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

(125 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

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.

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'.

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

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

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

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?

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 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.

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'.

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

HeavenlyE thats a lovely idea ..

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.

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

Bump x

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.

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

Wise words Theday.

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?

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

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

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

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

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

bellinabikebasket Wed 08-Oct-14 15:13:04

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.


ItsFunnierInEnochian Fri 10-Oct-14 10:06:39

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.

HoundsOfLurve Fri 10-Oct-14 13:02:37

I'm so very sorry for all your losses. flowers

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?

nenehooo Fri 10-Oct-14 23:05:06

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?

PetraArkanian Sat 11-Oct-14 17:41:25

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AChickenNamedDirk Sun 12-Oct-14 19:35:25

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.

PetraArkanian Tue 14-Oct-14 17:36:52

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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