As parents, to imagine the pain and grief that the loss of a child would unleash in our lives is unimaginably torturous. Visualising this pain is understandably avoided as it is so grotesquely cruel.
There is no open discussions, there is little literature, it is a topic which seems to be taboo. But there are ways you can help support a grieving parent.
Yet, parents experience this loss and the ensuing grief frequently.
So many people we know and love are in mourning and because the loss of a child is unspeakable, we as support people, are often overwhelmed with knowing how to support.
8 Ways You Can Help Support A Grieving Parent After Loss
1. Don’t Say…
‘At least you were able to birth another child’, ‘at least you have your other children’… Any sentence that begins with at least is better left unsaid, as it carries with it implications of belittling the importance of this loss.
Will You Try Again
When your friend has had a stillborn baby, this is a child, that was born and has died. This child is not replaced by another pregnancy. Allow them to grieve the life of their child without putting undue pressure on them to move forward.
2. Call Anyway
Death of any human is unimaginably hard and when it is unexplainable it is shocking to all those around. The death of a child is shockingly cruel, torturous and if it is proving difficult for you to process, then just try to imagine how the parents are feeling.
Do not disappear because you are afraid of having nothing helpful to say. Call and say anything. Something is better than a painful silence.
3. Pain Cannot Be Measured
The loss of a child is immeasurable and there is no comfort in what is left behind. Do not comfort them with the years that they were able to spend with their child, or the children that remain.
These are not small comforts, these are not something that can subtract from the pain they feel from the loss of their child. Their pain is hard and true and no subtracting, or addition, will ever be able to change it.
4. Say Their Name
A child was born and a child has died. They have a name that is worthy of speaking. They have memories worthy of remembering. Their name is etched in the hearts of their parents and will never be forgotten.
So speak their name… it tells your friend that you remember and you love and miss their child also.
5. Time Does Not Heal
The pain they feel on the day their child dies will live with them each day after. Grieving for a child will last, until they see them again.
Do not put expectations that they should “be over it” by now. Or that it will get easier. Because this kind of loss never leaves you. You never forget.
Death does not mean they are gone. They live on in the hearts of their parents, family and siblings.
Remember their birthday, their anniversary. Remember that this family will have a child shaped hole in their Christmas, New Year, Easter, Mothers and Fathers day.
Be aware and remember the days that are important.
7. Show Up
Distance isn’t good. Giving some one space is to benefit your uneasiness, not their mourning. You need to show up, be by their side in their darkest hours.
Your presence, presents them with a gift of knowing they have love. It comforts their aching heart, even if you feel that you are useless.
Let them openly grieve and listen. Death may cause you discomfort, their grief may be confronting. But as a friend, and someone who cares, be confronted.
Allow them to release the daily torture that they wake with each day.
This mother shares her story of losing her baby boy.