- What do I say to a bereaved parent or grandparent?
- Will it cause them more pain if I mention their child?
- Is it best to avoid them and the topic?
Actually, please do not avoid families that have lost a child or had any traumatic loss. They need your support! Based on the feedback I have gotten from hundreds of families who’ve lost a child, and on my own experiences – we want you to approach us, to mention our child’s or loved one’s name, to acknowledge them.
It is not possible for you to make our pain any worse, so do not worry about it. For quite some time, that pain and memory never leaves, it is ‘in our face’ – you don’t enflame it. However, when you acknowledge our loss, we feel supported. When you mention our child’s name or say something nice about them, we feel comforted. When you stay and LISTEN, really welcoming us to talk or vent – it helps relieve the sorrow a bit.
Many do not do this. Most people avoid us in stores, neighborhoods, at gatherings or events. Emotionally, it feels to us like they want to run away, like they might be afraid this type of tragedy is contagious and that it might happen to them – if they acknowledge it or think about it.
It is very difficult to think about – or talk about – or to understand — if it hasn’t happened to you. We get that. It is okay to say that to us – or whatever you are truly feeling; but truth is better than pretending not to see us. We usually notice you running the other way or around corners in supermarkets – and it hurts.
None of us would wish this sort of thing on anyone else, not even our worst enemies. But it did happen to us, and we have to deal with it. Having others recognize that, offer to help, or just to listen – helps in itself.
In the early stages, offering to do mundane tasks for us is great – we can hardly think as our bodies and brains are in shock. Later on, when family and friends have left after the funeral, and reality starts to set in over the next three to six months, we may be depressed and struggling. We could seriously use someone to talk with, even beyond our therapist or those we live with. In the same household, we all grieve differently, which can be annoying or hard to understand, but often we are all trying to protect each other in the house and don’t share or talk enough about our feelings.
Please consider reaching out to someone you know that has had such a traumatic loss, but especially please do not run away when you see them by chance. Stop for a moment, ask how they are doing – if you can help – and listen to what they may need to tell you. Thank you!
Supporting the journey to HOPE…
PS Please consider forwarding this information to someone you know that may need it, thank you.