What not to say to a bereaved parent. Or what you can say and do to help.

(118 Posts)
thedaymylifestoodstill Thu 06-Mar-14 08:29:57


I thought this would be a good thread to start, to offer practical advice and help to those who are trying to support a bereaved parent, from the words of those who have suffered the loss of a child.

It's also a place where we can say the worst of what's been said to us, so you can understand what not to say.

As a parent of a lost child, I can safely say that the help of others, who step into my pain for a while and figuratively hold my hand, helps me to continue. So if ever this happens to someone you know, you can provide help, assistance and love through it all.

I'll start.

What not to say You can have another
What not to say Maybe next time you'll have a boy
What not to say Think positively
What not to say I've never even had a miscarriage so I've no idea how you feel
What not to say Well at least you've got other children

What you can say I'm here
What you can do Give a hug. Don't offer platitudes.
What you can do Listen
What you can do Take food round
What you can do Say the name of the child

Anyway, it would be good to hear what other wise words other parents may have to offer (apologies if this thread has started before) xx

MadameJosephine Sun 10-Aug-14 23:19:25

Just found this amazing thread and wanted to bump it again. I'm so sorry to hear of all your losses and I wanted to say thank you to everyone who shared their stories and gave such fantastic advice thanks

cathpip Wed 21-May-14 14:57:09

A lasting happy memory in a card would be lovely mamma, a friend of mine wrote one in a letter to me when my dd died, it still makes me smile when I read it. That a hug and an evening meal as apart from getting up I could do little else. My thoughts are with your neighbour. Xx

thedaymylifestoodstill Wed 21-May-14 14:47:05

Bump and also, mamma, how is your friend? x

thedaymylifestoodstill Tue 13-May-14 09:56:39


I'm so sorry to hear about your friend (I still cannot believe how much this happens sad)

Can you give her a call, she may not answer but would appreciate a message left for her - you could say that she doesn't have to answer but you wanted to leave a message to let her know you are thinking of them and the baby. Offer to help out if you are able.

Don't say let me know if you need anything - because I would never call someone up to ask for help when my baby died. Instead say can I look after DC for you one day next week....or I will bring you round some food on x day. (You can also say if she doesn't want to see you, you can leave it on the doorstep for them at a certain time, I was never up for seeing anyone). She can always say no if she doesn't want it, but it is much better than the vague "let me know if you need anything". It shows that you're really thinking of them.

Again I am so sorry for your friend. If there's anything else, please ask. x

Mammabear31 Mon 12-May-14 21:05:27

Have followed this thread for a while. Unfortunately a friend last week lost her baby at 24 weeks...I don't know any detail, just that she is no longer pregnant. I have sent a card saying that we are sorry for their loss, and that we are thinking of them. However I now have no idea what to do or say...she is a friend who I met through work and we see each other every few weeks as we have young boys similar in age. I want to be in contact but don't know what on earth to say?

Mojito100 Mon 12-May-14 15:26:55

Wise words Theday.

thedaymylifestoodstill Mon 12-May-14 13:46:00

Say the childs name every now and again. Talk to the parent about the child (if they're open to it).

Remember the child throughout the year.

Give the parents a hug.

Never tire of listening to them talk about their children. A minute, 5 minutes, 30 minutes of your time is nothing compared to the endless missing that the parents feel for their child.

thedaymylifestoodstill Thu 01-May-14 16:36:51

Bump x

moonmrs Thu 24-Apr-14 08:51:59

That is a lovely idea thank you I will do that. I still haven't written it yet and I'm at work now. She spent a alot of time playing with our 7 month old ds so maybe something along those lines.

frasersmummy Thu 24-Apr-14 08:38:37

HeavenlyE thats a lovely idea ..

