Do’s and Don’t to Help Bereaved Parents
(Compiled by the families on JP Net)
- Don’t ask “How are you?” It is not a casual conversation opener to us.
Rather, it is a reminder that we are struggling through each day. We will
never be “Fine” in the way you mean it. We may be coping, but we will
never be whole.
- Don’t tell us it will get better with time. Time has a different dimension
for us - a reminder that we may live for a long time without hearing our
child’s voice and feeling their hugs and kisses.
- Don’t give the families pat answers trying to get them to feel better. It
takes years to adjust to this new life.
- Do talk about our child. We love to hear their names mentioned and stories
shared. While our children are no longer physically close, they are forever
in our hearts and forever a part of our family. Not mentioning them does
not diminish our pain, it only adds to it.
- Do call just to say hello, I have been thinking of you. This is a lonely
journey that takes the rest of our lives.
- Don’t tell bereaved parents that you know how they feel - if you are not
one of them, you really don’t know. When we hear that from others who
are not bereaved, it tends to make us feel lonelier.
- Don’t tell us, we look or sound better - and therefore assume that we are
better. The pain is still there - we are just learning to mask it better. In
reality, we are still emotionally fragile. There is no timeframe to our grief
since there our love for our children is endless.
- Don’t say, “You are strong.” We don’t feel that way. We are just coping
as best we can.
- Don’t say “I can’t imagine what you are going through.” We hear this a
lot and though it is a true statement, in reality it is a reminder that you
have your child/children and we don’t.
- Do just continue to show you care. A card, phone call, etc. is much
appreciated long after most people go back to their lives. Our lives have
stopped for us. If you don’t know what to say, just say “I care about you.
I will be here for you.”