to give hugs, a shoulder to cry on?

Difficult position for you but I think it would be best to try and see her rather than send a card.

Thinking of your friend.

DameGladys · 12/08/2010 18:18

Send a card. Try phoning regularly and leave messages if she doesn't answer.

Obviously not with stalkerish regularity, but under no circumstances just disappear or think 'she knows where I am'.

Rather than say 'can I do anything?' suggest practical things you could do. What that might be depends on how near you live to her and how close you are.

Don't avoid the subject. Saying 'I don't know what to say to you - do you want to talk about it?' is better than nothing.

There will be others along with suggestions - someone linked to a list once that was really good. Will see if I can find it.

SacharissaCripslock · 12/08/2010 18:18

Ask questions about the baby (who did the baby look like etc, normal new baby stuff, say how much you like they name they have chosen), use the babies name lots and ask how the birth was. She will probably want to talk about this stuff over and over again as these are the only memories she gets.

My DS2 was stillborn at 36 weeks and while I was absolutely devistated I was still the proud mum of a beautiful baby and wanted people to say all the normal stuff you say, iykwim.

The best thing you could ever do is to keep being there for her 6 months/1 year/10 years down the line. Don't avoid talking about her baby for fear of upsetting her.

It's lovely you are thinking of what you can do to help, you sound a good friend.

Mirrorball · 12/08/2010 18:24

I am really sorry to hear about your friend. I will be echoing what tootlesmummy said but just being there initially will be enough. I'd be at a lost at what to write in a card. Hopefully someone will post soon with some better advice. She will be numb regardless but will look back on this time and remember you were there for her and will appreciate your efforts to show you care.

Words can't describe the loss, just keep checking in on her.

My cousin had a still birth at 35 weeks - and is now on her 4th pregnancy, but at that time it was all just too awful to comprehend.

I remember it being really hard to know what to say or do, but just be her friend, pop over regularly or call and she will need a shoulder outside immediate family at some point.

So sad.

TheUnmentioned · 12/08/2010 18:24

Im so sorry for your friends loss.

I have heard other bereaved mums say that they liked receiving 'congratulations on the birth' cards - someone else may be able to advise on that.

Just let her talk and dont be afraid of aksing her things I think.

dawnwakening · 12/08/2010 18:29

Ring - and keep making contact even if she doesn't answer or return calls; send the card and flowers too if you want.

Ask the baby's name and ask to see the photos and if they want you to attend the funeral.

Be there, even years down the line, don't slip away. Your friend will be changed forever by this and it is all too sad that old friends cannot handle this and disappear.

mnistooaddictive · 12/08/2010 18:45

I always feel that you can acknowledge not knowing what to say. I have been known to say "I don't know what to say so can you just pretend I have said the perfect thing in this situation" Better to say that than nothing.

Northernlurker · 12/08/2010 18:54

Friends of ours lost a baby at 20 weeks. When I wrote to them I said that I wanted them to know that whilst sadly we would never met their child she was still part of our community and church family (we go to the same church as them). I also said we wouldn't forget. I think that was helpful.
From everything I've read on here it is better to do anything than stay silent. You cant make things worse - they are as black as they can be.

banana87 · 12/08/2010 21:05

Thanks ladies.

She is a friend, but she lives quite far from me, so doing anything around her house is out. We also arent that close, we are part of the same American group and meet up socially 3-4 times per year. I will ring her though, or text and let her know I am thinking of her. I am also organizing a collection for flowers and a donation to SANDS in her son's name. Is that a good idea?

OP posts:
loopyloops · 12/08/2010 21:11

Yes, SANDS donation and flowers sounds like a lovely idea to me.

My DD was stillborn (but her twin sister survived, so my situation is very different). The things I appreciated were people's cards, coming to see me, not avoiding me, not avoiding the subject, not forgetting after a few weeks.

A very good friend of mine bought my DD (surviving) a star in her sister's name to remember her by. It came with a little teddy bear and will always be cherished. a bit like this one

You sound like a great friend, I could have done with you!

