Losing a child is likely to be devastating for any parent. If you know someone who has experienced this type of loss, you may have the urge to try to take away the pain or soothe it away. It’s important to remember that each person has their own grieving process, and that experiencing and working through grief can be very important. Instead of trying to take away the pain, offer your time and support to the parents and other family members. Knowing that they have your help if they need it may be one of the most welcome sympathy gifts that you can give.
Let the parent know that you are available to listen or simply be present while they grieve. You never know how valuable a simple word or gesture of kindness can be to someone who has experienced such a painful loss. Try not to impose yourself into the life of the person who is grieving, however; we all have our own ways of dealing with pain, and the parent may need some time to grieve, pray, or be alone with their memories. Grief takes time, and you shouldn’t try to rush someone else’s grieving process.
You should be on the lookout for extreme behavior or signs of severe depression. Even if the friend or loved one has close family around them, they may be too caught up in their own grief to realize how poorly the person is coping. If you notice that the person is drinking heavily or staying in bed for days in a row, they may need professional help. Reach out to the person’s family, a minister, or a counselor for assistance.
Memorial Gift Ideas
Before you give any sympathy gifts for the loss of a child, consider your relationship to the parent. If you don’t have a close personal relationship with the bereaved, you may want to consider a slightly less personal gift. You may want to send a card or flowers to the family, or make a donation in honor of the child to a cause you know they support. It’s likely that the parents have close friends and family around them, and while an honest expression of sympathy is likely to be welcome, it’s best not to intrude more if you don’t already have a close relationship.
If you do know the parent or parents well, however, think about what you know about them, their lives, and their interests. Families with several children may need help with the other kids, for example, and you could offer to babysit while the parents deal with making funeral arrangements. Food items are common sympathy gifts for the loss of a baby or child, but be sure that you consider what the family likes. Healthy dishes that can be frozen are a good idea, although comfort foods, like casseroles and desserts, get their name for a reason. If the family has been overwhelmed with food gifts, offer to help clean out the fridge or freezer and consider bringing your gift a few weeks later, after the initial outpouring of support has lessened.
Personalized Memorial Gifts
There are a range of sympathy gifts for the loss of a child that can be personalized for the family. If you want to give a gift to an individual parent, you might consider a piece of memorial jewelry. A mother who is religious might appreciate a memorial cross or angel pendant, for example. Many jewelry pieces can be engraved with a brief message or the name of the child. Other options include photo engraved jewelry, which has a photo of the child or family engraved directly onto the items, or print jewelry, which includes a fingerprint, handprint, or footprint of the deceased.
In some situations, such as a miscarriage or stillbirth, you may have no pictures or prints available. Jewelry can still be a good choice for stillborn memorial gifts. You may also want to consider a memorial garden stone, wind chimes, or stone statuary. Most of these items can be placed outside, and they may be used to create a special garden memorial to the child. Memorial candles and keepsake boxes can also make good gifts.
One unique and special sympathy gift that you may want to consider is a soft teddy bear keepsake holder. This bear comes in several sizes and has a zippered pocket in the back where cremains or other keepsakes can be kept. There is also a small pocket on the front. The teddy bear is soft and easy to hold, and a parent may find that it offers a physical source of comfort.
Give Patience and Understanding
No matter what type of sympathy gifts for the loss of a baby or child that you give, one of the most important things that you can do is give your patience and understanding. Consider your words and actions carefully, but try not to tiptoe around the grieving family. Unless you’ve actually lost a child yourself, telling a parent that you “know how they feel” may not be welcome. People grieve in different ways, and the person may be angry and scream or lash out. Remember that their reaction is likely not about you, and try not to take it personally.
If you’ve given the family a sympathy gift, they may choose not to display it. Some families appreciate having a memorial to their child in a special place where they can go and think about happy memories and experiences. Others simply find that type of reminder too painful. Remember as well that, just because the parent doesn’t want to display a gift when the loss is new, that doesn’t mean that it won’t be appreciated in the future when the grief is not so fresh.