Five Practical Ways to Support a Grieving Parent

It’s oh, so hard to know what to do when you are watching a heart break.

You want to reach out and make it better, make the pain go away, make a difference.  But it seems like nothing you can do will matter much in the face of such a huge loss.

While it’s true that you cannot “fix”  the brokenness in a bereaved parent’s life, there are some very important and practical ways you can support them in their grief-especially as the weeks turn into months and then to years.

a little consideration eeyore

Here are five practical ways to support grieving parents:

  • Remember anniversaries and birthdays.  Take note of the date our child left this life, his or her birthday, the day of the funeral-trust me, you aren’t reminding us of anything-we cannot forget!  When someone else shares that they remember too it is so, so encouraging.  It means my child is not forgotten, that he still matters to another heart and that someone else recognizes that the world lost a treasure.

every day

  • Keep showing up.  Keep inviting me to lunch.  I may have turned you down a dozen times in the first few months, but that was because I just. couldn’t. do. it.  As my heart begins to comprehend my loss, compassionate companionship sounds more inviting.  I need to talk, but it may take me awhile before I am able to do it.  Please don’t give up-keep trying.

good friends

  • Text. message and send notes.  I won’t always answer them, but a word at just the right moment may be what I cling to for days in the stormy sea of grief.  If you don’t know what to write, use google to find quotes on grief and copy them out.  A word of caution: don’t send articles on “how to grieve” or offer advice on “how to get over the loss of a loved one”.  (Blogs, books, pages written by bereaved parents for bereaved parents are generally a safe choice.)

compassion greatest form of love

  • Share a memory or photo.  One of the most painful parts of missing a child is that there are no new memories.  But there are “new” memories out there-held in the hearts of others who knew my son.  Times they shared that I know nothing about and that give me a precious piece of him to hold close.  Share a photo if you can. Post it to my Facebook timeline, send it in a text or message so that I can save it. Even better, print it out and send me a hard copy.  These are treasures for a grieving parent.

carry your heart with me in my heart cummings

  • Listen and affirm.  I know my child’s death is “old news”.  Years have passed now and it may seem like something I shouldn’t talk about anymore.  But it is an ongoing event for me.  Every day I am dealing with another aspect of how his absence impacts my life and the lives of my family.  I need to share that.  If I keep it bottled up, I’ll explode.  I’m not sharing on social media because I want to be pitied.  I’m sharing because my son is still part of my life just like your living children are part of yours. So please don’t ignore me and hope I’ll “get over it” if you do.  Acknowledge posts, comment on stories shared and affirm that my child matters.

band-aid-and-heart

You may be surprised how often I get discouraged and feel alone.  

An outstretched hand at just the moment when my strength is fading makes all the difference.

helping-hands

 

Author: Melanie

I am a shepherd, wife and mother of four amazing children, three that walk the earth with me and one who lives with Jesus. This is a record of my grief journey and a look into the life I didn't choose. If you are interested in joining a community of bereaved parents leaning on the promises of God in Christ, please like the public Facebook page, "Heartache and Hope: Life After Losing a Child" and join the conversation.

10 thoughts on “Five Practical Ways to Support a Grieving Parent”

  1. This is helpful. My husband and I were first medical responders (off duty) to an 18 month old found in a swimming pool. We did CPR until EMS arrived. It was horrible. The infant died. You are so fearful of saying or doing “wrong” thing for parents so you say or do nothing…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know a number of parents who have been very, very grateful that the first responders there at their child’s passing were compassionate as well as professional. You have a unique opportunity to simply offer a hand on the shoulder and an understanding glance that acknowledges that it IS horrible. Thank you for your service to your community. Thank you that many times your presence means a parent will be spared the most awful thing that can happen. May the Lord bless you and guard your heart as you serve others with your time and talents.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh just to clarify, we are/were in health care and know CPR and happened to be nearby when this tragedy occurred. But we are not in EMS. This experience made us realize we could never do EMS. We have a much higher level of respect for EMS workers now. Sometimes they must work in chaotic and disturbing situations, and I would not be capable of this. Thank God some are called to this work.

        Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s