For parents who are grieving the loss of a child, there are no words to ease the heartache and pain they feel. To make matters worse, bereaved parents may be avoided by others who do not know what to do or say.
It can be overwhelming to even try to offer words of comfort to moms and dads after the death of a child. However this is a time when they desperately need the support of friends and family.
You can help grieving parents in many ways. Here are some suggestions of things to say:
- “I’m sad for you.”
- “I’m here to listen.”
- “Take all the time you need.”
- “I can’t imagine how painful this must be for you.”
- “How can I help?”
- “Let’s spend some time together.”
- “It’s okay to be sad or angry around me.”
- “Tell me more about your child.”
- “I’m thinking about you.”
One of the hardest things about the death of a child is trying to figure out a reason for it.
It just doesn’t make sense, parents should not outlive their children.
With any death, the key to offering words of sympathy is to not give explanations or solutions for grief.
Avoid these statements:
- “God needed her more than we did.”
- “At least you have other children.”
- “It was God’s will.”
- “Your child is in a better place now.”
- “I know just how you feel.”
Don’t avoid parents grieving the loss of a child. It is okay that you cannot make it better or take away their pain.
Remember that it is simple gestures and words that mean so much to the grieving.
Ways to Help Grieving Parents Cope With the Loss of a Child
Be a friend who acknowledges the loss and is willing to talk about it or rather listen to them talk about their feelings and memories.
Realize that the family is under immense emotional strain. Any practical help you can provide with household chores, meals or childcare will be greatly appreciated. Parents need a chance to put life on hold and grieve.
Help them create ways of remembrance and rituals to commemorate the child’s life.
Here are some things you can suggest or do with them:
- Make a memory box for parents to keep momentos and pictures of their child.
- Plant a tree or flower in memory of the child.
- Bake cupcakes together on the child’s birthday and take them to a children’s hospital.
- Make a teddy bear or stuffed toy with pieces of fabric from the child’s clothing.
You may want to recommend a website for bereaved parent called The Compassionate Friends. They have an annual world-wide candle lighting and many other wonderful resources.