HeavenlyE Thu 24-Apr-14 08:29:25

Hello, I would put a message in the card where you write something personal about the little girl - a memory of a time you shared, or something you loved about her personality. Something personal is more touching than the generic 'thinking of you'.

moonmrs Wed 23-Apr-14 20:59:32

Thank you. We are quite close now, we learned that her little girl was ill a year ago, so we've been though some of the journey with her. A hug will most certainly be in order. I will definitely take the card round in person, she isn't home yet and is still at the hospice but will pop round when she is.

frasersmummy Wed 23-Apr-14 19:59:54

I am sorry to hear about your neighbours little girls moonmrs

I would go with something simple but heartfelt like you are in our thoughts and prayers lots of love

I would take it round in person with some food/ drink .. doesn't need to be anything extravagant.. my sister in law turned up with a greggs sandwich and coffee.. having not eaten for a full day I was really grateful

I don't know how close you are to your neighbour.. I was really touched by the people who just came in and opened their arms for a hug

and I completely agree don't get upset and cry.. our bloody minister did ..hubby wanted to say oh for gods sake get a grip man this is what you get paid for !!!

moonmrs Wed 23-Apr-14 19:42:55

I don't know what to write in a sympathy card? I've been looking at it all day and can't come up with anything. Whatever I put will sound silly. I don't mind looking silly but I don't want to offend or be insensitive. Maybe just, 'thinking of you' with our names? Or is that too little?

Greyhound Tue 22-Apr-14 20:58:12

Oh no, I'm so very sad to hear of this little girl.

moonmrs Tue 22-Apr-14 20:18:52

If anyone's still watching, then I'd like to remember my neighbour's little girl on here. She died peacefully in her sleep in the early hours of this morning. May she finally rest in peace. Such a beautiful little girl. thanks

HeavenlyE Sun 20-Apr-14 09:25:28

What to say to help: to always remember and acknowledge that I am a mother of 2 children, even if one of them is no longer here. And to understand that I will always miss him and will not 'get over it' or 'move on'.

confuddledDOTcom Sun 20-Apr-14 08:51:09

Just had someone tell me unless I've lost two I won't understand what she's going through. Was said quite nasty, she was angry that I dared to tell her I'd buried a child.

Greyhound Sat 19-Apr-14 16:07:35

Thanks Mojito and Confuddled. He really was a clueless prat.

confuddledDOTcom Fri 18-Apr-14 21:02:42

Greyhound, my miscarriage was the worst thing that ever happened to me until my daughter died. Don't feel you have to justify yourself. Certainly when it comes to how people react to it you have as much right to be hurt as any of us.

Mojito100 Fri 18-Apr-14 16:03:19

That is terrible greyhound. And completely insensitive.

Greyhound Fri 18-Apr-14 16:00:38

I'm not comparing miscarriage to a later loss, but it did upset me when a friend referred to my losses as "misfires".

confuddledDOTcom Thu 17-Apr-14 17:30:04

Did anyone see the thread I had to get pulled the other day? A whole thread that I could have added here.

LC1's TA up in arms because we never told them about my eldest (who died shortly after birth). Not because my daughter was upset at school, she was discussing family composition with her friend and said "I have a sister who lives in Heaven..." other pupil repeated it to TA, all rather matter of fact.

The replies to the thread were worthy of this one as was the email from MNHQ telling me I was being too sensitive.

thedaymylifestoodstill Thu 17-Apr-14 17:17:14


Also, another thing. Please don't think I'm going to want to make a fuss of your baby. Babies are lovely, I do like them, I still just feel very sad when I'm seeing yours. Please don't think that you have to hide away from me, but just remember that I might want to talk about something else/not make a fuss of baby/or be reminded of the total awkwardness everyone feels when they see me near a baby.

Mojito100 Fri 11-Apr-14 23:56:36

I think regularly bumping this thread is a great idea. So many souls are lost too frequently. We've had a few new tragedies on MN and I am sure there are more out there than we know about. On my side of the world a beautiful 21 year old just passed away having returned from holiday with an illness. There is just too much unnecessary loss in the world.

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