What not to say to a bereaved parent. Or what you can say and do to help.(125 Posts)
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.
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
Theday - what a brilliant thread and your thoughts are perfect and hit the nail on the head.
My thoughts are:
what to say I'm sorry for your loss (no matter how much time has passed)
There will be so much more to come I'm sure.
what not to say maybe it wasn't meant to be
what to do bring favourite food!
The worst said to me after dd1 died were:
"I know how you feel, my dog died last month."
and then by someone else 6 months after her death "You are not STILL upset about that are you?"
The most helpful people said very little. They didn't try too hard, but were just there to listen to me. Don't shy away from speaking her name. I loved saying her name and talking about her.
You certainly find out who your real friends are and who you can rely on.
I must comment
I don't have children I had a mc in past and was devastated but to me my dog is ny child. And to me when she passes I know I'll be heartbroken.
It .at hAve been the person's way of coping with such awful news.
I've been in the situation that delt with loss of child , all I could do was look after the other baby as his twin died I'll admit I didn't know what to say to the family and told them that .
Oh my, where to even start.
I have had so many awful, awful things said to me. These are the things that have pissed me off the most.
'You are young enough to have more'
'He was obviously too special for this world'
'He is in a better place now'
'If my child died I would......' (this really pisses me off because the other person always says something knobbish to insinuate they would be more devestated than you are)
Then there are the people who go on and on to everyone about how upset they are, and weirdly you end up comforting them.
People who plaster all over facebook about 'my special little angel' - No, just fuck off, he is my son, not yours.
The people who avoid me.
The people who look shifty and uncomfortable when I say my sons name.
The wanker who said 'I never understand when people go on and on about things like this for years' when I was upset on the anniversary of my sons death.
People who say 'well at least he is up there with granny/auntie/whoever now'
People who think the fact I have other children takes the pain away.
People who ask if my dc look like my 'dead son'.
People who don't say his name.
People who say his name in a hushed tone, like it's a dirty word.
The best thing ever is people who ask questions, if they see his picture they ask what he was like, how much he weighed, how my labour was, about his hair, what funny things he did, and general memories as they would with any other child, only asking about my son means more to me because I will never have new memories with him so I need to treasure the ones I have.
There is a wonderful resource on this subject from an organisation called Care For The Family. It's title is "How you can support bereaved parents" and it has two sides of A4 things to do and things not to do.
The website is careforthefamily.org.uk/bps and the resource sheet is linked from there.
When our little girl died a kind and well informed friend passed copies to lots of people we knew who wanted to help but didn't know how best to do that. Sharing that resource sheet saved us from much of the ineptitude that surrounds parental bereavement.
I cannot recommend it highly enough, and would love to see it linked to as a mumsnet resource somehow, because posters so often ask how they should best help.
Oh, and the worst comment...
"Well you've got a nice little replacement there haven't you?"
From our unforgettable encounter with Bounty lady in hospital where dd2 was born a few weeks after dd1 died.
"I know how it must feel to lose a child now." From a former friend after her dog disappeared.
Here's a test... Do people cross the road to avoid talking to you after your dog died? No. Because it happens a lot and people deal with it. It's not the same, and people should really stop saying it. Telling someone your beloved dog died is a very sad thing. Telling someone your four year old daughter died is like chucking a bomb in the conversation. It's not the same, and you don't know how it feels or how you would be unless it has happened to you.
I have had beloved pets die, and I know that what I felt then is less than the faintest of faint echoes of what a bereaved parent feels. So I wouldn't say 'I know how you feel', but I would use the memory of that sadness to try to imagine a bit of how the bereaved parent was feeling - in the same way that I try to empathise with my mum, whose spine is collapsing, causing her to be in constant pain. I don't tell her I have had back ache so I know how she is feeling - but I remember the back ache, and try to imagine what it must be like to have that, magnified a thousand times, and constant.
I forgot to mention a what not to do:
Don't give someone a book titled "The Art of Happiness " by the Dalai Lama a week after their child has passed away.
Marking my place to watch with interest. I posted a thread recently about how I could help someone who is about to lose a child, so this will be very helpful for me, thank you op and all posters who have sadly lost a child.
You do not expect your pet to live for 20+ years, you do expect your child to, that's why losing your pet is not comparable to losing your child.
Your early miscarriage is also not the same as losing your child.
And my child did not die because God needed her more. She died because she had cancer.
Dead children do not become angels, they become dead children.
My child is not 'always with me'. No one knows where she is for sure, because she is dead.
She wouldn't want you to be sad. This is a comment often levelled at us because others are uncomfortable with our grief. No one knows how my daughter would want me to be, because she is dead.
And please, no corny poems like 'Do Not Stand At My Grave'. Or ones about my dead daughter living in my heart. She doesn't live at all anymore, she is dead.
No memes or lectures about how I am making myself miserable by grief, do you really believe anyone would WANT to feel aggrieved?
