Thursday, July 23, 2009

Helping Bereaved Parents

Helping a person who has lost a child:

- Show your care and concern
- Be available - to listen, run errands, watch other children, or whatever else is needed at the time
- Say that you are sorry about what happened to the child and about their pain
- Reassure them that they did everything that they could; that the special medical care that their child received was the best, or whatever you know to be true and positive about the care given to their child
- Allow them to express as much grief as they are feeling and are willing to share
- Encourage them to be patient, not to expect too much or impose too many "shoulds" on themselves
- Allow them to talk about the child that they lost as much and as often as they desire
- Talk about the special, endearing qualities of the child they have lost
- Give special attention to the child's brothers or sisters - both at the funeral and in months to come. They, too, are hurt, confused, and in need of attention, which their parents may not be able to give at this time.

- Let your own sense of helplessness keep you from reaching out to a bereaved parent
- Avoid the hurting parents because you are uncomfortable - being avoided by friends aggravates an already intolerably painful experience
- Say that you know how they feel unless you have lost a child
- Tell them what they should feel or do
- Change the subject when they mention their deceased child
- Avoid mentioning the child's name out of fear of reminding them of their pain - they haven't forgotten it
- Try to find something positive - a moral lesson, closer family ties - about the child's death
- Point out that they have their other children - they are not interchangeable and cannot replace each other
- Suggest that they should be grateful for their other children. Grief over the loss of a child does not discount a parent's love and appreciate of their other children.
- Make any comment that in any way suggest that the care given to their child was inadequate. Parents are plagued by feelings of doubt and guilt without the help of family and friends.

Source: Information Sheet - "Helping Bereaved Parents" by Focus on the Family

1 comment:

  1. Great things to say, especially how friends and family surrounding the bereaved can be more sensitive to the grieving parents. It's common sense, but sometimes people don't consider what would be really nice for the grieving family.

    Kim Carolan
    Author of Walking through the Valley of the Shadow of Death


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