When a parent loses a child, the pain is unspeakable, its devasting and many friends and family members of grieving parents are unable to identify or give emotional support because in our minds its the worst thing that could possibly happen to our family member/friend. We never think our loved ones would ever experience that type of pain. I have been asked many times “How do I console them? How support my family member/friend navigate to their New Normal.
The Less said the Better
In our culture, everyone wants to talk, its the way we communicate we say things like “communication is key” but sometimes especially in traumatic situations such as losing a child– it is not. In circumstances such as this, the less said the better. When searching for words to say to provide comfort in these circumstances it can be as though you’re trying to find words to make this situation make sense and honestly, there is no way you can make losing a child make sense to a grieving parent. Your presence is enough, trust me, the fact that you are there with them, holding their hand, holding them as they cry is all they need. Nothing more, nothing less. All you need to say is, “I am here”.
In addition, to this theme of the less said the better, don’t attempt to aid the logic of “at least you have other children”. Although it is a fact, it doesn’t negate the preciousness of that one they have lost. Parents who are grieving love all of their children but each one is unique in their own way, and losing one but having two more doesn’t ease the pain, it actually adds to it. Having to explain to their siblings that their brother or sister will not be coming home; is hard to explain and endure. As parents we have to console our grieving children as well and help them understand that their brother/sister will not be coming home…ever. Please take your words into account, losing a child is not normal for any parent, for us tour lives have been flipped upside down so be kind and remove the need to be rational or logical.
Kill the Comparison Game
Comparison is common yet, joy killing and deceitful, especially in the arena of grief. I have witnessed and had conversations with people who say things like, its been 8 years he/she should be over it by now. In moments such as this I would to step in and very firmly yet lovingly explain to people that you never get over losing your child, the parent simply accepts and assimilate; and grieving the loss of a child is different for each individual. People process pain differently and where one person may press through their pain and work towards the healing process others get stuck because the pain is monumental and difficult to process through without the proper help or guidance.
Let me be clear, I may have pressed through my pain but I still have the scar. I will always carry the scar may you see me smiling and laughing, but there is never a day that goes by where I don’t think about Amyia.
Instead of comparing… encourage. Encourage your loved one with words of empowerment, even though they may not believe it or see it. Plant the seeds of faith and hope in their hearts and mind. Encourage them by providing them with information for a local counselor, coach or small group, where they can gather with other parents who are enduring the same pain.
For any parent who has just lost their child they need the space to process their pain and their new normal. Please remember that a traumatic event has just taken place in the parents life, so right now they could be in a state of shock. The parent will need a place and space in order to grasp the idea that their child is no longer here and that they have to plan a funeral and accept visitors and guests and phone calls and this is not an easy thing to do. So make room. Help them by welcoming the family members, setting up the food, caring for their other children, cleaning the house whatever it may be. Give them the space and the place to process. Be mindful, that after the funeral everyone goes back to their life, which leaves the parent in state of processing the next steps of their lives.
Take meals to the family, even after the funeral to help the family adapt to their New Normal. Remember, the family life begins after the funeral, when everyone has left and they are there alone to figure everything out.
It may also mean, taking a step back. Some people really do need you to “make room”, you will need to understand and respect that your family member or friend may need a lot space. Many people need to back away from the crowds and shut the curtains in order to begin the grieving process. So if they don’t answer the phone like they use or retreat for a while, love them through it.
If you have never put this title into practice here is your big chance, this is your moment to get out of the way and love your family member or friend unconditionally.
Let’s dive into the definition of :unconditional love” for a reference point.
Un-conditional: not limited by conditions; absolute
Love: Profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person. A feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend.
In this life we have moments where life happens and it is beyond our control and unfortunately there is really no effective manual or step by step practical guide that help people move through the grieving process efficiently or effectively. In a culture of numerous opinions and microwave healing, parents like us need unconditional love. Our lives have been turned upside down and life no longer looks the same, yet the day continues to turn into night and we are left wondering, how to begin to piece it all together.
With all of that said we just need your unconditional love, a tender heart that holds us up because we cannot stand, a gentle spirit that will pray for us when we can longer gather the words to pray to our Lord and Savior. We need kindness and gentleness in this most traumatic stage of our lives.
I want to encourage you to leave a comment, to begin the discussion on how we can love and encourage grieving parents. Feel free to write about how to consoled your loved one? Or if you’re a parent who has lost a child, how you needed people to console you.