How do I help my sister cope with her newborn dying?

[deleted account] ( 19 moms have responded )

My sister just had a baby a couple days ago and she was born with a chromosomal mutation that makes her really have no chance with life. The doctors have basically told her it is a waiting game on when the baby will die and I don't know how to help her and comfort her.

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Michelle - posted on 05/31/2010

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I feel so bad for your friend and everyone reacts different to death i can only tell you my experiance. My best friend and i got pregnant at the same time on purpose so we could do it together when she went in to labour befor me we talked on the phone and i was ribbing her cause i was supposed to go first her daughter was born that night and it took a while to realise anything was wrong like your friend her baby wasn't still born she lived 3 days, my friend took hand and foot prints of her daughter and baby photos she wanted to remember her first child. the day she died my son was born i felt so awful! we spoke after the funeral and she came to the house to see the baby i dont know if i could be that brave. we talked for hours this was a long time ago now but i do remember her telling me that noone would look her in the eye no-one wanted to talk about it and people kept telling her they understood how she felt but she was young and can always have more kids she was so furious and she was right no one who hasn't gone through it can even begin to imagine and its insulting to suggest she just have another baby like nothing happened. The best advice i can give is be what ever she needs you to be she may want to talk about it she may want to tell you about her labour or she may just want you to be there i do know that the worst thing you can do is try to avoid the subject unless she isn't ready to deal. let her tell you what she needs. further down the line if she wants to try again there are tests both her and her partner can have to try to prevent it happening again but thats way after she gone through the grieving process. didnt mean to make this so long sorry just two more things dont know her situation but her parner will need help to cause if hes around hes gonna be so busy helping her he will forget to let him self grieve and i know this sounds strange one of the biggest favours you can do for her is allow your self to feel i know you need to be strong for her but if you bottle it all up the chances are when she dos need you you will be running on empty, do all you can but no one can do anything but be there for her and that means taking care of your self and you might need to tell everyone for her my friend every time she told someone they got so upset that she ended up comforting them. sorry this was so long and i am so so sorry for your sister and your family not an easy thing for any of you to deal with . good luck

Kristin - posted on 05/31/2010

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I'm so very sorry. Help out at her home and be ready to listen whenever she is ready to talk. Hold her hand and hugs as she will allow.

Get the numbers of some grief cousellors, support groups, etc. Don't give them to her now, but have them for later.

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Ieasha - posted on 06/03/2010

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WOW I don't what I would do if I lost baby I just had my baby 9 days ago, my heart go out to her, I don't think there's anything you can do to comfort her that's her, OMG I feel sooo bad for her, just take lots and lots of pictures and video of her and the and with the family. God bless the little angel.

Rebecca - posted on 06/03/2010

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Good for you! You are doing all the right things to help her.
The death of a child can either make or break a relationship. For my friend who lost her son after 2 heart surgeries and at the age of almost 3 months it made her and her husband so close i'm jealous. When i lost my first at 17weeks, it broke my relationship. I was with him for 4 years and i was told i would never have kids so when we found out we were amazed and so happy. I couldn't even look him in the eye after i lost the baby and moved back closer to home 2 months after, so i gave it a shot but knew i couldn't be with him anymore.
Your sister knows where her support is and it's with you. You other sisters might talk to her more once she is closer to home. It can be very awkward for others. They don't know what to say and feel ashamed for the person. Try to tell your sister that your other sisters love her very much but they don't know how to go about this issue as they have no gone through it in any way shape or form. Keep reminding her that you admire how strong she is. She will appreciate you and it sounds like you and her will become very close from what has happened.

[deleted account]

An Update. My sister is doing well. She has finally gotten past the point of the "calm before the storm" but still isn't past the point of feeling like this is all just a bad dream and she is going to wake up. We have been talking often about EVERYTHING. How she is, unimportant things, about the funeral, and sadly most of all the truth about her relationship. I had hoped in this she would find comfort in her significant other but now know that he was supporting her but hadn't wanted another. I had fundamental problems in their relationship that don't seem as though they will survive this. She told me today and I quote "There really is no reason to hold on so hard to him anymore". It is sad; however, she will more than likely move back home (close to home at least) bringing her closer to me and our parents so she will have a better support system in place. I have taken many of yours advice and have been there for her and refused to tiptoe around this (my other sister's keep filtering through me because they aren't brave enough to talk about it). It helps that I have been there and lost a child myself. It is just odd being the baby and taking care of one of my big sisters. Though I hate to say it after seeing pictures of Roselynn (one of only 3 other people to see them) death is almost a blessing to the child. Her disease made her very disfigured and hard to look at. She would have needed extensive surgery to fix her face alone let alone her hands and feet and other organs if she had lived. Though I bravely found a way to honestly tell my sister that her daughter had been beautiful in her own way.

Rebecca - posted on 06/02/2010

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I am so sorry to hear the passing. It is very difficult so even though you can not be there for her in person be there in other ways. Send her an email just to say you are thinking of her, or a real letter in the mail telling her how proud you are of her and to give herself time to heal. A friend of mine had a beautiful saying posted on her wall after her son died, it read... People dream of Angels but we were fortunate enough to hold one in our arms. It brings tears to my eyes every time i see it. He would be 2 years old next month.
Give her time to heal and tell her often you love her and remind her of all the great things she has already with her other kids. Remember she is not alone in this and maybe try to talk to her partner because he too is grieving and might not have anyone to talk to about it. Also make sure her and her partner talk about the baby to each other. That is very important to get by day by day.
Good luck to everyone who is involved in this hard time.

