The first year is definitely a difficult year for parents as they will experience “many firsts” without their baby. Letting your friend know you are thinking of them, their family and their baby on these dates is important and very comforting. A small gesture of a birthday card, flowers, a gift or a shared visit to the cemetery will be truly appreciated. Understand that they may be withdrawn or upset in the lead up to these occasions, and respect their emotional state.
There is no time limit to grieving and you can’t assume that parents will forget about their loss in time. A grieving parent needs time to re-adjust to life again, and it certainly won’t happen in a few months. Check in regularly and see how they’re feeling, particularly after the first 3 months. This is when reality is really sinking in and life for everybody else begins to move on again. It’s important to make contact on an ongoing basis to gauge if there are signs of depression.
A Subsequent Pregnancy/Baby
Falling pregnant again or having a healthy baby does not mean that parents stop grieving or forget about the loss of their baby. Parents will often feel quite frightened and anxious with this new pregnancy and their grief may intensify as they near milestones of their angel baby. It is crucial to support them by acknowledging their fears and being there to listen.
A different person
Grief changes people. Many parents can be traumatised by their loss and lose all sense of what normal felt like. Expecting the same person to come back and expecting them to move on within a certain time frame is unrealistic and unhelpful. Parents can become disengaged from life, lose passion in their previous interests and struggle to find themselves again. Grief can put pressure on relationships, the ability to work, and the emotional capability of the individual. Parents will move beyond their sadness in their own time, developing new thoughts, beliefs, dreams and aspirations and all this is very normal.