Losing a loved one is always difficult and painful. Losing a child can be a particularly devastating loss. How can you help parents who have experienced this kind of tragedy?
It’s not difficult to find a way to reach out. The important thing is to make an effort to let the grieving parents know you care.
- Don’t keep your distance. Sometimes, another person’s loss seems so unbearable that we shy away from approaching them. This is often the case with grieving parents, but they need the support of friends and family during this difficult time. Give them the space and opportunity to talk about their loss, providing a listening ear and your companionship. Don’t pressure them, but simply ask, “Do you feel like talking about this?”
- Do something simple but helpful. This could mean bringing a meal, mowing the lawn, providing childcare, running an errand or cleaning out a closet. Look for ways to help that are practical and will make life easier for the parents.
- Let them know their child is not forgotten. Share memories, and don’t be afraid to say the child’s name. Everyone grieves differently, but for many parents, it’s very important to hear that you remember their child and are very sorry that he or she is gone. Telling stories about your time knowing the child can bring comfort, and saying the name acknowledges that he or she was a real person. On the other hand, be sensitive to the fact that talking about their child may cause the parents pain, and be content to stay silent if that’s what they need.
- Consider a donation in memory of their child. Choose a charity that will be meaningful to the parents, and send them a note simply and plainly expressing your sadness over their loss.
- Steer clear of platitudes. You might think that saying something like “God needed another angel” is helpful, but it can actually cause more pain. There’s no way to make sense of such a terrible loss, and it’s better to stick to “I’m so sorry for your loss.” You can even be honest and say, “I don’t know what to say, but I’m here if you need me.” Don’t say, “I know how you feel” and don’t compare their loss to a loss you or someone else has experienced. Their pain is their own. Supporting them means being there for them, not trying to find pat answers.
Skylawn Memorial has spent almost 60 years helping families navigate their grief. Our compassionate, professional staff work tirelessly to help families in times of loss, and we are committed to treating them with compassion and respect. If you’ve suffered a loss, call us at (650) 227-3142to learn how we can help.