This World Children’s Day, we want to share some ways that you can support friends and family during their grief. The loss of a child, one’s own child, at any age is challenging. When they have not yet lived a full life, it can seem unjust and unfair. It’s important to remember that our friends and family need us more than ever during the challenging early days, but also in the months and years after.
Here are some of the ways you can help.
Say their name
There is no greater gift to a parent than to hear their child’s name spoken out loud. When you are speaking to the parent, refer to the child who is no longer with us by their name. Ask about them. Listen to stories. Share memories. This is a gift that can mean so much to people during their grief.
Show them you are there
When in grief, people often see that as a time to leave the person alone to deal with their pain and sadness. In reality, this is the time where they need love and support the most. Of course, it’s up to each individual to express what it is that they need, but more often than not grieving parents speak of how alone they felt.
Whether it’s a visit their home, a phone call, a letter or just a little love heart SMS, being there at this time can do wonders for the grieving process.
Let them talk
It can be difficult to see someone we love in pain. When someone is in grief, they are hurt and aching. They will have thoughts and feelings that are challenging and it’s important that we let them have those and express them openly. Letting your friend or family member speak freely about what they are experiencing can be deeply therapeutic for them.
Of course, you are not a counsellor or psychologist and cannot offer advice or support of the professional kind, nor would we ever suggest that you should. But a friendly face and a welcome listener can really help support someone who is grieving and help them process their own feelings.
Don’t stop inviting them or including them
Although you may recognise someone is In a time of grieving, the invitations to events and inclusion in social activities don’t have to cease. Some people may find it easier being around others and want to be out and about at social gatherings. Others may not be up for it and want some more time alone. However, it’s important that they know they are loved, wanted and thought about. It’s up to the person who is grieving to decide what.
To all the parents grieving at this time, we send our condolences and thoughts to you. Know that your child was loved by many and will live on in all of our memories.
Keep showing up
After the immediate loss of a child, in the thick of the heartache and grief, parents are surrounded by friends, family and love. But often in the months and years after, they are met with statements of “move on” or “I thought you were doing ok now”. They will never ever forget their child, and nor should we. Keep showing up for them and following the steps above. Speaking their child’s name, sharing memories, being there for them. Continue to show that you love and support them, and whenever they want to share about their child or grieve their loss again, allow them that. Just be there.
If you’re grieving the loss of a child and feel you need support, please consider visiting The Centre for Care and Wellbeing to access a wealth of resources and services. Learn more here.
Each year, SMCT holds a Children’s Christmas Remembrance Service. We are honoured to deliver this beautiful annual service to our community who have experienced what is possibly the saddest loss, that of a child. Read more about our 2019 service and we welcome you to join us at the end of the year.