what to do when a friend loses a baby

How to help when friend loses baby: something they want, something they need, something to keep, or something to read

When a friend or relative loses a baby – from miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant death – it is a devastating loss. Our family has been down this dark road three times: when we lost a baby to miscarriage and when our twin daughters died shortly after their premature birth.

If you’re wondering what to do when a friend loses a baby? Here are 4 ways – and many more ideas to help.

I learned how to care for grieving parents from the family, friends, co-workers, and even strangers who reached out to us in amazing ways after our babies died. All the ideas below came from them, and it is an honor and gift to share them with you.

What you can give to parents after their baby has died? Something they want, something they need, something to keep, or something to read.

Something They Want

Grieving parents want time and space to grieve. More than anything, they want their baby back. Since that is impossible, what you can give them is your time and presence.

Show up however you can: at their doorstep, in their mailbox, in their inbox, or on their phone. Your love, support, and prayers are the most important way to help a grieving parent.

You don’t have to do anything huge or elaborate – simply be present to them in their pain and let them know they are not alone.

Grieving parents also want other people to acknowledge their loss and honor their baby’s memory. Here are 4 ways to remember the life of their child:

  • Send the card: A physical card means even more than a phone call, email or text. It gives something to hold and keep. Target and Hallmark now carry sympathy cards for the loss of a baby. (P.S. even if you send the card weeks or months later? Your words will still touch them.)
  • Remember each month: Set a reminder in your phone or calendar for the day of the month that your friend’s baby died. A quick text or email will mean the world to them on that difficult day – because monthly milestones matter for all parents of babies, living or lost.
  • Don’t forget the holidays: Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are difficult days after the loss of a child. Reaching out to parents on those days – or in the days leading up – is a beautiful gesture of your love and prayers. You could also remember their child with a Christmas ornament or other personalized keepsake.
  • Give in their child’s honor: A memorial gift to a charity related to the baby’s loss or a favorite organization is a wonderful way to keep their child’s spirit alive.

Something They Need

In the immediate aftermath of their loss, grieving parents need help with life’s most basic needs:

  • Food: if you’re local, bringing dinner or breakfast baked goods is a huge help. If you’re long-distance, you can send a gift card for a restaurant, pizza, or groceries, or call a local restaurant to have dinner delivered.
  • Expenses: for any kind of loss – even an early miscarriage – medical bills pile up quickly. Hospital bills and burial expenses for a baby can be staggering. Even a small financial gift can help a family burdened by unexpected expenses.
  • Child care: if the parents have other children, an offer to watch the kids for a few hours during the day (so they can rest) or in the evening (so they can get out of the house) is a huge help.

Something To Keep

simple gift to remember the baby is a lasting treasure: a candle, a picture frame (for an ultrasound photo), a favorite tea or coffee, a small scrapbook, or a custom piece of pottery. A handmade quilt or prayer shawl is another lasting comfort to grieving parents.

Flowers: Bouquets are beautiful to surround the parents at the beginning. But it’s also nice to have something that lasts – a house plant, a plant for a memorial garden, a gift card to a local nursery, or a tree to plant in their baby’s honor.

Memorial stones: Blessing and Light makes personalized indoor/outdoor stones for all kinds of losses. Or give a garden stepping stone for parents to place in their yard. My husband’s siblings got us this gorgeous custom stone for our twins.

Personalized artwork: Many artists on Etsy offer memorial prints that you can customize with the child’s name and dates – a huge source of comfort to grieving parents. You can even send a custom care package remembering their child.

Memorial jewelry: Tangible reminders of lost babies mean so much, like a necklace with the baby’s initial, name, or date of birth. A bracelet with initials or the child’s name can be a great gift for a mother or father. Stitch Fix sent me this beautiful personalized bracelet after they heard about our daughters’ deaths – read the whole story here on Today.com)

Catholic ideas: After our miscarriage, a dear friend sent me a pink and blue rosary. Another friend sent a rosary bracelet after we lost our twins. A litany of saints can be a beautiful gift. Having a Mass offered for the child or enrolling their name in the prayers of a religious community are two other Catholic traditions that can bring comfort.

Something To Read

A journal is a great gift for parents to process their feelings after the loss of their child – or to record memories from the pregnancy, birth, or death.

There are many books that speak to pregnancy and infant loss. Here are a few of my favorites:

What else would you add to the list? What has helped you – or someone you love – after the loss of a baby?

Disclaimer: This page includes affiliate links.


  1. Mary on 8 September 2016 at 3:51 pm

    This is wonderful. Thank you for writing your blog and this list. All the new blogs and tweets from Tommy Tighe are good too. Just google him.

  2. Amy @ The Salt Stories on 7 September 2016 at 8:49 am

    Wonderful post! Thank you for putting all of these resources together in one place.

    A big thing I have learned is that each mama is different. We had two friends lose babies in the second trimester in the same month, one who very openly wanted to discuss it and the other who wanted privacy. It was a pleasure to think creativity to love and honor both of them and their wishes.

  3. Lynn on 24 August 2016 at 12:24 am

    Thank you for writing this!

    I would also recommend the book ‘after miscarriage’ by Karen Edmisten for Catholic mothers. My doctor gave me a copy after the loss of our little one and it was an immense blessing to me in my grief. It is a short compilation of perspectives shared by mothers who have also experienced miscarriage.

  4. Katie on 20 August 2016 at 8:52 pm

    I wanted something tangible to wear after our miscarriage, but also didn’t want it to be just for the baby we lost but also living child (at the time) and those to come. My wedding ring is a simple slim silver band, so we purchased additional bands and had them engraved with each child’s name and birthdate. With each child’s birth we’ve kept up the tradition. My ring finger is quite full (might have to start another finger!) but I love the fact that my marriage and children are all nestled together on me each day. It has been really healing for me to know that I carry each of them with me like that, but it’s also not super ‘obvious’ to others so it doesn’t provoke too many questions. I’ll talk about it if asked, but I also didn’t want to constantly have it brought up for my sake.

  5. Karen on 15 August 2016 at 2:19 pm

    My cousin sent us a bunch of silly hats after we got our prenatal diagnosis. When I first opened the box, I was stunned and wasn’t sure what to make of it. But hen, the kids ran over, pulled the hats out, and we were all laughing. After weeks of sadness and anger filling our house we had a day of laughter and silliness.

    I, too, am not a gift giver, and worry about getting the perfect thing, but everything that we received was the perfect thing in its own way.

  6. Nell @ Whole Parenting Family on 15 August 2016 at 6:19 am

    What a thorough and helpful way to help those of us on the outer ring of grief. Thank you!!

  7. Jessica on 8 August 2016 at 5:33 am

    Dearest Laura,

    Thank you for all of these wonderful suggestions. I am looking into one of the beautiful memorial stones as we speak.

    I have purchased (for myself, and to give as a gift) this print of a quote from Saint Zelie Martin, mother of Saint Therese. I have framed it for our home, and I look at it daily to remember our losses, but also to keep my mind set on the glory of Heaven.

    It is also available in note card form, and Katrina was a true pleasure during the ordering process.


    Love in our Savior,

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