Talking to family and friends after losing a baby
Parents talked about how the loss affected their family and friends. Losing the baby had a wide impact. Many described feeling strongly supported, Emily remembered, “lots of kindness… it renews your faith in human beings sometimes.” However many parents felt that while friends and family wanted to offer support they didn’t always know how to do it, and that “no one knows what to say to you”. Some parents felt that family and friends didn’t talk about the loss because they were embarrassed or thought it would upset them. But the lack of talking was upsetting in itself. Vikki felt “they don't want to offend you or upset you. But actually by not doing anything, that is offending and upsetting me”. Some found that family and friends didn’t engage with them in the way they expected. Kirsty “wasn't prepared for how little people would speak”. Emily’s feelings were hurt when friends didn’t want to see the photos of her baby, as they were very meaningful to her. Some parents felt that friends and family thought they were “making a massive deal out of this” and wanted them to “move on” more quickly. Mike felt that “Everyone's so sorry for you, when they hear about it. But then … everyone's forgotten about it, in a way”. Isolation
For some parents the lack of helpful support led to a feeling of isolation from friends and family because “they just didn’t get it”. They talked about losing a wide circle of friends and close contact with family. Vikki felt the impact of not just losing her baby but also losing her friends as “you really see who is there for you and who isn’t”. Parents often felt this lack of helpful support was because most people had no experience or knowledge of baby loss, particularly this early in pregnancy. Kelly wrote to her work colleagues and talked to friends and family about how she felt and how she wanted to talk about her baby. She felt increasing their knowledge helped improve her relationships with them. Parents often felt they experienced more support from friends and family who had personally experienced the loss of a baby, or they sought support from and friendship with people they met through baby loss support groups. After the loss of their baby, parents were often told stories by friends and family of baby loss that they weren’t previously aware of. Parents often found it extremely difficult when close friends and family were pregnant or had small children. It was particularly hard for parents who were expecting their baby at the same time as their sister or brother or a close family friend. Sarah felt the loss of her son and her nephew growing up together as cousins. Some parents found friends and family were too scared to tell them they were pregnant and avoided talking about it. Some parents tried to “learn to celebrate with people, at the same time as feeling loss” by meeting up or talking to close friends and family with babies. Sharon found it hard because her sister-in-law had children at the same time that Sharon’s experienced the loss of her three babies, and so her husband’s mum “got the grandchildren that she wanted, and my babies were just, just seemed insignificant”. Parents we spoke to also talked about the impact of their loss on their relationship with their parents, as they were missing out on being grandparents to their child. Elaine and Emily both felt they were letting down their parents-in-law because they couldn’t provide them with a grandchild.