11 Things to Put in a Care Package After Miscarriage or Stillbirth–or Other Loss

by | Sep 4, 2020 | Research | 27 comments

Care Package for Someone Who is Grieving

When someone you love is grieving, how can you reach out and do something tangible to help?

Today is the 24th anniversary of my son Christopher’s death (you can read more about that here).

I know many of you have walked through grief, too: miscarriages, stillbirths. Even the death of children or other loved ones.

When you watch someone you love going through that, you want to help. But what do you do?

I like to make sure that every year, around the time of Christopher’s death, I circle back to remember him, but also point us to some ways that we can process grief ourselves, or help others through theirs.

My favourite picture of me with my son.

Others on the Bare Marriage team have also gone through grief, and I invited Joanna to write this for me today.

A friend of mine had a miscarriage last week and it immediately took me back to my own miscarriage in June of last year.

As I recovered, with a lot of help from family and friends, I was really blessed to receive several care packages. Each of them made me feel very loved and included things that I’ve found really comforting. After I got off the phone with my friend, I knew that I wanted to bring her a box, too, to pass on the blessing I had been given. Once I’d gotten going on one care package box, I started thinking about a family member whose sister has terminal cancer and I figured I should put a box together for both of them, too.

If you want to reach out to someone who is grieving, here are 11 things that you can put in a care package for someone who has had a miscarriage or another grief:

Care Package Item #1: A nice, decorative box

A lost baby leaves behind little mementos – ultrasound photos, saved pregnancy tests, maybe even medical bracelets. Similarly, funeral papers, dried flowers, and other mementos are nice to keep after a loved one’s funeral and it’s really nice to have a place to put them. I was grateful to receive a care package in a pretty box, which allowed me to put everything in a lovely place, but spared me the agony of having to go and pick out the “perfect box” for such a horrible reason. My box is still out months later, a reminder of the baby we longed for and held in our hearts.

Grief Care Package Item #2: A Letter

Amazing letter writing skills are not required, but the point of the care package is usually not for the person to open it in your presence, so you’ll need to include instructions and explanations for what has been included. You’ll also want to share your story and offer support. Be sure to note that the recipient shouldn’t feel obligated to use anything, but should instead feel free to use whatever is helpful for them.

Letter in a Grief Care Package

Care Package Item #3: A Highlighted Bible

I was truly touched when I opened my box and I found a Bible with a whole variety of verses highlighted for me and I would say that this is my one “must have” for a grief care package. It’s nice to have a new Bible and nice to have one to use while processing grief and loss. I went through and highlighted Bibles for the different care packages I’m putting together and made a pretty

Care Package Item #4: A Notebook

Loss comes with a lot of feelings. A notebook is a great way to offer the option to write out all the turmoil that comes with grief – without having the stress of having bought something and therefore feeling obligated. I was given a notebook after my miscarriage and I didn’t end up using it to process, but after other difficult things I’ve found myself letting it all out by journaling.

Care Package Item #5: Meaningful Music to Process Grief

I absolutely love Andrew Peterson’s Resurrection Letters Volume 1 – it’s a beautiful reflection on Jesus’ resurrection. I’ve found it to be so comforting as I’ve navigated my various and sundry losses in the last year and so I’m happy to pass it along. Remembering the manger, the cross, and the empty tomb is the anchor my soul needs in difficult times and music really helps me do that.

Care Package Item #6: How Big is Your Umbrella, Sheila’s book on grief

Sheila wrote a book about grief years ago, telling her story of losing Christopher. Throughout my grieving process, Sheila has always been so understanding and has been there with kindness, a listening ear, and she’s helped keep my busy, which always helps me! I’ve been so helped by Sheila’s willingness to share her story of grief and her loss was so universal that it will connect with anyone who is going through difficult times themselves.

Care Package Item #7: Bible Verse Cards to help you through grief

I designed Bible memory cards for me to use with my daughter – she’s got a TON of her books memorized and I figured she could start on Bible verses while she’s at it. #nerdalert

When I started putting together care packages, I realized it would be really easy to get the pictures printed as 4 by 6 photos and then give them as part of the package with a small photo album, as easy reminders for difficult days.

Care Package Item #8: Supper

Bringing food in addition to your care package is always appreciated! But if you don’t have time, space, or expertise to make food, you can also purchase a meal kit from a company like Hello Fresh or Blue Apron so that you can give someone the gift of not having to worry about what is for dinner. A friend brought me dinner after my miscarriage and family came to help take care of me, my baby, and my house, which was so helpful.

Care Package Item #9: Tea and self care items

Peppermint tea just helps. Put in a pretty box and throw in any self-care items you think might be helpful. Maybe there’s a candle on sale? Or a pretty smelling bath bomb? Sheet masks are very in? Whatever feels right for the person you’re giving a gift to, but think of a way to give them something cozy, that will feel like a retreat from the intensity of what’s going on around them.

Bonus: Grief care package Items I’d add specifically for a miscarriage

Care Package Item #10: A Sweet Stuffie

My mother-in-law gave my a sweet bunny after my miscarriage. The bunny stayed on our bed, as a reminder of the child we had longed for and lost, for awhile. Then, I moved bunny into my daughter’s stash of lovies, and somehow, watching her play with that special bunny reminds me of the dreams I had of the baby we lost playing with his or her big sister and I feel a little closer to our little one in heaven. Someday, they will play together. If you’re looking for a stuffed animal, I’d recommend one that looks whimsical and babyish, since you’re choosing one to be a reminder of the baby who was lost.

Teddy Bear for a Grief Care Package

Care Package Item #11: Gifts for older children

When I had my miscarriage, I didn’t cry much. Weeping is a part of grief for many people, but it hasn’t been for me. I tend to keep on trucking and tell myself that I’m fine. But usually, when I’m sad, I’m pretty darn numb to the world and in the first weeks after losing my baby I found myself finding it hard to connect with my daughter. I got annoyed easily. I was prickly. I wasn’t my best self. All of that passed within a few weeks, but it was a difficult thing to have happen. That’s a big part of why I’ve included a small book that can be sung along with a child in the care package for my friend, to give her a way to connect with her sweet girl and hopefully get a smile, in the midst of the hard, however grief manifests itself for her. I chose a book that is meaningful, but not a tear jerker – it’s not time for that, now.

Bonus. It doesn’t end with a care package

It’s hard to know how to talk to someone about a loss. I know that I usually answer questions about how I’m doing with a bit of polite fiction, especially if I don’t want to get into it. “We’re just so enjoying our toddler,” I’ll say.

I don’t mention how totally gutted we are that we aren’t welcoming a new baby at Christmas. I haven’t managed to get pregnant again and if I’m being honest, the months of cycling through hope and despair has been awful and I’m emotionally running on empty. I knew when I miscarried that I would very much like to be pregnant again before the due date of the baby we lost and there’s still a chance of that, but it’s getting slimmer and slimmer. This isn’t the ending I’d hoped for in any way, shape, or form, and I’m grieving the family that I longed for – the family with kids close together in age.

Grief takes time and comes in waves and stages. So do check in regularly with your friends and ask how they’re doing, or tell them you’re praying for them. That kind of kindness means the world to me. I’ve noticed, after a few years of repeated heartaches, that many people I’m close to don’t know how to check in… and so they don’t. Honestly, that is far more hurtful than if they said something a little wrong. You don’t need to ask someone for all of the gory details, and as I said, it’s likely that a grieving person will give you an overly optimistic response, but it means a lot to be asked.

Update: Joanna wrote this piece last summer, when she was still reeling from her miscarriage. A few weeks ago, she and her husband welcomed little Talitha into the world!

You may also enjoy:

Do you have an idea for what would be #12? Leave it in the comments!

Written by

Joanna Sawatsky


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Joanna Sawatsky

Author at Bare Marriage

Joanna Sawatsky has a Masters in Public Health and is a trained microbiologist, epidemiologist, and biostatistician. A Pittsburgh native, she headed north to Saskatchewan to marry her Mennonite prince charming, Josiah. After living in the far Arctic while running stats for the books, they now live with their two little girls in Alberta. ENFJ 1w2.

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  1. Joy

    I love this. Something else that helped me after my miscarriage was the book Hannah’s Hope by Jennifer Saake. It validated a lot of my emotions because many in my church were encouraging me to just hope and push through the pain. And I just needed to grieve.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Why is it that people are so uncomfortable with grief? I’m sorry you were rushed. Yes, that it is a great book that I’ve heard others mention, too!

  2. Doug Hoyle

    Nothing to add but to say that I am sorry for your loss. I hope you can take some time for yourself today. I suppose you already know this, but anniversaries like this can be really hard. Still trying to fully recover from the last one, which was only a little more than a week ago, and I haven’t been able to take that time. Maybe this weekend…..