I think that's the thing. It's the empathy. A dog is not a child, a child is not a dog. But you can, as SDT said, imagine a bit.
Jesy, just offering your practical help and telling the parents you didn't know what to say was and is way better than platitudes, IMO.
Mojito, did they really? The art of happiness? Seriously?
I get very angry when people say that there was a guardian angel watching over their child, and their child pulled through. Or that healing vibes helped their child pull through. Unfortunately, when you're on the other side of the coin you know that no amount of healing vibes, loving thoughts or whatever will pull your child through from a serious illness. It's not luck, it's not fate, it's the crappy reality of life and the unfairness of it. But when people say the above, it implies that my child wasn't as good as their child to live. And it hurts. And it's usually people whose children have pulled through who say it.
In fairness to them, I think they say it because that's all they've got in that situation and they want to be able to make something out of it, to be able to rationalise. But my, it hurts.
Someone said to me when I was beside myself "I know, my daughter had a miscarriage at 3 months". I've had two miscarriages, they are sad in a different way and in no way the same as holding your infant as they die in your arms. Really, it's not.
Zeno, I'm going to look for that information - it sounds incredibly useful.
Is it OK to say "there will always be an X shaped hole in your family but you will come through this and I'll hold your hand every step of the way"?
I think telling people they are 'so strong' is not really on either. I think that people who are bereaved have no choice about being 'strong'. There is nothing else left to be, especially if you have other children to look after.
I hate being told,'You will come through this,' because it implies my grief over losing my daughter is finite. I will be going through this until I die. It changes with time, but the person who loses her child is NEVER the same again.
There is not an Aillidh-shaped hole on our hearts, there is a bomb blast and the ruins are left ticking.
So very sad for everyone on this thread. Thank you for sharing what helps and what most definitely does not.
It's disturbing how many people have such a problem with other people's grief and anger and other complex feelings and try to jolly them along or tell them to focus on the positives. How crass and insensitive!
'I think that people who are bereaved have no choice about being 'strong''
I didn't understand this either after a dear colleague lost her full term baby -'oh she's so strong, so brave'. What was she supposed to do - crumble and turn to dust? She had no choice but just to bear the pain and it was heart breaking watching her.
Theas18 - I'm not sure if I got what you meant but I would go with what you have written except leave out the part "but you will come through this". I'm not sure it is something to come or go through .... It is something that we live with and changes you indelibly forever. Even after 5 years I am not through it and don't think I ever will be.
Theday - yes they seriously did give me that book! I was flummoxed to say the least and it went straight in the bin.
Theas, you know I think it's really important to acknowledge the loss of the child, so saying there will always be an X shaped hole is not a bad thing, however, in the early days I used to get angry at people telling me I'd get through it, because I couldn't see how I was going to get through the hour, let alone my life without my child. So in my personal opinion, leave out the "you'll come through this" but say "I'll hold your hand…." and reassure them you will be there and be there whenever you can.
What you can do Call and even if they don't answer leave a message. Keep calling when you can, even if they don't reply. Just them knowing that you are thinking of them means a lot. At some stage they even may need you, so they may well answer one of the phone calls.
What you can do If it's really really hard to be around the person (and we all know that some people avoid bereaved persons like the plague) just send a text. Say 'I'm thinking of you'. Send a text every now and again. It only takes two seconds and means the world.
She is in a better place. Oh, yeah? She thought the best place was at home with her family.
At least she is not in pain anymore. Se should never have been in pain at all.
When people have said to me "you're so strong" it means nothing.
I have no choice but to get up everyday. I have other DC.
Inside I am not strong. Saying I am strong makes me feel like I have to put on a front so others don't get upset about me.
Inside I am a mess. People don't know how I'm really feeling. I could sit and tell them and they'd still not get it. I wouldn't want them to in a way. I wouldn't want to spoil their illusions of grief and how you can put 'closure' on a human being.
I also get a lot of "I hope you are feeling better". I have not had a cold. My child died. I will not be better. I will never feel better about my child dying. PLease don't say that. I understand they are hoping I am feeling better, but no, I'm not. Then when I tell you I'm not, you look at me as if to say "really?"
Expat, I agree - there is no better place than with their loving family.
Someone said to me "well you wouldn't want them to suffer".
I wouldn't want ANYONE to suffer, but that doesn't mean I want them to die.
Or the greatest, greatest insult I find. "If they had lived, they might have had long term problems". That comment makes my brain hurt. I would rather have my child here, with whatever, loving my child. I do not know what they may/may not have. I cannot answer that because I do not have a magic crystal ball which tells me how their life would have panned out, should they have lived.
What they could say I wish X was here too. And talk about the child (if the parent is willing).
Another thing to do is make a note in your diary so that as the years pass you can write/ring/text to say you are thinking of them. Time passes too quickly and just always having them remembered by others is significant.
This is useful. My brother died ages back (I was a teen at the time) and I know my mother loved people talking about him, like he hadn't just disappeared or was something dirty to be hidden.
