Supporting a Parent Who Lost a Child

a woman looking stressed out with her hand on her head

Losing a child is one of the most difficult things that a person can go through.  No matter how old the child is, the pain is going to be some of the strongest you have ever experienced.  If you are a parent who lost a child,  you can probably count the things that people have said to you that you wish they had not.  Many people may think that they are trying to be comforting and helpful, but sometimes their comments feel more like a swift kick to the shins.  If you are struggling for what to say to someone who is grieving the loss of a child, here are a few options of what not to say and maybe some things that you could say instead.

Four Things You Should Never Say To A Parent Who Lost A Child

#1 Everything Happens for a Reason

Everything does not necessarily happen for a reason.  At least not that we of this world know about.  Sometimes life just does not make sense.  We all want for the world to be a safe place all the time, but that just is not the case.  Losing a child or knowing someone who has lost a child is one of the fastest ways to feel how unsafe the world can be.  One of the best things that you can say to grieving parents is that the death of their child does not make sense, that it is not fair, and that you wish there was something you could do to take away some of their suffering.

#2  Time Heals All Wounds

This is not entirely true either.  Rather than healing all wounds, time can soften a wound and change the ways in which grief effects you.  No matter how much time passes, not all wounds are going to heal.  The wound of losing a child will stay with you forever, but you will be able to experience it in different ways as you get further from the death.  It could be a good idea for you to ask the grieving person what you can do to help.  You could also just let him or her know that you are there and you are available to help if you are needed.

#3  Be Thankful

Telling someone to be thankful when he or she has just lost one of the most important things in his or her life will seem insensitive and like you do not understand the pain that is truly going on.  The most common things that others tell grieving parents to be thankful for is that living children, that they had the child at all, or that they can have more children.  The people who bring up these things often do not know if these are really the things that the parent should be thankful for.  These parents may not be able to have more children.  They may not have more children.  And they are more thankful than anyone could ever know for the time they had with their deceased child.  Their gratitude for every single moment they had with that child is what keeps them from staying in bed all day and choosing to leave the world behind.  Rather than telling the parent to be thankful, you should tell him or her that you are thankful for the time you had with the child, that you are thankful for them, and that you are thankful for their friendship.

 #4  Move on, or Let Go

When you tell a parent grieving the loss of a child to move on and get over it, you are causing that parent pain and you are rubbing salt into an already gaping wound.  The only things that these parents have to hold on to is the memories of this child and the love for him or her.  There is no moving on from that.  These grieving parents will always have both of those things.  They will not stop loving and thinking about and caring for a child who is lost to them.  They will not give up on a child who they would have gladly traded places with.

As mentioned earlier, it gets a little easier to carry around the weight of missing someone so much.  The hurt gets a little softer and more manageable, but there is not going to be a time when letting go of a lost child can truly happen.  Instead, let the parents know that you are there to walk beside them and hold on to them.  That is really what they need the most.

For support and advice on how to cope with the loss of a child, please call our Boca Raton office.