Grief: What not to do

  • Posted on May 17, 2013 at 9:54 pm

Everyone expresses their grief in different ways. Some find comfort in one thing, while another person may not. Below is a list of thing that have been suggested will help support someone who is in grief.

What NOT to Do

DON’T avoid mentioning their loss or the child’s name out of fear of reminding them of their pain (they haven’t forgotten it!).

DON’T change the subject when they mention their dead child.

DON’T tell them what they should feel or do.

DON’T avoid the bereaved parents because you are uncomfortable (being avoided by friends adds pain to an already painful experience.)

DON’T let your friends, family or co-workers grieve alone. There is a tremendous sense of isolation and abandonment during the grief process. You can help by caring, by being there, and by being the best friend you can.

DON’T make any comments which in any way suggest that their loss was their fault.

DON’T point out that at least they have their other children (children are not interchangeable; they can not replace each other).

DON’T say “Your loved one is waiting for you over there,” “God wanted him,” “It was God’s will,” or “God knows best.”

DON’T say “you can always have another child.”

DON’T say “you should be coping or feeling better by now” or anything else which may seem judgmental about their progress in grieving.

DON’T say that you know how they feel (unless you’ve experienced their loss yourself you probably don’t know how they feel).

DON’T suggest that they should be grateful for their other children. Grief over the loss of one child does not discount the parents’ love and appreciation of their living children.

DON’T tell them not to cry. It hurts us to see them cry and makes us sad. But, by telling them not to cry, we are trying to take their grief away.

DON’T tell them what they should feel or do.

DON’T allow your own fears from preventing you from offering support to the bereaved.

DON’T fear that bringing up the dead child’s name will create sadness.

DON’T say, “If you need anything call me” because the bereaved don’t always know how to call and ask for your support.

DON’T be afraid if you make your bereaved friend or relative cry.

DON’T Think that good news (family wedding, pregnancy, job promotion, etc.) cancels out grief.

DON’T Have expectations for what bereaved parents should or should not be doing at different times in their grief.

DON’T Forget the overlooked mourners (grandparents, uncles, aunt’s, close friends etc.) who need your support too.

DON’T force bereaved people to talk about their loss. They will engage you when the time is right.

DON’T Find yourself saying any of the following:
     It was God’s will.
     It was meant to be.
     He’s in a better place now.
     Time heals all wounds.
     I know just how you feel.
     You are still young enough to have more children.
     Are you not over it yet?
     At least you have other children.
     Your child is in a better place.
     It was for the best.
     Now you will have an angel in heaven.
     It could have been worse…
     It’s been ______ amount of time and you have to get on with your life.

DON’T Expect grieving parents to be strong and don’t compliment them if they seem to be strong.

DON’T Tell a grieving parent how they should feel.

DON’T Be afraid of reminding the parents about the child. They haven’t forgotten.

DON’T Be afraid to cry or laugh in front of the bereaved.

DON’T Assume that when a grieving parent is laughing, they are over anything or grieving any less.

DON’T Wait until you know the perfect thing to say. Just say whatever is in your heart or say nothing at all. Sometimes just being there is comfort enough.

DON’T Underestimate the impact of grief on children. Children understand and retain a lot more than they may show.

DON’T Think that children are too young to appreciate loss or death.


We Need Not Walk Alone….We Are The Compassionate Friends

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