National Bereaved Parents Day will take place on Sunday 3 July to raise awareness for all parents who have lost a child of any age, and from any circumstance.
This year’s theme is Remember Me. Remembering all of the children gone too soon.
The Lullaby Trust offer confidential bereavement support to anyone affected by the sudden and unexpected death of a baby or young child.
If you would like the opportunity to talk freely, for as long as required, with a sympathetic and understanding listener please call their bereavement support helpline on 0808 802 6868 or email email@example.com.
You can also contact via webchat on weekdays 10am-12pm.
Calls to the helpline are free from all landlines and most mobile phone networks. The helpline is open 10am-5pm from Monday to Friday and 6pm-10pm on weekends and public holidays.
How to support a loved one
- Allow the bereaved person to express whatever he or she is feeling, even if these feelings seem intense and frightening. Try not to use any language that may be judgemental.
- Be available to listen to the parents talk as much and as often as they wish about the baby or child who died. This can be helpful for them. It may be difficult for you to hear, so make sure you seek support for yourself if you think this would be helpful.
- Bereaved parents often want to talk about their child and be allowed to remember them. Talk freely about the special qualities of the child and do not avoid mentioning the subject.
- Use the child’s name.
- Suggest you look together at photographs, if the parent seems comforted by photos and keepsakes.
- Try not to offer ‘reassurance’ on things you are not completely certain about, and which may indeed remain uncertain. E.g. “I’m sure they’ll find the answer……” “You’ll feel better by then…,” “Everything will be okay………” It’s okay just to listen or admit that you don’t know what to say but that you are there to offer support.
- Give special attention to any other children in the family, especially if the parents are too distressed themselves to give them comfort or attend to their individual needs.
- Offer to help with practical matters: telephoning, shopping, cooking and child minding, but avoid the temptation to take control.
- Do not, however, wash any item of clothing or bedding without being asked, as many parents find great comfort from things that still smell like their child. Unless you are asked, do not pack away the child’s belongings. Never put or throw anything away as this may be regretted later. Usually parents will deal with the child’s belongings when they are ready for them. This can be an important part of coming to terms with the death.
- Never tell the grieving person what he or she should do or how they should feel. Everyone reacts differently and it is important to accept the differences.
- Do not try to find something positive in the bereavement experience. That is something the parents may or may not want to do themselves at a later stage.
- Your offers of support, especially at first, may be received without obvious gratitude, or even ungraciously, but try not to let this lead to an end to your contact or friendship. Parents are often very distressed at losing a valued relationship because neither side knew how to react to such a tragedy at first. If you can remain sensitive to a family’s changing needs as their bereavement goes on, and continue to keep in touch and offer practical help, this will be valuable support.
For more information, visit lullabytrust.org.uk/bereavement-support