Our baby dd1 died suddenly in 1976 whilst we were staying with my parents for Christmas in London.
As DH was studying at uni 100 miles away we returned home to uni 3 weeks later.
A further 3 weeks later my HV turned up unannounced. In those days I knew that the paperwork would take time to filter through so I carefully asked if she knew about dd1 death?
"Oh that's why you have't been to baby clinic then"....and this was from a health professional! Somehow I showed her out and refused to speak to her again.
similar to the daymylifestoodstill one of the worst comments I've had was being told that I'd made such a brave decision as 'you wouldn't have wanted your child to be disabled would you?' How I didn't hit the woman I have no idea. Same woman also sent me a very thoughtful message at Christmas, inside a card with the virgin Mary & baby Jesus on the front - you couldn't make her up!
I hate being told I'm strong, I'm not, I'm dying on the inside everyday, I'm acting, that's all, not strong.
The other thing I hated was 'if you need anything just ask'. I can't ask, I can't process anything, can you bring my baby back, because that's the only thing I want? However the 'I'm going to make you a coffee, do you want sugar, or I'm cooking pasta, I'll serve you some' was fine. I realised after a while I just couldn't process decisions I needed to be told what to do for a few weeks.
Spacefrog I agree, don't say "just ask". Just do. Seriously. People would say it to me, or put it in a card and I do think they genuinely meant it.
However, I wasn't going to phone them up and say "I cannot cook for my family, can you make something vaguely nutritious for them please?" as a) I couldn't hold it together to call someone b) I still had a teeny tiny bit of stupid decorum, where I it wouldn't be polite to ask someone for help
I wasn't going to say "could you mow my lawn please?" or "could you do a load of laundry for me" or "could you clean my bath". I was too embarrassed. Even after having major surgery, losing my child, grieving and trying to look after other DC.
The awful thing is, is that even in the most dire of circumstances, cleaning still needs to be done, food shopping to be brought, gardens to be mown, laundry to be done. When you can barely get out of the bed and take a shower, someone popping in for half and hour, making you a cup of tea, doing a chore and then leaving (because you might not want to talk) means A LOT.
Oh, here's one though that is really important.
DO NOT IGNORE THE PERSON AND NEVER CONTACT THEM AFTER THEY"VE LOST THEIR CHILD
Strange, that happens a lot too.
I don't understand it. A close relative on DH's side, whose DC are similar to mine and who was round my house several times last year when I was pregnant, our DC's played together and with whom I used to see fairly regularly did not even send a card after my child died. Nor have they text. It has been over six months.
Can I ask what would be a good thing to say? Very sadly, one of the boys in my son's class died last week 18 months after being diagnosed with cancer. The family had moved away for treatment but have come back to the area now. I haven't seen his mother yet and when I do I want to say the right thing. When her son was sick, it looked like coming into the playground to pick up her other children was absolute agony for her. People obviously wanted to show they were thinking of her and her lovely boy, but it always looked like speaking about the situation was just tortuous for her. She seemed desperate to avoid everyone.
Oh Neolara, how awfully sad. How old was her DS?
I lost my DC as a baby, so it is a slightly different situation, but from personal experience, the school run is torture. I would perhaps go up to her and speak to her. I just needed to know there was a friendly face in the playground I could stand next to, even if I didn't want to talk. Waiting for my DC to come out whilst feeling like I want to cry/run/feel so alone/feel like no one else knows how I feel is soul destroying.
Mention her son by name, buy a card, if she's got other DC's perhaps get them a little something (nothing expensive, a packet of sweets, stickers anything). Just let her know that you're there.
I don't know if anyone else has any advice?
don't say better luck next time
don't cross the street when you see me, I am capable of conversation
please don't never ever mention my baby - I loved him, and it feels like i'm the only one who cares sometimes as no-one talks about him with me.
do what one of my friends did. She sent me a text on the anniversary of his birth/death (same day) to let me know she was thinking of me. It means a lot.
' I thought you'd be feeling better not worse " 3 weeks after a child has died. Yes I had that little gem said to me.
This thread is making me ask myself, yet again, just what the hell is wrong with some people? Insensitivity just doesn't even cover it
So sad for those of you who haven't been allowed to grieve by other people and their lack of empathy
What you can do- speak their name. Dont hide theit existence.
What not to do- stop them from talking about them
I love this thread!
My brother told me that my loss wasn't as bad as his partner's - my baby was born alive at 20 weeks and died after three hours, her baby had died from SIDS at 6 weeks. My grandma got cross about those kind of comments as her daughter died at 40 and she said it doesn't matter when you lose them they're still your precious baby. I had to go through labour knowing my baby was probably already dead and that something was wrong with her (the scan only showed a head but it was because she was already part born). I then had to hold her for three hours whilst she died. I might not have spent six weeks caring for her but those 5 hours were the most agonising moments of my life.
