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Advice needed: colleague has lost teenage daughter

(12 Posts)
mistressploppy Mon 13-Jun-11 18:39:45

It's unbearably sad and I need some advice as I'm unsure how best to act.

DH has a very close colleague whose DP's 18yo daughter has just died in a car crash. He is struggling to cope and has asked us to come round as a family to see them.

DH has never met the DP or either of her children (she also has a 16yo).

We have gently asked if they are sure they want us all to come (we have 19mo DS) and been assured yes.

I am not sure what to bring, how to act, what to say. I'm aware how pathetic that sounds, but I feel so deeply for this poor woman and what's happened, I just want to bring any shred of comfort I might be able to.

I also want to alleviate any pressure she might feel from our visit (DH is her DP's boss)

I suspect she will be knee-deep in flowers

Can anyone advise?

carocaro Mon 13-Jun-11 19:27:04

How sad.

I think, although no experience, is to just listen when you are there, take something practical like a lasagne or cottage pie. Maybe the comfort of people who have some connection is what they need just now. To absorb the shock. You DS may help bring some light to the situations.

Go and just be there.

Onlyaphase Mon 13-Jun-11 19:33:40

Didn't want this to go unanswered.

My sister was killed in a car crash when she was 18 and I was 11. The house was full of friends and relatives sitting there talking quietly for what seemed like weeks. And we had lots of flowers, you're right.

I'd take your lead in conversation from the parents to be honest. Some bereaved people get comfort in talking about the funeral arrangements etc in great detail, almost compulsively talking about it. Nod and smile and agree with them. Say how lovely the flowers are, how popular their daughter must have been.

The thing my parents hated was if people didn't acknowledge their loss, some friends never got in touch with them again, or mentioned their daughter at all.
Far better to open a conversation with saying how sorry you were to hear about their daughter. Ask about the funeral, is there anything you can do, do they need help, are they hoping for flowers at the funeral, or donations to a charity, which charity, is it one of their daughter's favourites.

It is unlikely that either parent will be feeling any pressure about your visit stemming from your DH being his boss.

Don't stay too long, go to the funeral if asked, and make an effort to call them in a month or so to see how they are doing. So many people won't do the latter.

aliceliddell Mon 13-Jun-11 19:42:40

It might help to say eg you have next Wednesday afternoon free to do anything they need and make a few suggestions like shopping, running errands, phoning things like banks to close accounts, taking them to a nice park etc. They might want to but can'tsay it.

everlong Mon 13-Jun-11 20:39:31

How tragic.

Please be reassured that they want you both there for a good reason, they trust you both and want people around them they feel safe with ( even though your dh hasn't met the other members of the family ) honestly don't worry.

I lost my eldest ds, Oliver, 20, 2.6 years ago. In those first few weeks I could only cope with a certain very few people. The ones I loved and trusted, the ones that were quiet and unobtrusive and the ones that just 'helped' us through a terrible and very dark time.

Don't worry about the right or wrong. Just be there for them.

I am really sorry for them.

mistressploppy Mon 13-Jun-11 21:10:54

I'm so grateful for your replies

Onlyaphase - I have an older sister whom I love more than I can say. I'm so sorry you lost your sister.

everlong - I can't imagine what you've been through. I'm so sorry.

Thank you for your insights

chimchar Wed 15-Jun-11 07:07:31

hi. thats a really awful, dreadful thing to happen.

the thing that i found most useful, helpful and kind afgter my mum died very suddenly, was my friend who brought food. neither my dad or myself had eaten more than tea and biscuits in days.... she arrived with a curry in an ovenproof bowl, and bought packets of micro rice and popadoms. it was great.... maybe you could do the same to take with you.

agree with all the other advice too...

so sorry to hear of everyones losses. its a harsh world we live in. sad

zeno Wed 15-Jun-11 20:17:12

Mistress, I hope it all goes OK. Having been on the receiving end of support I know how valuable it is to have people around who make the effort to consider what they're doing and how to help as best they can.

Follow this link to a truly helpful page of advice on how to support bereaved parents. We were fortunate enough to have someone who sent this round to lots of people we know and it meant we were very well supported.

Northernlurker Wed 15-Jun-11 20:21:33

All I can suggest is definately take food and definately talk about their daughter and if it brings your to tears then cry. Nothing can be worse then people acting as though they aren't touched by a loss.

everlong Thu 16-Jun-11 10:18:12

zeno the link you put on is perfect and exactly right.

zeno Thu 16-Jun-11 12:00:37

Thanks Everlong. I keep posting the link everytime someone asks how to help.

The more people see it the better. I'm convinced it was a major factor in setting us on the right course, because it meant fewer people behaved like eejits around us.

everlong Thu 16-Jun-11 13:58:55

Yes it would be good if it could be a 'sticky' somewhere on here.

I'm sorry I don't know your situation, but I'm glad that you had a lot of support during your very sad time.

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