What Not to Say to a Grieving Parent
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- I’m so very sorry.
- My heart breaks for you, and I want you to know I’m here for you. I’ll bring dinner next week.
- Your child was a gift to so many. Then, tell them a story of the impact their child had.
- I think about you every day and can’t imagine how difficult this must be.
- You’re in my prayers every day.
- Keep my phone number handy and call me any time, even if it’s in the middle of the night.
- Or… say nothing and offer a compassionate look, a gentle touch, an open heart, and the gift of letting them talk freely about their child.
If you’re a grieving parent and someone says something wrong, just breathe and know their intention is to help you. Your best response is to just say “thank you.” Allow feelings of love to fill the awkward space. Now is not the time to struggle with relationships, or tell people how wrong they are. Your task in healing is all you can handle right now.
Remember, there really are no adequate words for losing a child… only the gift of compassion and love.
To bereaved parents… I promise you will resurrect your life from your depths of despair. Compassion from others will help even if they say the wrong thing.
Take it day by day, and one day you’ll realize you’ve lived a day without sadness. That awareness changes you. You see hope for the future. Your resilience has carried you, and it will ultimately help you reclaim joy and feel happiness again.
It’s what your child would have wanted. I know that for sure.
In addition to How to Survive the Worst that Can Happen, Sandy Peckinpah has also written Rosey…the Imperfect Angel and Chester the Imperfect All Star. She won The Reader's Favorite Silver Award and the New York Book Festival Honorable Mention Award in 2014. Sandy is also a certified grief recovery specialist with the Grief Recovery Institute, and lives in California with her husband and children.