The Baby 1st Network recognizes that parents who experience a loss of a child due to miscarriage, stillbirths, birth defects, SIDS, and other causes in many cases turn to their religious leaders for comfort to help get them through such difficult times. The Baby 1st Network has begun to seek out resources that can assist the faith-based community in providing the type of support needed.  

Examples of these types of resources are listed below. Please take a few moments to review excerpts from the African American Faith-Based Bereavement Initiative from the SUID/SIDS Project at the National Center for Cultural Competence [Georgetown Center for Child and Human Development and the SUID/SIDS Program Support Center at First Candle].  

“Families who have experienced these types of losses report that many people in the congregation are not aware of their loss. They further report that those who do know seem to avoid them or avoid talking to them about their loss. It would be helpful for churches to provide ways for families, who are interested, to receive the support that they need.” 

Lessons Learned

  • African American families and communities bear an unacceptably higher burden of pregnancy and infant loss when compared with other racial and ethnic groups.
  • Families do not quickly “get over” the loss of a pregnancy or a baby - we have to be willing to go the distance in supporting them.
  • When families turn to their churches and clergy, they need informed and compassionate support.
  • “Being there” and listening is most helpful - no one can “fix it” or take away the pain.
  • Understanding one’s own reactions to grief and loss are key to providing compassionate support to others.
  • When families need more support than the clergy or other church members can provide, then churches need to know how to help them find effective support in the community and to support them in seeking that support.

Georgetown Center for Cultural Competence: African American Faith-Based Bereavement Initiative 

We encourage churches and clergy to contact our office at (800) 477-7437 for additional resources that may help support families who have experienced the sudden death of their infant.