Losing a child can be a devastating time for a person, and being a good friend during such an emotional time can be challenging. It can be difficult to understand what your friend is going through, especially if you have never been through something similar. While your heart may be in the right place, and you want to provide love and comfort how do you do so? What are the right things to say, and how do you be a supportive and caring friend during times of grief and loss like these?
There are many ways you can be a supportive friend, and following the advice below can help assure you are doing the right thing and giving your friend what they need.
What To Say
Many people are so distraught and sympathetic for their friends when grieving like this, and have no idea what the right thing to say is therefore end up just saying nothing. Everyone is different and finds comfort in different ways so knowing exactly what to say is not always easy, but no matter what you need to say something. Your friend will never hold it against you if you don't have those magic words to make everything better, but they may never forgive you for staying away or not saying anything. Always let them know they are in your thoughts and you acknowledge their loss. Let them lead the conversation, and if they need to talk be willing and open to listen.
Don’t Wait To Be Asked
Most people automatically offer their assistance when friends are going through times of crisis. As kind as that is, it is even better to just go ahead and do it. If you are visiting, do the dishes or fold some laundry, if they aren’t feeling up to company cook a meal and drop it off without intruding. Some people are uncomfortable asking for help, but most will really appreciate a kind and helpful gesture.
Plan A Getaway
After the fog has cleared and life starts to resume to normal it may be a good idea to plan an appropriate getaway for your friend. Nothing too exciting or adventurous, but a peaceful spa retreat or harming bed and breakfast can give the break from reality needed to start putting the pieces back together, reconnecting with friends, and help them get small pleasure out of things again when they have been so wrapped up in pain and grief.
Remember and Honor With Them
People often don't mention the loss of a baby or avoid talking in lengths about it as to avoid upsetting the parents. This is not always the best approach. Take the time to acknowledge their loss, share in memories, and share their pain as best you can. Participate in any memorials or tributes with them, letting them know you are there for support. You may also want to get them a small token or gift in honor of the passing, such as a locket or special candle. Having others share in the grieving process helps them feel connected to others and that their grief is validated.
Be considerate about bringing your own children around to visit, or talking at great length about your family. You never want to add to the pain your friend is feeling and for some time after a loss seeing other children and families happy and healthy can be family, even if they want nothing but happiness for you. Give them time to adjust and prepare before being forced into a situation where they need to be around other people’s children, especially babies.
There is really nothing we can do to ease the pain or make the loss any easier to endure, but having compassion and being a supportive friend is as helpful as anyone can be. Understand they may not be themselves for a while and they need you.