People do seem to think I should just get over it. My eldest who is 10 months younger loves her sister and doesn't let us forget her.
I hate comments about sex when I'm pregnant, when I'd had two LC girls comments about having a boy to balance it or whatever. I get cross about the comments "as long as it's healthy" when people ask someone what they want especially (as I've seen on MN) when someone says "think of the people who've lost their baby" um... no!
People who won't talk about their children or try to hide their children from me like I'm going to get upset because another human being exists. Although I did get cross when I was still in the early days and staying with my parents when my niece who was five days older was dumped on me and I was expected to look after her. It got back to my brother than I had got very stressed when she weed during a nappy change and ended up covered and he was really angry with me!
Hospital staff make ridiculous comments!
Best things to say/ do are not to try to be clever, that's what most of those are. Understand you don't know and won't know and just try to be there for them and you shouldn't go wrong. When people say something daft to me from a good place I usually let it go because I see the heart of it, it's when they're trying to say something so that they said something that I get upset.
Oh and "I didn't want to make you feel worse"
Don't say These things are sent to try us. I couldn't actually answer that one, just stood there with my jaw dropping.
Don't say It's time to get back to normal now. Thanks for that mum.
Just be there ...... even if it seems that they are pushing you away understand that they are trying their hardest to get through each day at a time.
Oh and I'm allowed to say that my diagnosis is something good that came out of my daughter's death but don't try to console me with it!
I'm utterly speechless at some of these comments. I can't believe how bloody insensitive some people are
Thank you everyone who has posted. It's really helped.
The worst thing anyone can say is...
That really hurt. I could forgive people saying stupid or crass things, at least they were trying. BIL & SIL said nothing, like their DN never existed.
My BIL set his wedding date for the day before my (deceased) DD1 birthday - "to make it a happier time of year for everyone" - thanks BIL for your tactlessness - no it won't make it a happier time of year for us.
I'm a bit shit at saying the right thing tbh not because I am horrible but because I didn't grow up in a touchy feely household. However, I have learnt and reading stuff like this really helps so thank you as it must be quite hard for you to do so thank you.
I know it's hard to know what to say. I think it's just a case of saying something, and not saying something really stupid
Don't: Write me a long letter telling me how I feel
Don't: Ignore me/Cross the road to avoid me
Don't: Say everything happens for a reason
Do: Keep ringing, keep texting, again and again, even when I can't answer. When I can, I know you aren't afraid to talk to me.
What not to say:
"You have to trust that it wasn't God's plan"
you barely know me, how dare you assume I believe in God's plan
Yep cheers next door neighbours, I see you linger in your car when we pull in at the same time
"My daughter was born early but luckily she pulled through"
"This will make you stronger"
Hm. Not likely.
"Let's book a spa weekend next month to take your mind off things"
I know you mean well but seriously?
"Maybe you should get some antidepressants"
I'm grieving, not sick
"Your scaring us now"
Give. A. Shit
"You have to get through this, the rest of your family need you"
Oh a guilt trip, yep, that'll sort me right out
"Oh darling, that's not like you"
(In response to me saying something negative) And you're surprised?????
Also things not to do:
Flowers: I loved getting these initially but the house soon resembled a branch of interflora, they kept dying and I didn't have enough vases or the energy to be cutting stems etc. Food, a handwritten letter, chocolates were much easier. I know that sounds ungrateful and I don't mean to be, the thought was still appreciated (but the flowers didn't exactly thrive in my care, let's say)
Don't come round and never leave. Please, grief is tiring, stay an hour, be helpful, go home
Please don't take the 'just listen' thing to the extreme. You sitting there in silence waiting for me to spill is just awkward.
Also I second the 'if there's anything I can do, just ask' annoyance. Have been sorely tempted to say, yep, do a supermarket shop, change all the bed sheets, empty the bins, take eldest to school. Oh what's that? You're busy?
Spotted - my daughter has a flower name and I got a lot of those flowers. They're flowers I love but the pollen goes straight to my chest and I struggle to breathe in the same room, the band around the lungs type feeling. They also don't last very long so I had lots of [my daughter's name] dying all the time. My OH buys me a bouquet occasionally for special occasions which isn't so bad as a houseful of them and after 8 years I can handle them dying without bursting into tears.
YY, Chincilla. We get to hear of how your relative, friend's friend, etc. had cancer, 'But thankfully they pulled through.' WTF do you expect me to do, fucking cheer?! My child is dead.
And I get the guilt trip A LOT. 'You have to pull through, we need you/think of your kids.' I don't have to do anything in this life but pay taxes and die, you manipulative twat, and if I weren't thinking of my kids I would have already found a friendly bridge.
God will never give you anything you can't handle? For real?! Then why do children get diseases they can't handle and die?
You should see a doctor and get anti-depressants. Another way of saying they can't stand seeing a person bereaved because of how it makes them feel so fuck off.
When is the old you coming back? Right about the same time my daughter rises from the dead.
