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Never Make These Statements to a Bereaved Parent

Category: 

Bereavement Relief

Posted On: Jan 19, 2017

Never Make These Statements to a Bereaved Parent

Is there any pain worse than losing a child? Knowing what to say to parents who have gone through this horrible tragedy is almost impossible. It's unbearable even to try to imagine their anguish. Sometimes, to comfort, we say things that do the exact opposite. Please don't think that you have to tiptoe around bereaved parents or, worse, avoid speaking to them entirely. A parent who loses a child needs support, sympathy, and love. These parents need companionship and understanding. You simply have to stop and think before offering words of compassion.

Everything Happens for a Reason

Is it even remotely comforting? It's not. To say this to the parent who just lost a child, you're essentially saying that a beloved child died for a reason. You're saying that to the child's parent. Besides, is it even true? Senseless, cruel things happen all the time. If it's on the tip of your tongue to add the familiar Bible verse, “God works in mysterious ways his wonders to perform,” swallow it back. Avoid quoting platitudes that may or may not soothe the parents at all. It's okay to talk about the unfairness of what happened. It is unfair.

Time Heals All Wounds

This is another favorite cliché to say to the bereaved. Avoid it at all costs, as well. Although this piece of advice is true, it's also relative. Time sometimes takes years or decades to heal a wound. Other wounds never heal completely. That's typically true for parents who lose their child—they never forget. That's all right. They don't need to forget, and they certainly don't need to think about the passage of time right now. On the contrary, they deserve the opportunity to feel their emotions all the way through.

You Have to Let Go

This is an offensive thing to say to grieving parents, and yes, unfortunately, it does happen. Well-meaning family and friends will honestly tell bereaved parents that they're holding onto the memory of their deceased child too hard and they need to let go, move on, and get past it. That does not happen. Few parents ever move on fully after losing a child.

You mean well. You want to show support. Stop and think before you speak. How would you feel in the parents' position? What would make you feel, if not better, then at least comforted?