If They’ve Lost a Child, They Need Your Support
The four most important truths about grieving parents, who benefit enormously from care and kindness
We all know someone who is grieving the untimely loss of a child — or, alas, we will. Prepare yourself for the day. Knowing what to say or do will help you bring some comfort to the desperately grieving.
I know this for all the wrong reasons: I lost my own daughter, Cindy, to cancer in 2013. She herself was a mom of two children.
When you meet the bereaved person on the street, at the supermarket or at any other public place, don’t bypass the awkward moment. Don’t distance yourself from the grieving. Instead — be there for these friends, neighbors and dear ones — and be with them.
Remember, the grieving need a little for a short time — and a lot for a long time. Here are four invaluable tips for how to make this happen in a meaningful way.
1.) Know that the loss of a child has a lifelong impact on a parent. You cannot expect a recovery from a tragedy of this magnitude in any time frame you may set aside for it. Healing will take years to a lifetime.
Plan on a long-term commitment of compassion, understanding and patience. Do not believe that people can offer up all of their condolences at the time of the loss, think they've done their share of being sympathetic — and move on.
The bereaved receive so much in the beginning. Then as time passes, the sympathy begins to disappear, just like all the food brought to them in the beginning that then becomes a trickle and stops. The grieving need hugs and words of comfort for a long time to come.
The solution is to think long term. The tasty food will soon perish, but so much else is needed on an ongoing basis. Bring coffee, paper towels, toilet paper, paper plates and the like — these can be used long after the funeral and services are over. Likewise, remember that while the pain and hurting may recede somewhat, this is a long journey. The grieving need understanding for a long time.
2.) Remember the sweet sound of the deceased's name. Most grieving parents love to hear it — so don't change the direction of the conversation if they include their own child in the discussion.
And don't quit saying the child's name because you think that will make them cry. If they do cry, they're tears of remembrance.
Hearing the lost children's names assures the grieving these children are not forgotten. They need to know that their memory lives on. This is vital. Assurances are needed that they're not the only ones who think of and remember their dear lost loved ones.
Talk about them. Share stories. Grieving parents still and always will love them as a part of their lives.
3.) Share the pain. The grieving are so paralyzed by heartache that it is hard for them to resume a normal routine or life. They may not want to go out, grocery shop, or even answer the phone for a while.
And don't expect them to come to you. They can't. (go to page 2 to continue reading)