Have to second the flowers
I know this will be down to the individual, but I absolutely couldn't bear the flowers. I kept having to answer the door in tears, and the delivery person always thinks that the delivery is going to be a lovely surprise for someone
I know it sounds horribly ungrateful but I used to take them at the front door, march through the house to the back door and hurl them into the garden, it was quite a sight
They were my absolute undoing
Or the fuckwit friend of DH who sent him a curt 'sorry for your loss' the week it happened
And two weeks later 'mate you don't happen to have a drill I could borrow?'
And fucking DH dropped round the fucking drill because he is nice, and it is yet to be fucking returned
This is one my OH did and his friend's response was like the two of them had swapped place.
Standing at cemetary talking after the burial. OH goes up to his friend and says "I'm sorry I didn't get there [he plays D&D games] on Saturday, I hope I'm [meaning his character] not dead" his friend stood there totally and said he didn't think this was really the place to talk about it!
I've told this before, but I had some random woman, I still have no idea how she got my mobile number, rang me a few days after DD1's death to tell me she was sorry she hadn't come to the funeral (I hadn't noticed) but she couldn't bear it as she had a son DD1's age.
Thank you for sharing that. Now fuck off.
Totally agree about the flowers. I had a mc after 7 years of IVF and was absolutely devastated. When a delivery man turned up at the door with flowers from people at work it just felt so wrong.
I was shocked before at some of the comments, but now I've had time to read, I really appreciate what you have shared, re what's helpful. I often struggle with what to say, but now I have a lot more insight, so thank you so much to you all and I am so, so sorry for what you have endured xx
some of these comments are incredible; but thanks for all the suggestions. I have a colleague whose 10 year old daughter died last May. Even little things must be so so painful for her - she asked me how my girls are, and you say "oh fine" (painful), or "DD2 has tonsillitis" (so what, she is alive), "it's half term" (child dead and not at school). I walk away from every conversation kicking myself. We do talk about her daughter sometimes, and how she and her husband are coping (amazingly), but as she says really, at this stage it's all a performance really. I am sorry that so many of you are in a position to give such advice, but terribly grateful for it too
My big one don't - the inane but sigh ally acceptable question of "How ARE you?" Especially by someone who hadn't really bothered (read - scared) to talk to me in the initial few weeks after Mia died. That enraged me on two fronts. Firstly, why would I want to share my innermost feelings with someone who hadn't been on this terrible journey with me. Secondly, did they really want to know??? A few times, I told them. I said how did they expect to be, having watched my daughter die, having no purpose in life, knowing I would never see her little smile again. Unsurprisingly, they stopped asking.
A DO - keep sending texts, emails and messages with offers of help or activities, or just saying you are thinking of me. Even better, when you have a memory or experience which evokes a memory of Mia. I love hearing other people talk about her. It means she existed for others as well as us.
I have received cards saying "I hope you are feeling a bit better…." and "these things take time" "but you have other DC".
Those well meaning, but nevertheless damaging comments send me into a tailspin. A very tearful tailspin. I do now tactfully try and say that I will never be better in this respect. I know the cards are well meaning and I do very much appreciate the gesture, but saying all that and "these things" makes me think what things? What is a thing? A child?
Which is why I am now as tactfully honest as I can be. I know it can be hard to write a card to someone who has lost a child, I know the intention was good, but I have to say, because I think I'm only being honest about how I'm feeling and I also think it is better for the other person to know how I'm feeling too, rather than gloss over it all.
Big big sigh
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
Silly lass, how uncaring people can be. I was sorry to hear of your experiences. You don't choose to have mh issues just like no one chooses to lose a loved one. There are so many caring people in the world yet there appear to be so many who don't know how to respond or even have an awareness of issues others may be facing. It is challenging for all
rhetorician, you're allowed to appreciate, not appreciate, have rough days or whatever with your own children! I have four LC and I have days I despair! I have days I want to strangle them... honestly losing one makes me appreciate them but it doesn't make it easier to be a parent. Your friend probably likes the mundane everydayness of talking about your children or she wouldn't ask. It's when people try to "empathise" based on their own things that upsets people or change the conversation from bereaved Mummy to their moan.