HumphreyCobbler · 12/08/2010 21:16

In a year's time remember her baby's birthday.

jellybeans · 13/08/2010 00:21

I lost 2 babies at 23 and 20 wks and appreciated anyone who came up to me and said they were sorry about what happened. Some found it hard and were crying etc but I highly respected them coming over to me as many ignored me. I would rather they put their foot in it by saying the 'wrong thing' than ignore me.

I appreciated all cards and flowers/gifts as it meant they acknowledged the loss and saw it as significant. I got a couple of lovely angel things and candles and still have them all and all the cards. It also meant alot when they referred to my girls by their names.

I know everyone is different though and a friend of mine recently lost a baby at 40 weeks :( I had no idea what to say really as there is nothing and i was devastated for them and knew that i could only guess how they felt but i sent a card saying how sorry we were. I was worried that it would upset them but thought it might upset them if eveyone acted like nothing had happened.

It's a horrible situation, so sorry for your friends loss.

Tangle · 13/08/2010 20:55

I think a lot of its been said: say something - anything - rather than nothing, and be prepared to remember their son through the years.

Our DD2 was stillborn at 36 weeks in January. I can honestly say that we appreciate all the comments, cards and notes we received - even those that were clumsily phrased. At some point you might ask if your friend has any photos and, if so, whether she'd like to share them. I think what I find hardest is that with a stillbirth you have so little - and there are no shared memories to bring out an treasure, however painful that may be. I feel very much as though all I have is a handful of photos of a dead baby that next to no one will want to look at. For most people she never existed.

This poem was quite apt for us.

whomovedmychocolate · 13/08/2010 21:07

My friend had a stillbirth at 35 weeks. I had no idea what to say or do when I heard so I just got in the car, went to her house and hugged her while we both cried for hours. So much hope dashed. :( :( :(

But a lot of people avoided her for a while and that was horrid and shameful. So don't avoid her or the subject of her baby.

There is a universal fear all mothers share during pregnancy, that they will go through it all and then the baby will die. I hope your friend finds happiness in her future, even if she can't in the present.

Tangle · 13/08/2010 21:10

Do you have any local contacts who could check out a local delivery type service like this? - just thinking out loud, but what we struggled with was getting through the day. The ability to plan what to eat, buy the food and cook it was completely beyond us for a good few weeks (fortunately my sister was staying and made a fantastic nanny come house-keeper).

Flowers are lovely and we did appreciate them - but on the other hand it was one more thing to worry about. Meals we could have slung in the freezer to be pulled out when we realised it was dinner time and we hadn't got anything to cook, again, would have been much more useful...

My heart goes out to your friend, and I'm sure you'll support her well through this awful time.

(Other stray thought - do you know her husband at all? I think DH struggled as so many people expected him to get back to normal so soon and didn't seem to acknowledge it was very hard for him as well as me.)

banana87 · 13/08/2010 21:14

I am so sorry to those of you who have been through a similar experience, you are right, it is a universal fear amoung all mothers. I saw another friend today at the same gestation, and though I did not tell her about this, I did tell her to monitor every movement. I know this cannot always prevent things, but its the only thing we can do, isn't it?

Thanks tangle for that poem, it sums up so much, including what I wanted to say to my friends when my MIL was dying. I think I will include that in the card I write her.


OP posts:
FourLittleDucks · 13/08/2010 21:26

We lost a daughter five years ago - the first year especially was dreadful. I'd buy the baby a present if I were you - we have a few soft toys/things around the house are special - even though they were bought for her after she'd died. I don't know if I'd go as far as sending a 'Congratulations' card, but I definitely remember feeling like I wanted the house to be pink, like it would have been if she'd lived.
And, like others have said, say his/her name.

Thank you for being a good friend to her - it is so terribly terribly hard, and five years on I still yearn so deeply for this little one. And that's without having any IVF - that will complicate things NO END and you may find that her grief over losing the baby quite quickly becomes grief again about their fertility problems - it is a very hard situation they're in.

Dione · 13/08/2010 21:33

Just ask her what she wants to do. In situations like these many do things that they think the friend needs and sometimes are appeased thus burdening the grieving parent more. Ask her. Does she want to come over (or have you go over) and talk/drink. Does she need shopping done or driven anywhere. Does she need left alone for a while. Just ask her plain and simple 'What do you want to do?' And not 'what can I do?'

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