Do you have a friend or family member whose baby died? Maybe she took a healthy baby home and months later her son died tragically of SIDS. Or maybe he never got to meet his baby awake outside of the womb because his daughter was stillborn. Maybe you have a friend who suffered a miscarriage more than once, but even once is enough pain to endure. Maybe you have a friend whose toddler, school age, or teenager tragically died.
If you do know someone who has been shaken to their core by the loss of their child, no matter what age, please take a moment and support a bereaved parent and honor their child by remembering them this October for Pregnancy, Infant, and Child Loss Awareness Month.
I know, right now you might be saying to yourself, “Okay, yeah. I have a bereaved parent friend and I want to help honor their child’s memory, but I just don’t know what to do.”
Fair enough; that is why I’m here to help. As a bereaved mom whose child died six years ago, I have come up with some ideas I would love if a friend did for me. I am sharing them with you in hopes that you will reach out to your bereaved parent friend and let them know that you are thinking of them and always remembering their precious child this October.
Here are 10 ways to support a bereaved parent during Pregnancy, Infant, and Child Loss Awareness Month.
1. Light a Candle for their Baby who Died.
October 15th is Pregnancy, Infant, and Child Loss Awareness Day, which is recognized around the world, and you are invited to participate. The remembrance ceremony can take place in your own home. It’s that easy. All you have to do is light a candle at 7 p.m. your local time and leave it burning for an hour. Doing this in honor of your friend’s child contributes to the wave of light that is created by others doing the same in their time zone on October 15th in remembrance of all children who left us too soon.
2. Say their child’s name.
When you grab that cup of coffee with your bereaved parent friend or you pass them at work, take a moment and say their child’s name in your conversation. It doesn’t have to be formal. Just in passing, bring their child’s name up if it seems appropriate. For example, if you are at their house and see a picture of your friend and their child make note of it and say, “I love that picture of you and Susie.” Or if it doesn’t come up easily then just say, “I heard it’s Pregnancy, Infant, and Child Loss Awareness month and wanted to let you know I was thinking of Johnny.”
3. Send a card.
You know that section in the store where the cards are that say, “Thinking of You”? That would be perfect sentiment to send during the month of October to remind them that you remember their child this month and always. I’m sure it would brighten their day. As a bereaved mom, every card I still receive from family and friends that acknowledges my child and my pain as a grieving mother feels like a hug in the mail from my daughter. I see it as my little girl working through you to get to me. Maybe your friend will feel the same way, and that is powerful stuff. If you need a special card for a bereaved parent, we love the Empathy Cards from Emily McDowell.
4. Call your friend.
Call up your friend and just say, “I wanted to let you know I’ve been thinking of you. I wanted to be sure to tell you this October during Pregnancy, Infant, and Child Loss Awareness Month about how I think of your child often.” You could also go on to ask if there was anything they might need from you or like for you to do with them in remembrance this October.
5. Do a Random Act of Kindness in their child’s name.
What better way to show that your friend friend that their child’s life has impacted others than by continuing to do things in their name? The MISS Foundation started The Kindness Project and this idea of remembering our children though random acts of love. So this October, do a random act of kindness. Maybe buy a cup a coffee for the guy in line behind you with a note that it’s in remembrance of your friend’s baby who died. Or, let the mom in line at the grocery store go ahead of you, and tell them all about how Timmy, your friend’s child would have done the same. Be creative. The possibilities are endless, and you will do it all in your friend’s child’s name. Don’t forget to let your friend know. It might just bring a tear of joy to their eye.
6. Participate in a Remembrance Walk with them.
There are so many out there during the month of October. As a bereaved mom I find remembrance walks to be powerful experiences. It’s just so moving when your family and friends come out to support you and honor your child who you are missing. For those few hours, when my feet pound that 5K course, I get to really “be” my child’s mom that day. People acknowledge me as “Nora’s Mom” and I get to publicly parent her in ways I never will get to in life. Now, wouldn’t that be a good gift to give a friend this October?
7. Stop in for a visit and spend time with your friend.
Don’t forget to mention why you are there. Maybe bring over some baked goods or a meal to share. We bring over food in the early days of grief and mourning after a loved one dies, and I think a nice batch of cookies would be just as helpful years down the road too.
8. Invite your friend to a remembrance service or ask if you can go with him or her to one they might be attending.
See if there is a remembrance ceremony being held in your area and ask your friend if they would like to come along. It would be a wonderful gesture. If you are uncomfortable bringing up the topic of their child who died, it’s a nice way of segueing into the conversation.
9. Send an, “I remember with you” note through e-mail or as a Facebook status.
Want to acknowledge your friend’s child this month but don’t know how to say it? Then send an e-mail, private message, or leave a note on their Facebook wall. Better yet, post something on their Facebook or yours publicly saying, “I remember your child with you” this October. Not sure if you could do it? Okay, here. I’ll help you out. You are more than welcome to share this meme below, and check out the other graphics we created that can also be shared on social media.
10. Donate an item to a child in need and in the name of their child who died.
Something that bereaved parents often do around the holidays, their child’s birthday, or the anniversary of their child’s death is to donate a gift in their child’s name to a child in need that is around the same age their child would have been or was when they died. It’s a nice way to give back to others who need a helping hand while also remembering the child that is no longer with us. Maybe you could do this as a special gesture this month as a way to honor your friend’s child. It just might make them smile.
Whatever you end up deciding to do support a bereaved parent and honor of their child who died during the month of October, remember even though it may seem like a small gesture to you, it just might mean the world to your friend.
**A version of this article was originally published at Still Standing Magazine.