thanks confuddled - I think she wouldn't ask if she didn't want to hear the answer, and I wouldn't dream of just launching into whatever yadda yadda unless she brought the kids up. They live in a small village and I know that they had their daughter's classmates (small class of 10, maybe) round on her birthday, but so so hard for them
theday Thank you for starting this thread, if only to make me realise that some of the things I hear aren't just heard by me alone. My 15 year old son died 12 weeks ago today. I suppose the thing I get asked most is 'you look upset, what's wrong?' ... I don't know how to respond to that. What am I supposed to say? I know a lot of the time it's just a stock phrase, something to say, but it does leave me questioning how long people expect me to grieve. I want to tell them that I'll always be upset, that I'll never stop grieving but I end up mumbling something like 'oh well, you know ...'. A couple of very good friends have said this to me and also my mum! I know they don't mean to be so unfeeling, that they're just concerned about me at that particular time (I.e. Has anything else happened that day to make me more upset ) but it's something I don't need to be asked, nothing can ever be more upsetting than losing your child. Some people, however, simply do not care about our feelings. Because my son committed suicide, they seem to believe he has gone to hell. I want to scream at them that mental health and suicide is not bound by religion, that it can happen to anyone, in any culture and within all religions. But I don't. It just confirms to me how ignorant some people are. I've had a lot of 'time will heal, things will get better, you're being so brave and strong'. It won't heal, it won't get better, I'm not brave or strong. I'm a bereaved mother, I have other children who need me, I'm on autopilot, I'm simply existing. Having said all that, I have beautiful friends. I know they care about us, I know they think of us constantly, even when they can't be here with us. I get several messages each week saying simply 'I'm thinking about you, I'm still here'. And although I know they don't know exactly how we feel, the fact that they call or message means a great deal.
Ok, felt good to say all that and I'm sure that over the coming days I'll remember other things that people have said to us Xx
Louster - I'm sorry for your loss.
A member of my family told my parents that they should be relieved that my sister died as she was a burden.
I've had beloved pets die and had miscarriages. Very sad indeed. Not, however, the same as a child dying.
The pets died because they were old, ill or killed in an accident. I miss them, but not with the relentless agony of losing a child.
Whilst I accept that miscarriage is not the same as losing a baby later on or losing a child, I do bristle a bit when people dismiss miscarriage as being not a real loss.
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
Louster, I'm very sorry for your loss. 12 weeks is so early on the journey. I am 20 months on from the death of DD1, age 9, from cancer and it's no time at all.
You just start tuning out comments like this.
Louster I'm so sorry that your beloved son died. My sister's death was also suicidal. I had to restrain myself from posting a very angry message to a Facebook friend who was pontificating about suicide being a sin. Pompous, stupid arse.
Louster - I am so very sorry to hear of your loss. x.
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
That's awful, Silly. The poor lady must have been hurt by that.
Like a poster said earlier -don't try to be clever. A simple 'im so sorry for your loss' covers the bare bones in an inoffensive fashion.
One thing that I appreciated was cards celebrating my daughter's birth. I felt it was worth celebrating even if she was desperately ill, and it was nice to have normal things for her. I saved her cards and they feel like evidence that she did exist.
A card or text is a really good way to communicate without requiring any coherence from the recipient.
I liked flowers, the nicest were sent a week or so after my baby died and they came with their very own jar, massively thoughtful!
Yes to using the child's name.
Yes to remembering anniversaries.
Please don't be embarrassed if I cry when you mention my baby or ask anything about her. I love that you have spoken about her but I still miss her and catch me at the wrong moment and I will have a furtive little weep.
It's a particular situation in relation to this thread but announcing a pregnancy to someone who has just lost a baby needs to be done carefully. Privately if possible. However it's done it's going to hurt a bit, and it is much better not to be surprised in front of friends or colleagues.
Louster I'm so very sorry about your son. People are, on the whole, terribly ignorant about mental health and suicide.
I am seven years on from losing my sister to it. I have come to feel more forgiving of the idiocy. Sometimes if it's a direct comment to me, I say I'm glad for them, that they are so ignorant of the reality of it, and long may they remain so. Likewise to idiotic remarks about the death of one's child.
You may already know of them, but SOBS, aka Survivors Of Bereavement By Suicide were a great help to us in surviving, as were the Samaritans, who I hadn't realised before are not only there for those feeling suicidal, but for all the people affected by it.
Sending you love.
Also for Louster, Winston's Wish are a charity who support bereaved children and their families. They are amazing, and will reach out to school etc if asked.
Mojito, i was also given a copy of the art of happiness a few weeks after my son died shortly after he was born
didnt really get past the first chaper which is all about looking at tothers that are less fortunate than yourself.....
which i found distrubing as, i felt i was now the person everyone looked at, to make themselves feel better, as in well at least i'm not lizard
another book i was givenwell actually told to buy, buy an nhs obstricain
when i was pg with ds2
was called the secret
its about how if you imagine bad things are going ot happen to you they will
and if you think good things will happen they will
but it never crossed my mind for one mon that i would lose ds1
so i hardly think i cause that to happen by not thinking positivly enough
unhelpful things that have been said to me
life goes on
when the funerals over, you wanna take all them cards down, the sympathy ones
at least he didnt have any hair, wtf???? why doesthat matter
its about moving on
your strong[no im not this is an act, i wake at 3am crying every single night]
be strong, ditto what someone else said fuck off,in other words dont cry as you wlill make me feel bad
in the early days sititng there crying and being asked whats wrong????
wtf do you think is wrong, do i have to spell it out
after having my ds2[i also have a six year old]
oh youve got two now....asif ds1 never exisited
oh you have a happy ending now....
