What should I say when someone I know has lost a child?
When someone close to you loses a child, it might feel difficult to know what to say and the fear of saying the wrong thing can make us feel anxious. Here’s just a few ways in which you can help:
Acknowledging their loss – Saying how sorry you are for their loss is a good start. Talk about their precious child; parents love to hear your memories about their dear children. They love to hear their child’s name. Often parents will talk about them in the present tense, as for the bereaved parent; their child is still ‘here’.
Remember; once a parent- always a parent. They will always be a mummy or a daddy. Should they cry, it’s most probably because you have taken the time to mention their child and not because you have upset them, note their level of insurmountable sadness and devastation is way off the scale already.
Keep in touch – Keep phoning, send a card, a text, an email – let them know you are thinking of them- especially after the funeral…. parents need your support long into their grieving journey.
Listen – This is much more important than the words you say… expect tears, just be ‘present’ with parents.
Offer practical help – Rather than saying: ‘I’m here if you need me’, say ‘Shall I bring a casserole around tomorrow?’
Invite parents to events- They may well decline but invite them anyway. Keep inviting them, keep including them. As parents navigate their terrible loss, having you there as their friend will give them a sense of belonging, of being supported; that they are not alone.
Let them know that you are ok with them refusing your support and that’s ok too. Be patient with them, they may not know they need help or support. Their life has been turned upside down and they will be in shock for some time.