Knowing what to say to a bereaved mum(16 Posts)
I wanted to ask for some help please.
A very close friend of the family has very sadly lost their child to suicide, there is a complicated history and the child had suffered with their mental health for some time.
I'm completely heartbroken by this but want to support the family as best as I can. The friend isn't based in the UK and so there is limited practical support I can offer, but I wanted to say something, although can't seem to find the right words. Saying that I'm sorry for their loss, just doesn't feel like enough.
Could you help with this?
I would like to send something in writing as I don't think I could trust myself not to cry on the phone, and I don't want to make this about my grief. Given the circumstances, we don't yet know what to expect in terms of funerals and I didn't want to leave this unacknowledged until then.
Do you have a particularly lovely/happy/funny/just nice memory of the child you can share and remember together? I worried about this too once with a friend, but a few months later she told me how helpful it had been at such a dark time to remember and smile over something good. That death was illness though, so perhaps different? Sorry you are having to think about this.
What a terrible ask - how very sad for your friend. Could you perhaps include mention in your letter of some happy memories that you have from the child's childhood days? so that your friend knows other people have lovely memories?
I would also say something along the lines of not being to even imagine the pain the friend is going through and how s/he will need a lot of time to heal, and how they must be kind and gentle with themselves.
And even though it's so sad for everyone left behind the child who was unable to find peace in this world is at least at peace now.
Agree, if you knew the child, try to remind the mum of something happy or funny.
I lost my 7 year old son 16 years ago (he had severe cerebral palsy) and the only cards I can remember were the ones where people mentioned happy memories of him.
Thank you for replying.
It's really difficult as I have only known the child well since he became unwell and I don't want to focus on that too much as the decline was so painful for everyone involved.
I do like the comment about them being kind to themselves now and taking the time they need to heal. That reflects quite strongly what I feel. Also that he's at peace now.
He was such a star though, super intelligent, empathetic and so lovely but just completely unable to deal with the real world. It's such a loss.
I'm so sorry for your loss mumble, thank you for sharing your thoughts.
I've lost a child to suicide so I'll try and help if I can.
Initially your friend will be in complete shock and this can last quite a few days. She won't be able to comprehend what has happened. She will go over and over it. After the shock has started to wear off the grief will hit her. She may cry non stop, she might want to talk to you or she might not be able to.
I would phone her though. Even if she says she can't speak or outs the phone down at least she knows you have rang her.
I would also write to her. You can talk about her son and about his good points but the most important thing ( to me ) was that people didn't try and say they understood or knew how I felt but that they would always be there to listen no matter how often I needed to talk.
After a chikd dies people rally round in the early days but very quickly get back to their lives.
Losing a child is the loneliest thing in the world. People cross over the road when they see you, avoid you in the supermarket or school yard because it's often too painful and awkward for them so the bereaved parent puts on the ' mask ' and pretends they are coping when I'm fact inside they dying.
Keep in touch with her a lot. Remember his birthday and the day he died, at Christmas too.
Just don't think she will ever be the same friend. She's changed forever even if you think she sounds fine.
Thank you for being there for her.
I cannot imagine a worse pain. Everlong I hope you have lots of lovely, good memories and that you have some fab RL supportive friends.
Agree with ever long. The worst thing is people avoiding you, not contacting you because they don't know what to say. Just make contact, be sincere and avoid cliches et c. After the initial shock of a sudden death it can be very lonely as people avoid you.
I'm so sorry for your loss Everlong (and Murder), I remember you telling me about your little one before.
Thank you all for coming back to me with advice. I managed to speak with his mum on the phone last night which really helped as she was able to ask for some practical help with things. It sounds awful writing it down but at least I could then do something that helped a little. I am so aware that she was trying so hard to make it easier for me, which isn't fair on her at all.
I really appreciate the advice about ensuring we continue to support in the long term, it isn't something I'd really thought ahead to yet, but of course you are right.
She really is one of the bravest people I will ever know.
There's an article on the BBC news website - under the 'magazine ' part that I read yesterday. At the end was a very basic list of dos and donts when talking to parents whose children had killed themselves.
Hi BL00 - would you be able to help me find a link to that? I've looked at the magazine today and haven't been able to find it. I'm probably not looking in the right place, have proper brain fog today.
Breaking the silence on Jewish suicide
Hope this works. The dos and donts are quite near the end of the article.
Thank you so much, I couldn't see the wood for the trees earlier. I'll have a read now.
My son took his own life 20 months ago. I would actually avoid the phrase 'he is at peace now' (sorry to whoever suggested that). I wanted to strangle anyone that said that to me and also the other cliches (he's an angel, he's in Heaven. He's not here and that's all we think about, that we don't see our children every day). Tell her that you love her, tell her that you're there for her, ask her if she needs any practical help. There really is nothing more you can do other than be there, cook a meal, help with arrangements of any kind, take any other children out for the day to let your friend take stock of things and give her a moments respite (just re-read and seen that she is overseas so not that practical ...). Call or text her, let her know you haven't forgotten, even years down the line, birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas etc. Talk about her child. Yes, if you can, regale stories of funny things that they did/that you all did together. There really is nothing you can say to a bereaved parent that would make them feel better, nothing. Don't forget her is what I would advise, don't let your concern wane, don't think she's better now, don't ever think she doesn't need you, she always will. It can't be easy for the friends of a bereaved parent, no matter what the circumstances, no matter how they died. Life goes on for others, I know and understand that but if you realize that your friend will always be different, will cancel get togethers at a moments notice, will make excuses for canceling at the last moment, who doesn't take your call - it's a true friend who understands that xx
Hi Louster - firstly I am so sorry for your loss, secondly thank you so much for replying to me.
The advice I have received here has been so helpful, the article BL00 pointed me to and the other support given has really helped me to pull myself together over the last week and try to be a good friend. I could not have imagined how much a situation like this could hurt, and I knew him so little in comparison.
I am very touched that you have all been so kind and helped given your own losses.
I have spoken to, and written to my friend now, echoing the advice above, I've avoided the "at peace" type sentiments and talked about what he meant to us. We wanted her to know that we would do whatever we could to support her from now and try to help her through this. There are other children, so we have tried to help with some practical support for them too.
I am so grateful that you have all reminded me that we must continue to support in the long term, it's isn't that I'm completely dim, but the whole situation left me reeling and I couldn't think as far as that.
I don't want to clog up the board with this thread and will leave it here, but I felt it was important to acknowledge how grateful I am that you have all taken the time to help. x
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