Sands Awareness Week – Finding the Words

Finding the Words

The Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Charity (Sands) is a national charity in the United Kingdom that supports anyone affected by the death of a baby. This year’s Sands awareness week is from the 17th – 23rd July and the theme is ‘finding the words.’ The aim of Sands awareness week is to engage with people on topics and subjects which mean so much to bereaved parents and families. This year’s focus is to help everyone ‘find the words’ to break the silence around pregnancy and baby death through talking.  

At 2wish, we know that when someone dies it can feel difficult to know what to say. It’s understandable to feel uncomfortable or to worry about offending someone, but staying silent or ignoring someone after their bereavement can make them feel worse. Often it is better to do or say something than nothing. It is important to remember that grief can be extremely isolating and that reaching out and connecting lets that person know they are not alone. Although challenging, it can make a huge difference when these topics of conversation are talked about. It is a belief system that aligns with our passion for elephants. The metaphorical ‘elephant in the room’ represents a difficult situation people don’t feel comfortable discussing but can’t avoid or hide from. It is something everyone is aware of but will not always address.  

At 2wish we want all our families to feel supported, safe and comfortable to always talk when they want to. Whilst each bereavement effects everyone in different ways, we have collated some tips to share ideas of how to help someone feel heard and find the words to support them through their grief.  

Ways That You Can Help

Acknowledge the death  


Try to reach out and acknowledge that their baby has died. If you see a bereaved parent, be brave and approach them and acknowledge their baby’s death and use their baby’s name. Sometimes people avoid the subject for fear of causing distress, but many bereaved parents want their baby acknowledged. 


Active listening and creating a safe space to talk 


It is ok to ask, ‘How are you?’ and check in. Make sure to give them time to talk in the right environment so that they feel heard. If you want to read more about how to start a conversation, try this link which has lots of ideas to support you. 


Offering practical support 


Practical support can really help families when a baby dies. It can be difficult to carry out everyday tasks so supporting with daily jobs like walking the dog, getting shopping or cleaning can be a valuable lifeline.  


Sharing memories 


Spend time with their family talking about the person who died. Memories are an important part of the bereavement process and both 2wish and Sands support families to create special memory boxes to keep forever.  


Reminding them you are here and thinking of them  


Check in with them regularly. Remember when their baby’s birthday is and send a message to let them know you are thinking of them. Light a candle for their baby during baby loss awareness week. 


Listening and being present 


Each person who is recently bereaved is on their own journey of grief. It can be described as a state of emotions to be supported, not a problem to be solved! It is therefore important to be patient and present and best not to make presumptions. Remove all pressures of talking if they are not ready, it may be that spending quality time with someone is all they want at times.  


Find more tips and information about Sands Awareness Week here.