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thanks, Doug. I think we’re going to go for a hike today with my daughter and son-in-law and get out in nature. It is a beautiful day here.

      • Anon

        I can add to the topic of loss in general, not miscarriage specific but loss of a loved one.
        More ideas of tangible gifts are household supplies or grocery runs. If the grieving family has lots of company they will be going through toilet paper, coffee, garbage bags etc I would have never thought of this until I was part of that family and received so many thoughtful things from others.
        Please let the person know atleast that you think of them and you can acknowledge the loss without pressuring them to go into detail. Something like “Hey you’re on my mind today and I imagine there are still days you miss them terribly. I’m praying that you have peace today.”
        Please consider that months and months later, functioning day to day is still challenging for those with loss. We may look like we’re functioning because we have no other choice but it’s difficult and it feels like a chunk of our critical thinking and focus is just gone, consumed.
        I don’t expect my friends to be in the depths with me but just try to learn grief if you haven’t had personal experience with it. People will look different in their grief but there are lots of things in common we experience.
        One common thing that I’d say with grief is we never ever forget. Never. Just like Sheila with the loss of her beautiful son. The degrees of pain do change but we are forever without a person we wanted in our lives forever and they’re gone. They’ve become a memory we so desperately want to hang on to.
        If you’re an anniversary person, write down the dates and send a text saying “Hey! Thinking of you on their birthday.”
        And suppers and care packages can be welcome a long time later.
        I’d add with saying be sensitive to the Holy Spirit. Ask Him to help you with your friend. Days where that grieving friend is strongly on your mind there might be a reason! They might be having a super crummy day and need someone to encourage and remember. They might not always tell someone so trust the Holy Spirit’s leading. Bring them supper if they want or ask to take their kids or bring cheery flowers because they were on your mind, invite them for a walk. Or if you’re up for it let them know they are on your mind and be willing to ask how they are really doing and get ready to listen to their thoughts and sit with them through their tears.
        You can do your thing that reminds them they’re not alone or crazy to still be hurting a “long” time later. And there’s no timeline. We don’t begin functioning days after the funeral when the meals stop rolling in.
        And if they weren’t having a lousy day after all it’s not a waste! It’s a way to feed a friendship and goes a long way to still encourage. When the next really hard day hits that friend will remember you are one of the ones that cares and remembers.
        I hope I don’t come across as self absorbed in my grief. If someone near me lost someone I’d be hesitant how to help them even though I have an idea. Because we are different and I wouldn’t want to say something wrong and oddly enough, emotions still make me uncomfortable even though I’ve been around all sorts over the last while. What I’ve said comes from thankfulness to those who have come along side. And I think I have friends who genuinely want to help me but don’t know how and want to know. So this is one version of grief.

        • Kristen

          “We don’t begin functioning days after the funeral when the meals stop rolling in.”
          Man, that hits home.
          It’s been over three years since my uncle, who was more like the big brother I never had, died. So many people say they dread the funeral and they can’t wait to get it over with. I don’t relate to that at all, and here’s why.
          At the funeral (and in the days leading up to it), it’s okay, it’s socially acceptable to lose control of your emotions (something I hate doing) in public. At the funeral, the whole town (mine was small) is there, grieving, crying with you. At the funeral, everyone is aware of the fact that your heart has just been shredded. No one expects you to focus, or smile.
          But as the funeral service wound up that day, I got panicky inside, not just because this was the last time I would physically see my uncle, but because I knew the public dynamic of grief would change after this. And it did. I had to go back to work the next day. I still had to interact with society.
          I still remember sitting on my parents’ front porch that night, staring up at the stars and thinking how all the people I’d leaned on that week were exhausted – they had no words left for me. Which is understandable, and I don’t fault them at all. It is too much a burden to bear the fullness of another’s grief. But it was still such a bleak moment. THAT was when the reality of the loss struck me.
          And you’re right, Anon; we never forget. We heal, but we never forget. In the last year or so, I thought I was fairly well adjusted to the loss, but when the three year anniversary of my uncle’s death came around a few weeks ago, I surprised myself with more tears than I had shed since 2017. Maybe it was because I was getting ready to move away the following week, but I was so sad that he couldn’t be there to wish me well on a new adventure. It hurt, but that hurt was a gift. It let me know that no matter how much I heal and adjust to “life after,” I still miss him and grieve for him on some unspoken, often subconscious level. He’s still close to my heart. There is comfort in that sort of pain.

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          That’s lovely, Anon. Thank you.
          And I totally second what you said about anniversaries! I have a few friends that always text me on the anniversary, and it really does matter.

  3. Jane Eyre

    I’m so sorry for you and Sheila. May God comfort you and your families.
    Those are great ideas. Our culture pretends that miscarriage doesn’t happen, and if it’s uncomfortable for me (a woman who never miscarried but whose heart was in her throat for the first trimester), I cannot imagine what it’s like for mothers who have suffered that loss. People pretend that it doesn’t happen, and if it does, that it’s no biggie. Thank you for putting out these ideas to help comfort grieving families.

    • Doug Hoyle

      You really only see half of it. A few years ago, the wife of one of my foremen miscarried, and he asked me for a few days off to support her. I told him to take care of things at home. My boss caught wind of it, and first tried to convince him that he shouldn’t take the time off, that he would be better off at work where he could keep his mind occupied on other things, and then tried to come down on me for approving the time off. As bad as it is in womens worlds, most women acknowledge the pain associated with it. For men, it is treated as if it never happened.

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        That’s very true, Doug. I’m glad you supported your employee.

      • Cynthia

        Good for you for doing the right thing.
        My husband got a call from me in the middle of his shift at the hospital when I had my first miscarriage, and luckily the chief resident took over and he came running.
        The next day, we had been scheduled to fly out to a conference, where he was supposed to present a research poster. He made some calls to cancel our tickets and arrange for someone else to take the poster – but both my father and his said that he could go, the family would made sure I was okay. He was upset by that. He wouldn’t have left me at that time, and more than that, it was his loss too!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      It is such a huge loss. And it’s amazing how many couples have gone through it. We don’t talk about it enough.

  4. Kara Thompson

    Grief is so heavy, and often very debilitating. I think #8 is an excellent suggestion because of its practicality. When things feel dark it’s difficult to maintain regular functions, like cooking meals. I think that would be so meaningful to receive a home cooked meal during a head spinning loss.

  5. Wifey

    One of my best friends had been married 4 years and had had 4 miscarriages by the time I got married. As a single gal trying to love my friend in the best possible way, I asked her what she needed each time. I didn’t just assume it was the same for each loss. One thing I always did, and still do, is send her the prettiest Mother’s Day card I can find. And not one about grief either, in her case I know she needs to be remembered and celebrated, not reminded. After she had 3 losses in 3 months and had to physically take it easy for a while I sent a DVD set of an entire season of a fun TV show.
    When I experienced my first miscarriage at 5 weeks long during our 7th week of marriage she was the first person I told. She was so sweet and prayed for me with so much kindness. With all 3 of my miscarriages I was far from family and had no friends besides my dear husband. I can vouch for how alone it feels in those situations. There were a few moments where God really prompted others, and their care meant so much. A couple ordered a pizza for us. My nurse friend who walked with me through the medical side as well as the spiritual side of loss made me a beautiful hand stamped necklace that said ‘Wildly Loved’ and added birthstone beads for my babies birth into heaven. A lady in our building whom I was friendly with and had just asked her recommendations for a midwife right before we lost that little one, put a half dozen roses on our porch. A sweet friend remembered my due date and sent a bouquet of flowers that day to say I was not forgotten.
    Those are just a few thoughts from my experiences. It means so much that people take the time to be the hands and feet of Jesus during hard times and give tangible reminders that they are loved!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s all so lovely, Wifey. That sounds like what a community should be like.

  6. edl

    One of the most comforting things I received after surgical removal of a tubal pregnancy was a sympathy card. Not a “Get Well Soon” or “Thinking of You” card but a true, sorry-for-your-loss, “Sympathy” card. To me this action, this card, spoke understanding that this was indeed a person, a child, that had been lost along with our hopes and dreams. I appreciated that the card was very simple with few words. On the front was “In Sympathy”. Inside it said “I am sorry for your loss.” and the Bible verse John 10:11a “I am the Good Shepherd”. I now have that panel of that card with that verse framed and on my dresser. It is a tangible reminder that He is, indeed, our Good Shepherd through all of life’s griefs, disappointments and pain.

