Family & Friends: Ways to Help During the Holidays

Advice for the Holidays

The holidays are a difficult time for a family when a loved one is missing. This is especially true for parents who have lost a baby at any stage.

As a holiday approaches, parents often dread the happiness and celebration that occurs around and on many holidays because they don’t feel the same joy and anticipation others do in preparing for these special days. Holidays magnify the void that was left in their life when their child died.

As the family and friends of the parents who have lost a baby, this is a time when you need to be supportive and available to them. It may be difficult for them to reach out to you – but it will mean a great deal to them if you are able to acknowledge their pain and how difficult these special days are. Here are some suggestions that may help you support the ones you love through these hard times.

Be Understanding
  1. Respect whatever decision the parents make regarding how they wish to spend the holiday. If they choose to skip it altogether, don’t pressure or push them into doing something that you think they should do or attend.
  2. Listen to their feelings without judgement or opinions, be available to help and support any decisions they may make about the day.
  3. Realize that it doesn’t matter how long it has been since they have lost their baby, in their mind, there will always be someone missing from the family gatherings.
  4. Try not to have expectations regarding how the parents should act or behave on holidays should they choose to participate. Remind yourself that a lot of energy is being directed towards coping and making it through the day… they are doing the best that they can.
  5. Ask them if they want to participate in preparations (food, set up, etc) and at what level they want to be involved.
  6. Let them cry openly if they need to.
  7. Be willing to discuss changes and/or variations in holiday rituals if it will make the day any easier for them.
Share Their Grief
  1. Mention their baby by name. Acknowledging that you remember the parents and their baby will mean a lot.
  2. Do something in memory of their baby:
    – Make a donation to a charity in the baby’s name.
    – Keep a candle lit in memory of the baby acknowledging his or her absence.
  3. If you feel like crying, go ahead and cry. It won’t upset the parents and they will probably be touched that you care enough to share those emotions.
  4. If you have a picture of the baby, or other remembrance – consider displaying it. The family will appreciate that you thought to honor their child in that way.