Sunday, February 17, 2008

How to Comfort a Grieving NICU Parent

Following the hospitalization of a newborn in the NICU, Family and Friends of the NICU Parents may themselves be feeling some grief over the situation and feel helpless and unsure what they can do.

They may want nothing more than to find a way to wrap the NICU parent in a blanket to comfort them, much like Linus with his security blanket.

Even though family and friends may not feel that they know what to do, what to say or how to offer comfort, grieving parent(s) need to know that their family and friends are there to support them.

Perhaps the most important thing for friends and family to do is to let the grieving NICU parents know that you are thinking of them and are supporting them during the challenging time.

Ways to Comfort a Grieving NICU Parent

To show your support and comfort a grieving NICU parent take a look at the different suggested phrases. Choose one of the suggestions or modify a phrase so it feels more like something you would say (or write) yourself.

Suggested for Phrases to Use

Some of my personal favorites:

  • I am sorry for your loss.
  • I wish you didn't have to experience this.
  • I am sorry that this happened to you.
  • I am thinking of you during this difficult time. (usually written)
Some additional phrases that could also work:
  • I'm so sorry.
  • I wish you comfort.
  • I hope things will be good.
  • I wish this hadn't happened to you.
Health care providers may be at a loss to find the right words that can bring comfort to a NICU parent. The following are suggestions from a paper that I wrote which can be to use by NICU Providers when talking with a grieving person or parent.
  • I'm sad for you.
  • I don't know why it happened.
  • What can I do for you?
  • How are you doing/coping with all of this?
  • How can I help?

When picking something to say use the phrase that resonates the most with you, then let the parent(s) know either verbally or in a written message that you are there for them during this challenging time.

What Brought You Comfort?

Most NICU parents can remember the awful things that people say to them. These leave indelible etchings in our memories.

I would like to encourage visitors to comment on the things people said or the phrases have helped you during your time of loss.

Note: This is a modified version of the article Tips on Offering Comfort to a Grieving NICU Parent published on the Type-A Mom Site in February 2008.


Dyer KA. What You Can Say or Do for a NICU Parent. January 2008. NICU Parent Support Blog.
Dyer KA. What can I *say* when a NICU baby dies? June 2006. NICU Parent Support Blog.
Dyer KA. Identifying, Understanding, and Working with Grieving Parents in the NICU, Part II: Strategies. Neonatal Network. June/July 2005; 24: 27-40.

<>Dyer KA. 2006. My NICU Baby's Died: Now What? on
Dyer KA. 2007. How to Write a Condolence Note. on

Image: Benjamin Earwicker. Cozy. Royalty Free Use.

No comments: