Like many communities, parenting circles develop specific terms to make communication easier. When you're still learning the lingo, however, this can make for a few moments of confusion. For instance, the term "angel baby" comes up a lot on parenting and conception message boards and other online social groups. But exactly what is an angel baby?
What is an angel baby?
The term “angel baby” refers to an infant who passes away during pregnancy or soon after birth. This euphemistic term gives grieving parents a simple way to reference their loss. Along with rainbow babies (a term that refers to children conceived after a loss), angel babies hold special significance for their parents.
Although baby loss is a difficult experience for everyone, angel babies can include a particular set of challenges. Miscarriage can induce feelings of grief and guilt, and it's important to feel your feelings during this time. If the pregnancy was not yet announced, you may face an additional sense of isolation.
Of course, coping with a stillbirth or neonatal death is heartbreakingly difficult and can be isolating, too. Although your friends and family are most likely aware of the situation, they may have an especially difficult time knowing how to help you through such intense grief. And your own emotions are probably all over the place. The experience of leaving the hospital without a baby is uniquely crushing, and friends and loved ones may not know what to say or do.
How to support a friend experiencing baby loss
With this in mind, it's important for parents of angel babies to have a space to share their emotions. For some parents, holding a memorial service can be healing. Visiting support groups, whether in-person or online, can also put parents of angel babies in touch with others who are in a similar situation. Professional counseling is also a good way to cope with the grief associated with this loss.
If your loved one is coping with the loss of an angel baby, then there are a few things you can do to help them feel supported. Simply listening to your friend, and perhaps bringing over a meal, is a thoughtful way to comfort a grieving parent. Acknowledging their loss, as well as the fact that their baby did exist, is especially kind. To their parents, angel babies are as loved as any child.