As Carly states in the information regarding today’s topic, Empathy, here, there are so many articles regarding what not to say to a bereaved parent. Today, we are focusing on what you CAN say to a bereaved parent.
Here are some of my opinions on the matter. One thing you can say to me if you have not lost a child is that you do not understand, but that you are here for me. You can ask me how I am doing and be prepared to listen to my honest response. While you may not have met our daughter, you can share with me a special memory you have of knowing that I was carrying her and what she means to you.
As a little time has passed since Faith went to Heaven, I can reflect enough to say that I am VERY aware that her death affected SO many people besides me and my husband. Keeping this in mind, I need to express that immediately following her death, I was not concerned with, nor did I want to hear how it affected anyone besides myself and my husband. I simply didn’t care at the time. What you CAN say/do is tell the parent(s) that you love them, are there for them, and focus on their grief.
Also, if you have lost a child, please know that while my heart goes out to you, I must express that right after Faith died, I did not care, nor did not want to hear about that either. I am not saying this to be mean. I am simply saying that hearing about your loss (immediately after losing a child) does not help. It is MUCH better to wait for a period of time and then share your story with the bereaved parent(s).
When someone loses a child, the bottom line is this, it is not about you, it is about the parent(s) of the child who has been lost. While the child’s passing certainly may affect you, hold off on expressing this to the parent(s) until some time has passed so the parent(s) can have the time he/she/they need to begin their grieving process first. Tell the parent(s) how important they are to you and that you love and care for them. Just be there and hug them if you aren’t sure what to say. This can help tremendously.
If you keep these things in mind when speaking with a bereaved parent, empathy can truly be felt by the parent(s).