  7. edl

    I agree with Anon, to trust the Holy Spirit to guide you in how to comfort someone after a loss. Although we had several pregnancies, my husband and I have never had the privilege of welcoming our children into our arms here on earth.
    My sister did have children and now has beautiful grandchildren. My niece, with good intentions, sent me Happy Mother’s Day cards for several years. Although it was given in love, receiving such a card was very painful. It felt like a sad consolation prize-reminder of what we did not have and never would.
    So, yes, trust the Holy Spirit to guide you in how to comfort someone.
    On the plus side, my niece was sweet in giving me the nickname “Aunt Nana” for her children (my sister’s grandchildren) to call me. For me, it is a thoughtful inclusion without being overdone.
    Only the Holy Spirit knows what we need.

  8. Diane

    Precious Moments made a figurine of a Mother handing a baby to an Angel. That helped me finally grieve and acknowledge that my miscarriage at 11 weeks, was indeed “real”. I hadn’t wanted to be pregnant so soon after my first and was “hoping/praying/fingers crossed” that I wouldn’t be. So, my neighbor reminded me I had brought it on myself since I hadn’t wanted it, that God gives us what we ask for/deserve. I guess I will always think that.

    • Wild Honey

      Miscarriage was NOT your fault. And your neighbor’s theology, while it may have been well-intentioned, is at odds with scriptures that describe God as full of mercy, abounding in loving kindness and steadfast love, and faithful to a thousand generations.

      • Diane

        Thank you. She was a Pastor’s wife and I didnt know anything except that I didnt know anything. Thank you. I appreciate your reply.

    • Madeline

      I second Wild Honey; that pastor’s wife was completely mistaken. Regardless of whether or not you planned the pregnancy, that was just as much your child and you did nothing to cause or deserve the miscarriage.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, Diane, what a horrible thing for your neighbour to say! Please don’t carry that with you. It’s okay to reject that thought. You may not have wanted the baby initially, but that is not your fault that the baby died. And you would have loved that baby. I’m sorry.

    • Cynthia

      That’s such a horrible thing for her to have said!
      I struggled with a lot of “irrational” guilt and shame after my first miscarriage. It was in 1998, just before we got high-speed internet, and I didn’t have any idea just how common miscarriage was. Instead, all the books and magazines seemed to talk about endless lists of rules to follow to make sure that you gave your baby the best start and didn’t harm them. So, when I had a loss after I had tried so hard to do everything perfectly, it was hard to avoid feeling like I had somehow failed, and I had a deep fear that people would blame me. That feeling honestly made things a lot worse for me.
      It didn’t really go away until I actually did some medical research on causes of miscarriage. The biggest single cause is chromosomal error – which means that there may have been a problem with the egg or sperm, or in the very early process of fertilization and cell division long before you could have known you were pregnant. It made me feel a bit better to know that things had likely been doomed right from the beginning, that it was never possible for this pregnancy to develop into a living baby and that nothing I did could have changed that.

  9. Wild Honey

    I am sorry for your loss, Joanna, and for yours, Sheila. We lost our first child to a missed miscarriage. It sucked. It still does, eight years and two additional children later.
    For me, this post highlights that different people grieve differently. I know some people who kept and treasured every single note and card and gift they received in the wake of a loss. Over the years, I have thrown away or donated almost everything that was given to us. I still treasure knowing that people were thinking of us and went to the thought and effort of writing and sending something, but don’t take it personally if you send something to a grieving individual and find out it wasn’t kept.
    I saved the onesie my in-laws gave us, but every time I brought it out to put on our daughter after she was born, it was just too gut wrenching. I eventually donated it, so someone who doesn’t have the associated baggage can be blessed by it. In the immediate aftereffects of the loss, I was very mistrustful of God. A bible or scripture notecards would have been awkward, at the least.
    I saved some momentos that we keep out, but they’re all things I personally picked out for the baby before the miscarriage. They remind me of the joy we felt, and not the grief we later experienced. An ultrasound photo sits with our family photos, so it’s not like I’m trying to hide what happened. Maybe it’s just my type A personality, I dunno.
    Mother’s Day is still bittersweet. We skip church that day and have a zero-pressure family day, instead.
    At the time, miscarriage felt like an invisible grief. I think this is changing, and I think that is a good thing.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I hear you, Wild Honey. We’re all different.
      Twenty odd years later, it’s actually been wonderful to me to see my little grandson wearing some of the sleepers we bought for Christopher. And he has Christopher’s blanket. I don’t think I could have done it then (we didn’t really use those clothes on Katie, who came a year later), but it’s nice to see them on my grandson.
      We’re all different, and I think we just need to give ourselves permission to grieve the way we want to grieve.


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