no its not an ending, yes we love ds2 to bits but we still love and feel just as sad about ds1
patronising comments about now you have two, the second has to just fot in....... ffs hes my third
dreading people asking how many children do you have
not wanting ot meet new people
wanting to aviod people
grieving for your child and your oldself and your old life
your whole life chaning forever
one one of the biggest things of all to have pissed me off is a friend, who has a dd same age as mine, used to carshare lifts to get the dds to an activity
and it would invole driving past the church where my ds1 is buried and my dd would say things like thats where my baby brothers buried as they drove by
and this friend actually said to me, oh when your dd mentions ds1, i change the subject as she didnt want her dd to know and be upset
just think how shit that made my dd feel
its her brother, its her life that s been turned upside down, my dds mums and dad and family a mess, and yet you wouuld rather ignore her innocence comment so that your child doesnt become upset for a moment
you selfish fucking prick
family getting pissed off with me that i dont want to go to big family dos
two years on i find people even less understanding to be honest
a pressure to move on and get over it, or at least pretend to so the poor dears dont have to feel uncomfortable
Neolara, your comment about the mum struggling to come to the school really struck a chord with me. I have to take my older son to school whilst being without my younger one who should also be there. It's torture going there every day and I hate it. If she has to go back to the school without her son she's probably going to find it even worse. Assemblies, sports day, nativity, harvest festival etc, all without her son. If I got upset it really helped if someone just gave me a smile or touched my arm, proper cuddles or asking how I was normally sent me over the edge.
Things that shouldn't be said:
It's made me realise how lucky I am (that I still have my child)
I'm going to go and give (my child) a really big hug
You have other children (ok, look at your children and decide which one that you could live without)
Try antidepressants, you will soon feel better
To be fair, those are the only comments I remember that actually upset me, and I think that's pretty good going.
If you say is there anything I can do, actually offer to do something specific. I didnt have the energy or inclination to ask for anything.
Don't sit next to me at assemblies/school plays etc because you think I need someone near me. Think more about the fact that your child is the same age as mine, and I am going to find it really hard watching you watching your child when mine isn't there.
Don't come and talk to me about the school trip that your child is going on, forgetting that mine can't go.
I had 3 sons, then one died, then I had a daughter. The amount of people who have said to me oh how lovely to have a girl finally is ridiculous. I find it really upsetting. There is nothing about this that is lucky.
Things to do:
Try and remember anniversaries and birth dates and mark them. I have received cards and bunches of flowers. I don't like to see anyone on those days but its lovely to know people care.
If I insert my son into the conversation because I want to talk about him as though he is still here, just carry on regardless.
Acknowledge that certain times are hard for me, eg Christmas, and tell me you are thinking of me. Don't go overboard and make me cry.
I basically agree with everything spotted said!
I wonder if mnhq could do something with this thread? Maybe make a guide out of it. different categories for different people?
there was a line ina show I was watching the other day I wanted to put in here and I've forgotten it.
This has been touched on already, but it really grates me when people tell me things like 'time will heal' - the only people I would listen to about how things feel long term are people who have also lost a child.
I think that would be a wonderful idea, confuddled. I think most people are genuinely trying to help, when they say the things they say (I know I would be), and I'm sure the last thing they'd want to do is to make things worse for someone already in the worst situation.
A guide could help people say and do the right things.
heavenly, it's been 8.5 years for me. Time helps, you learn how to deal with the hole and pain but it never goes away. My grandma is dead now and her daughter died 15-16 years before her and I don't thinki ever saw her talk about her without that look in her eye that bereaved mothers get.
You will never hear a bereaved parent say time heals.
When people trot out that twaddle to me I tell them they are right, one day I will die and my pain will be truly healed.
Time doesn't heal it just numbs things on a day-to-day basis. 14 years on, I am not healed.
I really hate the 'what doesn't kill you makes you stronger' because actually no, it fucking doesn't. I feel weaker.
I have three wonderful, marvellous, perfect children. But I should have four. And no, the living three aren't 'all the more precious' because their brother is dead.
Time doesn't heal, it just doesn't. And I don't want it to either. I want to hold onto every bit of my daughter, even the bits that hurt
Just thought of another thing:
Please don't suggest counselling as a one stop fix all, when I say that I don't want to do something or if I bow out of something the 'old' me may have done, or even did after my child died. Just because I'm feeling down and sad and I feel I need to step away from things to protect my health and sanity is not a sign I'm not coping.
Believe me, getting up everyday , dealing with dc, working and looking after a home is coping enough, so if there are times I don't want to pretend and put my mask on, but would rather withdraw for a bit - please respect it.
Counselling does help, but it will never bring the old me back. So don't suggest it like it will. Same with anti-depressants. Nothing wrong with taking them, but it's not going to stop me feeling sad that my child died.
I sometimes think people suggest these things because THEY want you to feel better, iyswim.
