What not to say to a grieving mother

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - The rate of stillbirth is 1 in 160 to 200 live births, defined as a baby lost after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Whether it is a miscarriage or a stillbirth, the grief that comes from the loss can be overwhelming.

Lucille Neely is a certified grief counselor at Covenant Health System. She says people mean well, but often, after a woman has lost a pregnancy or an infant soon after birth, even words of comfort can hurt deeply.

Lucille says "The list of what not to say is longer than the list of what to say."

She says the best way to be supportive is to bring meals and give hugs and just listen, not to ask 'What can I do for you?'"

Lucille says grieving mothers will rarely ask for help since they are mostly lost in their own world of loss. She says it is more important to remember what not to say than to try to think of something sweet to say.

Even though the motive is sincere and the comments are well intended, Lucille she has heard many words of comfort that must sting for a grieving mother.

She says, "No mom who's just lost a baby wants to hear her baby's an angel. She wants her baby. She doesn't want to hear that the baby's in a better place. The reality if you're Christian, you believe that, but it's not what she wants to hear. She's grieving for the loss of her baby and she wants that baby in her arms."

So, what can you say that is appropriate?  Lucille says the best thing to say is simply, "I'm sorry."

She says knowing that you are sorry and willing to listen… if she wants to talk… is the kindest thing you can do.

There are several resources for mothers grieving over a stillbirth or miscarriage.

Most hospitals try to help by creating a memory box for those who lose a baby. Depending on the age of gestation, there could be handprints, footprints and other keepsakes in that box.

New legislation in Texas specifies all products of conception (stillbirth and miscarriage) should be allowed a burial.

Covenant also has a program called Tiny Treasures where mothers who choose a commercial burial can get financial help if they prefer than option.

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