The loss of a child(ren) is life changing. There is no greater sorrow one can experience. The loss of a child is like a sucker punch to the throat, its takes your breath away, it aches to breathe and it hurts to swallow. It doesnt matter if the child died in the womb, during birth, in a tragic car accident or at the will of a random bullet meant for the local drug runner or gang member — it just fucking hurts! There is no way to compare the feelings of such loss based on the circumstances of the child or children’s death. To try and assign the weight or a degree of pain to a parent for the loss of their child is asinine. It seems unfathomable that people attempt to do this but I assure you that they do! The love a parent has for a child who dies is unconditional, profound and lasts an eternity. Such loss can leave family, friends and a community speechless, stunned and scrambling to find peace and understanding that may never come.
If you are looking for ways to support someone who has lost a child here are a few suggestions. Please note that there are hundreds of things that people can do to help, but these are my simple ways and they will not be the answer to healing the depression, grief and overwhelming feelings of loss that a parent feels. These are just ways for you to acknowledge this loss and show that you care.
1. