Sunday, September 25, 2016

Someone I care about lost a child. What should I do?

It can be difficult to know what to do when your friend or family member loses a child. It's something that is often overlooked and not discussed in our society. However, it certainly needs to be addressed. The following are my suggestions, but they may not fit every person or situation, so keep that in mind. Pray for wisdom and guidance in this situation. Here are some things you can try:
  • Listen. Just listen. If the person doesn't want to speak, then just sit with them. You don't need to say anything. If you haven't faced this situation, it may be better if you don't say anything because it may not come across the way you want it to. Let the person know that you're there to listen to them.
  • Pray. Pray for and with the person, if they're willing for you to do that. Pray that God would comfort them in this difficult situation and find a way to heal their hearts.
  • Give one of our care packages. Contact us by email and we'll put together a custom care package based on your friend's needs which you can deliver as a gift from you.
  • Provide a meal. Bring a dinner and ask if you can set up more meals for the family, if someone else hasn't already done so. You can easily get people to sign up for meals online through resources like If you can, go above and beyond the dinner, too, and provide some healthy snacks or a small item for breakfast the next morning, like fruit, yogurt, or a baked good. Remember, your dinner doesn't have to be homemade either! Suffering families are happy to receive any food they're given. If you're picking up a meal, ask the family what kind of takeout they like and get their order.
  • Give a meal gift card. If you can't provide a meal or sign ups fill up, send a gift card for a meal. The family will still not want to cook much after the meals stop coming.
  • Gift a rose bush. Often bouquets of flowers are sent to grieving families, but watching flowers die and having to throw them out can stir up all the hard emotions again. I suggest a white rose bush, as white is a symbol of purity. A yellow rose is also beautiful and is a reminder of sunshine and hope.
  • Arrange a memorial service. This is a beautiful way to acknowledge the life of an unborn child and validate the family's loss. If you need ideas for the service of an unborn child, you can contact us. If there's already a service being planned, offer your help. There's usually a reception after a service in which a meal is provided, so help arrange food donations and bring some yourself. You can ask the family what they need help with for the service, but realize they may have difficulty verbalizing their needs so you'll need to be a keen observer. 
  • Help around the house. Offer to help with basic house chores, like laundry, scrubbing toilets, vacuuming, or mopping floors. If you or they don't feel comfortable with that, then offer to do their yard work or help care for their pets. Take the dog for a walk. Play with the cat.
  • Babysit. If the family has other children, offer to babysit so the parents can go out on a date. If they don't have other kids, give them the gift of a date: movie tickets, a gift card to a nice restaurant, etc.
  • Plan a fun and friendly outing. Set up something fun to do in a few weeks to get your friend out of the house and away from their thoughts. A movie, mini golf, hiking, shopping, manicures and pedicures, or whatever your friend normally likes will do. Don't try to get your friend to talk about their feelings during this outing. Just let things be the way they used to be.
  • Be sensitive and aware of holidays and important dates. Write down when your friend lost their child so that you can prepare for that date next year. Remember that major holidays, like Thanksgiving and Christmas, will be difficult. Write a note, give a baked good, or make a phone call near major holidays just to let the person know you're thinking about them. If your friend miscarried, write down the baby's due date and contact your friend near that time to extend your love and prayers. 
I also suggest refraining from saying things like "God has a plan in this" or "Maybe the baby was going to have problems." These words are usually not comforting to grieving families. Instead, pray on your own that God would reveal His plan to the family in their loss.

If you have been through child loss, what else would you recommend that people do or not do?

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