I think it is a natural, caring response, when someone sees a person in pain, to want to relieve that pain, or find someone or something else that will relieve that pain - it's an impulse that comes from a good heart.
But it clearly isn't right in this situation - and I think, unless you have been through it yourself, as so many on this thread have, or unless you read something like this, with an open mind, willing to learn (as I think I have), you aren't going to know how wrong an impulse it is.
That's why I have such huge admiration for all those on this thread who have shared their experiences and feelings.
Just bumping this thread so it can be use of those who are trying to support bereaved parents.
I thought I would say, the most important this is to just be there. However you can. By email, text, a message on the phone (sometimes the parents don't want to talk, but a voicemail is appreciated), a pop round with a casserole.
It will be difficult, it will be draining to be around someone who is experiencing this hell, but if you can spare a few minutes - honestly, it really does help. I know it is daunting and if you don't know what to say, say that. I'd rather someone say that then fill me with platitudes which mean nothing. And if you're going to do something and you say to the bereaved parent you are, do it.
Honestly, it is so lonely even when surrounded by people. But if you can reach in and help pull the parents through the fog, it will be greatly appreciated, even if they can't vocalise how they're feeling at that time.
I'm still watching. No experience myself, but soon will be helping out a friend when the sad time comes, has been very interesting reading and will try my hardest to be as much of a help as I can. So sorry to read of everyone's sad experiences, thank you for sharing to allow the rest of us to hopefully be able to be as useful as possible. I can't begin to imagine how devastating it must be.
Bumping this thread up for those who are supporting bereaved parents. Perhaps we could regularly bump this just in case x
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.
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.
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.
I'm not comparing miscarriage to a later loss, but it did upset me when a friend referred to my losses as "misfires".
That is terrible greyhound. And completely insensitive.
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.
Thanks Mojito and Confuddled. He really was a clueless prat.
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.
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'.
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.
Oh no, I'm so very sad to hear of this little girl.
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?
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 !!!
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.
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'.
HeavenlyE thats a lovely idea ..
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.
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.
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?
I'm so sorry to hear about your friend (I still cannot believe how much this happens )
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
Bump and also, mamma, how is your friend? x
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
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
To all the bereaved parents on this thread, I'm so very sorry for your losses.
Also I want to say thank you for sharing your experiences, and for all the advice you've provided. A close friend recently, devastatingly, lost a child, and I have been consulting this thread frequently to guide me in how best to support her.
My Grandma lost her 6 month old son to pneumonia 53 years ago. She talks to me about him very often, about that morning, about what he was like as baby, what it was like having an 11 month age gap between my Dad and her second son, anything and everything really. Obviously her and my Grandad talk about him, but I'm the only one whos ever asked questions like above. Talking about him makes her very happy. She only has 1 photo of him.
When I first started dating my now-DH, she asked did he have kids? Yes, he has two boys. One is 11. One would be 3 now. He lost his youngest son to SIDS at 4 weeks old. As expected, she cried. And she said "The worst thing is, I can't even tell you it will get any better or any easier for him. Because it doesn't. You adjust and go round, adjust and go round. 50 years on I still look at presents under the tree and know there should be another lot there, with another name on. It pains me that I cannot even tell newly bereaved parents that it gets easier. It doesn't."
DH said I was the only one who would ask about his son. (We were friends before we started dating, but weren't close friends until after he split with his exDP and me my exDP, both single parents living close to each other, friendship developed then love blossomed from that) Nobody else would talk about him, let alone ask. I admitted I'd taken a massive gamble with it, that my Gran liked to talk about her son, and I thought he might like to as well.
I'm so very sorry for all your losses.
May I ask a question to those who have lost a child around the time of birth, please: how do you feel about photographs of you when you were pregnant with the child you lost?
Just found this thread, and wish I'd found it earlier. Supporting a friend whose little girl died a year ago, and I just want to do anything I can to help her. I've tried to keep in touch by text if I haven't seen her for a while and always on birthdays/anniversaries. Another thing I've tried to do is tell her how much she is loved and appreciated, because I know she's had a huge crisis of confidence at work. I've also told her how amazing she is for supporting me and others through some work issues we've had when I know she's going through so much herself. I don't know if this is helpful, I just felt like I had to say it. She truly is an inspiration, although I know she doesn't believe it herself. One thing she said she found difficult was that people would ask her what she wanted them to do/say. She didn't know herself, so how could she advise them?
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
Oh my goodness Petra. How dreadful.
I was the DC3- youngest sibling- when my brother DC1 died in sleep suddenly no illness etc. similar age to your friends daughter. I was only little but it's shaped and warped my entire life.
I don't know the answer here that a bereaved parent might say but for the sake of your friend and the ten yr old I would go. Plan to stay in a hotel and do what you can. How recently I did it happen?
The other child will need support when his parents will be broken. Meals cooked and basic care. I've no idea what happened in my family immediately after the event but I'm pretty sure more external support would have helped.
I'm sorry if I've got this wrong.
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
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