[deleted account]

Jeni- apparently you missed the post that Roselynn dies on Memorial day. Her funeral is this Saturday.

Jeni - posted on 06/02/2010

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The baby may be a miracle and survive. and if the worst happens atleast she got to give her angel the chance in life that was intended for her..
Its hard..my son nearly died when he was very young and i would not wish it on anyone..
Sending my love and cougage to her x

Cristina - posted on 06/02/2010

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I'm so sorry for this trial in your lives, I think you are doing it now, by asking for help, I think that you being there for her is of most importance, try listening even when she doesn't speak, the pain of loosing a child is the worse kind of pain, my niece died shortly after birth and to be honest it's been twelve years and it still hurts remembering it, just love that child no matter how long they have and thank the lord that he gave you it, to care for, the lord won't give you a load that you can't handle, it will get better, I will pray for you guys and your piece of mind.

Rebecca - posted on 06/01/2010

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I think the other ladies have given some great responses so i don't really have anything to add. Be there, talk and always be a shoulder to cry on. I lost my 1st at 17weeks gestation and my 3rd at 8weeks. I couldn't imagine having the baby and then this happen.
Good luck to your sister.

Rebecca - posted on 06/01/2010

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This is an amazing story. Watch the video for sure and maybe use the idea they use with the cakes and balloons. It's lovely.

Mandie - posted on 06/01/2010

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I am so sorry to hear about her loss. I have never encountered this situation myself, but I have to say what Michelle wrote sounds pretty helpful to me.



I checked in my What to Expect The First Year book, as they have a section on how to deal with this kind of situation. They suggest: Lending an ear - don't say things like "I know how you feel" or "You've got to be brave" (I can imagine the latter coming across very insulting). Just listen without being judgmental. They also say: become informed - Get the details from somebody else so they don't have to keep reliving it. Another: Use body language - "Often when words fail, the squeeze of a hand, a loving hug, a sympathetic look will get the message that you care across". Two more points: Keep in touch and help out. Basically it says that most people feel awkward in this situation and don't know how to help the grieving parents, so they often say or do nothing at all. "Those who have been on the receiving end of such behavior almost always say, "I'd rather hear the wrong words than none at all" so make sure you are there for her. And if at all possible (which it sounds like it isn't since you don't live near enough to her) they also suggest doing chores around the house, or taking older children so they have some time to really grieve by themselves too.



I can only imagine it will take lots of time and difficult moments to make it through, but as I'm sure you know, just keep yourself available to her and offer help whenever you can.

Kelly - posted on 06/01/2010

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I am so sorry for your sister and you. I know from having a miscarriage (although it was early on) and having known several people who have lost babies, either through miscarriage or after birth, that that child existed. That child was a real person, and shouldn't be forgotten or ignored. Just do the best you can to let her talk about it as much as she wants (maybe later on, if not now). You are hoping to keep her kids for her some, but she may want them to be with her. Bless you both!

[deleted account]

Sad to say last night baby Roselynn died. My sister is dealing with it with a strength that I fear because she isn't allowing herself to breakdown and feel. To answer some questions she has children it was her 7th and her partners 3rd. She lives on the other side of the state so it is hard to physically be there for her. It has kind of fallen to me to be the one to help her because 2 years ago I lost a baby at 23 weeks pregnant because his heart was failing. A part of me feels bad because I had been feeling guilty about our choice to "deal" with it. The doctor had told me that if he had made it to term he wouldn't have lived more than a few hours and it was killing me. Because he was my third child we made the choice of my life and until I saw what she was going through I still had felt guilty. Now I know it was the right thing to do. Unfortunately she didn't get the tests that they recommend so they where unaware. So far I have tried to be her eternal optimiest while the baby was in the hospital and now I have told her I am here for her and just waiting to hear from her and hoping that soon she will stop trying to think about her husband and her children and let herself have a chance to grieve. There will be a funeral soon and thankfully it will be up near where I live (she is putting her in the family plot) so maybe I will be able to get the kids and give her some time to herself to just let it all sink in and let her finally let herself fully grieve. Also, we are not sure if it occurred but when the baby died she was with her and her cousin that is a minister was with her to baptize the baby.

Jami - posted on 06/01/2010

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take her lead...if she wants to talk, let her. if she doesn't want to talk, then just BE there for her.

sometimes a hug says more than words. also allow YOURSELF to grieve as that is your own niece you are talking about. (((hugs))) to you both.

Corena - posted on 05/31/2010

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I think Michelle's response is fantastic.
The only thing I would add is don't ever say anything to her that starts with the words..."At least..."

Tina - posted on 05/31/2010

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Just be by her side. Let her know you're there for her and do what ever you can to help her so she can spend as much time with her baby as possible.

Sherry - posted on 05/31/2010

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oh no.. I don't know what to say to help.. I have a cousin who lost her daughter after a few months in NICU.. I do not envy you your position.

The best I can suggest is be her sounding board, (or punching bag) or screaming dummy she's going to need it. She's going to need to rail at something (or someone) all I can suggest is to be there for her.

Kristin has a good poing. Get numbers for grief cousellors and support groups. She'll most likely fight you on it but she's going to need to get involved in something like this. IF she's got other children she'll most likely throw herself into raising them but may be a little clingy towards her children. Keep your eye out for depression and postpartom symptoms as well...

IF she chooses to get pregnant again suggest to her that she can request an amnio test done at about 16-22 weeks. This is a chromasom test to check for abnormalities but it's early enough she can make a decision about keeping the fetus ... I know it sounds crule but this is coming from a disabled mom who really couldn't take care of a child with sever disabilities (or abnormalities). Ultimately the choice would be hers though.

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