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The following is a quick list for how to be supportive to someone mourning the loss of a child.  The truth is much of these thoughts can be used in all situations of being a comfort to others suffering through loss.

Ways to Comfort a Mourning Parent

Comforting parents after the death of a child can be challenging, but the skills necessary to help a bereaved parent can be within our abilities to care and reach out.  The skills include:
  • Acknowledging the family’s loss, their pain and your  sadness about the loss
  • Allowing parents to express themselves without judging them or giving unsolicited advice or suggestions
  • Allowing the parents to cry
  • Allowing yourself to cry
  • Not feeling awkward and speaking when a silence occurs
  • Just being present
  • Saying the name of the child in conversation
  • Avoid using clichés such as “I know how you feel.”  “At least you know they are in a better place.”  Or  “You’re young.  You can always have other children.”
  • Being interested in their stories about the child and their loss
  • Avoiding trying to explain why the loss took place
  • Sharing your fond memories of the child
  • Asking to see pictures of the child
  • Extending gestures of concern
  • Remembering anniversaries and special days  by contacting the parents
  • Including the surviving children in your conversations and in your care for the family
  • Donating a memorial in honor of the child
  • Doing something special for the family without asking or without being asked
  • Respecting the grieving styles and needs of the parents
  • Keep in mind that the parents may not be able to ask for help or be able to tell you just what they need.
  • Giving them time and emotional space to heal.  Be patient.

Written by Larry M. Barber, LPC-S, CT author of the grief survival guide “Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope and Promise” available online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and http://grief-works.org/book.php . Also available for Kindle and Nook. Larry is the director of GriefWorks, a free grief support program for children and their families in Dallas TX http://grief-works.org.