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How To: Helping Others Deal With Loss

Dear Sugar
My cousin's wife, who I am relatively close with, lost her baby in childbirth. Although this tragedy was not a total surprise, the doctors suspected the baby's lungs were not developing properly and that is what caused it to be stillborn. My cousin and his wife are devastated.

Because I don't have children of my own and don't know anyone who has been through a similar tragedy, I am finding it difficult to figure out what I can say or do to comfort them. What can I do besides send flowers? Any advice you could offer would be greatly appreciated. Helpless Heidi

To see DEARSUGAR's answer

Dear Helpless Heidi
I am so sorry for your cousin's loss, what a terrible thing to have happened to them. Unfortunately there is no correct way to act and there isn't a magical thing out there to say to make them feel better. Sending flowers is always a nice gesture and will hopefully bring some cheer into the house.

Let your cousin and his wife know they are in your thoughts and prayers. Tell them if there is anything they need, you are there to offer assistance. Who wouldn't appreciate that kind of selfless gesture? Once your cousin and his family settle in back home, you could bring them food, offer to run errands, or ask to babysit if they have other children.

Don't worry about saying the wrong thing to them. Actions speak louder than words, and if you can't come up with something to express your sorrow you can always send a card or a letter when the time is right. Support comes in so many different ways and being available for them will mean a lot. They are very lucky to have such a wonderful and caring friend and cousin.

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Join The Conversation
reeeeka reeeeka 9 years
I'm so sorry I didn't see this before. Thank you
BeachBarbie BeachBarbie 9 years
Heidi, reeeeka, and runhlrun, My sincerest condolences to you all. My thoughts, and prayers are with all of you.
reeeeka reeeeka 9 years
thank you. wow...see I've yet to meet anyone that's lost their sister. I've come across people who've lost their mom or their dad or their kids but not their sister. It's a completely different relationship. Does it get easier? That's what people keep telling me but I don't believe it.
runhlrun runhlrun 9 years
Reeeeka, I lost my sister very suddenly in 1992. I'm so sorry for your loss.
reeeeka reeeeka 9 years
thank you
honey31 honey31 9 years
reeeeka I am so so sorry for your loss!
reeeeka reeeeka 9 years
thank you
Daisy6264 Daisy6264 9 years
So sorry to hear, reeeeka.
reeeeka reeeeka 9 years
We just lost my sister on November 14th. It was totally unexpected, she was killed in a car accident and just turned 21 5 days before. The one thing that I can tell you that helps is just letting the person know you are there for them no matter what. You can only hear im sorry so many times. To be honest I have no idea what to say to people who say they are sorry. It's one of those things that just being there for them is good enough. You don't necessarily have to even talk, just let them know if they need anything you're their person. We had alot of people helping raise money for the funeral, I'm not sure about their money situation but that was a HUGE worry for my family. We arn't poor but we arn't rich either and funeral homes and mortuaries want their money upfront before the actual cerimonies take place. Maybe you could help get some money gathered for them? It was a huge relief knowing we didn't have to worry about that. One thing I could go without hearing (maybe it's just me) is "are you okie?" "how are you doing?"...I feel the need to lie because I don't want to upset them and let them know that I'm really not okie because I think people ask that to make themselves feel better. If you say okie then they feel they can be okie. I hope that you and your family find some sort of peace after this tragic loss. It's going to be hard. Also, as someone said at my sisters funeral. Please after this is all done and the funeral is over and you go back to your lives...please don't forget the family that is still greiving. They are going to need you even after everythings done and settling.
crazylady crazylady 9 years
I think the biggest thing would to say "I'm sorry" to her and her husband as well as never saying that you understand what she's going through because you've lost someone too. That's the biggest no-no people do. (No one ever truly understands another person's loss - we may empathize but we can't understand since each person and relationship are different.) Also don't pretend that because the baby isn't here it never existed. Call the baby by it's name and consider giving them a plant or something so they can remember the baby and mourn without necessarily going to the cemetery. Let her talk about the baby and let her know that you want to listen. Also beware that she may have serious post-partum depression which may go over looked because she's mourning. Watch for her not eating, not sleeping, not dressing as polished as she once did, etc. If she says she's fine and you don't think she is plan some special time with her to get out and get lunch or something and be sure that you're not seated near anyone with kids!
honey31 honey31 9 years
Sorry for your loss.
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