Family Magazine

What Not To Say To A Grieving Mother (Or Parents)

By Monicasmommusings @mom2natkatcj

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Okay folks, I’m going to let you have the real truth here about grieving parents.  Pull up a chair and listen closely.  Because there are a few things that we just do not want to hear from you.  Honestly, there’s really only one thing you should say when you find out someone has lost a child and then just don’t go on with anything else.  I know how hard it is to not try to give more reassuring or comforting words to a parent who just lost a child or a pregnancy or a baby than a heartfelt I’m sorry, but there’s really nothing more that you can say that will make it all better.  That’s going to take time, patience, and a whole lot of understanding.

We all grieve differently, but I can assure you no one wants to hear the things on this list after they have suffered the most tragic kind of loss anyone can live through.  I am begging you, of all of the things you read today and on this blog please really take the time to read and understand this if you haven’t experienced the loss of a child.  And those who have please do add your input on this as well.

I’m not gonna lie either, I was guilty of these things back in the day before experiencing my own loss.  I didn’t know any better.  Now I know and I want you to know, but what I don’t want is for anyone to have to know what I felt just to understand that your well intentioned words might be doing more harm than good.  Grieving parents might seem strong on the outside, but on the inside they are very broken and therefore they do need to be handled with care.   So without further ado…

Ten Things Not To Say To A Grieving Parent

  1. It was probably for the best.  No matter how true this may be.  Whether it was a young teenage couple out of wedlock, or an oops I didn’t know I was pregnant and I can’t afford another child, or even a child who suffered through a long battle with Cancer.  I assure you, the parent has probably already tried to justify things in this way, but it does not help the hurt.  Because the fact of the matter is no matter how young, how unprepared, or how much of a blessing it might have been to not have a child suffering anymore it still sucks and it was still a child that we all had hopes and dreams for that were cut short.  So saying it was for the best doesn’t make it any less tragic.
  2. I almost had a miscarriage, I know exactly how you feel.  Ummm, no no you really have no clue what it feels like to never see your child or hold her in your arms.  Sorry that you had a scare like that, but it is absolutely nothing like physically losing your child.  So you have no idea what it feels like.
  3. I lost my mom, grandma, aunt, uncle (insert any loved one that is not your own child) too, I know it hurts.  Again, along the same lines as number 2 while it’s tragic, it just does not compare.  I’m sorry for your loss, but comparing the loss of your parent to the loss of a child just doesn’t make us bosom buddies.
  4. You’re young, you can have more.  Yup, I may be completely capable of having more children, but then again I may not be able to.  But even if I can, my child is not replaceable.  And going on to have more children does not heal what was lost.
  5. I’m sorry for your loss, but I am pregnant so please don’t share your story in front of me.  Well, I’m sorry you’re such a self centered human being that you can’t listen to someone’s grief without making it all about you.
  6. At least it happened now before you really got to know your child.  No matter what a woman’s situation is, if she loses a baby immediately after finding out she’s pregnant, half way through the pregnancy, right at birth, shortly after, or even years down the road this is most likely a child that there were hopes and dreams laid out for the moment of conception.  It doesn’t matter if it’s 6 weeks into pregnancy or 6 years into life, it’s a life lost and a life whose mother began dreaming about.  It hurts no matter what.
  7. It has been a year, it’s time to move on.  Or I know someone who experienced the same kind of loss and she’s already back to work.  It can be fifty years and I will still talk about my angel.  So don’t tell me I need to move on.  You have a piece of your heart ripped out of you and then tell me how you’re moving on.  Everyone grieves differently.  So comparisons are not needed, love and compassion are needed.
  8. Who’s that?  If you are talking to your close family member who has experienced a loss and she mentions her child by name, remember her.  Don’t ask who she’s talking about.
  9. When are you going to try again?  Or any variation of that question.  Aside from it being really none of your business you’re making a lot of assumptions that trying again is even an option.  And you don’t want to be responsible for bringing up all of those bad feelings.
  10. Well, at least you got to hold your baby.  Times have changed over the years and hospitals now give you the option of holding a stillborn.  And while yes it’s healing being told that that’s why you should look on the bright side immediately after a loss because you didn’t get that opportunity is not at all reassuring.  And now you have just made the person feel even worse because they know you didn’t get to hold your baby.  Just not helpful.

So it’s really simple what you should do when you find out someone loses a child and for years to come.  Because lets face it, that person’s life is forever changed after losing a child.  Simply say I’m sorry for your loss.  That’s it.  Stop there, you don’t have to go any further.  If you feel you must though, then just offer help in whatever way they may need.  Don’t dare try to rationalize anything with them.  Give them time.  And never tell them they aren’t grieving right unless you are professionally trained to tell these things.  And if that’s the case, then you would know not to say any of the above anyways.

But if this is a close friend or family your job doesn’t end in that moment immediately following the loss.  It will mean the world to the loss parent if you do something to remember the child that was lost on her still-birthday.  Calling up and asking how everyone’s doing.  Offering to go to the grave with her.  Say her name though, just show that you remember her as a part of the family just like every other child.  I promise you that you are not bringing up any bad feelings because she’s probably already thinking about it and wishing she had someone to talk to about her.

Loss moms desperately want their babies to be remembered.  We’re not looking to be morbid or to be a downer on the living.  We just want our babies to live on and talking about her keeps her with us.  And it makes us smile.  If you love me, then you love my children and that includes the one that had to leave us sooner than we would have liked.

Loss parents, have you ever had any of the things above said to you?  What other things were said to you that you wish weren’t?

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