Endings are like beginnings; they are natural seasons of life. Sometimes, something goes wrong and life ends sooner than expected. Through illness or injury, people inevitably pass away – even children.
No matter how long a child lives with, or suffers from illness, his or her life is unique. It is worth celebrating even when death comes too soon. Unfortunately, many adults – especially the parents – find it hard to cope with their sorrow and sadness. They may isolate themselves from other people and even from each other.
How to Help Parents Deal With Their Loss
When a child dies, you may have the urge to offer support to loved ones, even though you are grappling with your own feelings of grief and loss. How can you help them in this difficult time and deal with your own emotions too? How can you celebrate a beloved child’s life when there is so much pain and sorrow? Here are a few ideas:
Sometimes, the best thing you can do is listen. Allow your friends to express their sorrow, and offer a shoulder to cry on. You give your friends a special gift when you listen to them without judging them or trying to soothe their pain.
Say the child’s name out loud. Grieving parents like to hear people speak their child’s name. It’s comforting for them to know that you remember and miss their child.
Let your friends know through words or actions that you support them. Offer to help them during this difficult time. Don’t be afraid to say or do the wrong thing. Just be there for your friends.
Grief lasts as long as it needs to. People often revisit their losses over time, and each remembrance brings grief. Be patient.
Share stories about the child, but let your friends guide you. For example, when you feel like sharing a memory, ask the parents if they want you to share it now or later.
Don’t advise your friends to do something they may not be ready to do. Stay away from the “should” word. Don’t tell them they should do this or that.
Sometimes, you have nothing to say. Embrace the silence and just “be.” The ability to be quiet with your friends can comfort them when they’re grieving the loss of their child.
What To Remember
The world can return to the routine of life quickly, at a much faster pace than grieving parents can adjust to the death of their child. It’s important for your friends to have the support of people who know and love them. You can be part of their support system.