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Helpful Suggestions For Coping with Grief
  • DO remember that you can’t take away their pain, but you can share it and help them feel less alone.
  • DO let your genuine concern and care show.
  • DO treat the parents grieving the loss of a child equally; Both fathers and mothers need support.  Every person manifests grief in a different manner, and men and women display their grief in different ways as well.
  • DO be available to help and volunteer...to listen, to run errands, to drive, help with the other children, or whatever else seems needed at the time.
  • DO say you are sorry about what happened to their husband/wife/ brother/sister/child and about their pain.
  • DO accept their moods whatever they may be, you are not there to judge. Be sensitive to shifting moods.
  • DO allow talk about the special, endearing qualities of the husband/wife/ brother/sister/child that died.  If a person opens up to speak about their loved one allow them to speak and be there to listen, not necessarily give an opinion or a comment. 
  • DO give special attention to surviving relatives and siblings-at the funeral and in the months to come (they too are hurt and confused and in need of attention which their parents/ loved ones may not be able to give).
  • DO reassure the parents/ relatives that they did everything they could, that the care their loved one received was the best possible.
  • DO put on your calendar the birth and death of the loved one and remember the family the following year(s).
  • DO extend invitations to the family. But understanding if they decline or change their minds at the last minute. Above all continue to call and visit.
  • DO send a personal note or letter or make a contribution to a charity that is meaningful to the family.
  • DO get literature about the condition and grief process to help you understand.

  • DON’T think that the age of a child when they die determines how painful the loss is to their family.
  • DON’T be afraid to offer a hug, it can often be more comforting than words.
  • DON’T avoid the family because you feel helpless, uncomfortable, or don’t know what to say.
  • DON’T change the subject when someone mentions the person/ child that died.
  • DON’T push the parents/ relatives through the grieving process, it takes a long time to heal and everyone heals at their own pace.
  • DON’T encourage the use of anti- depressive drugs- unless you are the person’s physician, and if signs of depression do not go away encourage the person to seek professional medical advice.
  • DON’T tell a grieving family what they should feel or do.
  • DON’T try to find something positive in the person’s/ child’s death.
  • DON’T tell grieving parents that they can always have another child, this is a personal decision, and one that may need time.
  • DON’T suggest that they should be grateful for the time they had together, no one who is in the moment of grief wants to hear aphorisms.
  • DON’T tell parents you know how they feel, even if you also lost a child, allow them to tell you how they feel and listen.
  • DON’T think that death puts a ban on laughter.  There can be much enjoyment in memories.
  • DON’T forget to “find the time” to call and keep in touch, especially on holidays and anniversaries.
  • DON’T use clichés and sayings that are often used to try to make sense of this tragedy. These statements often hurt more than help.
Sometimes a hug says more than words alone can ever say.

*Sources: Compassionate Friends.org; The American Cancer Society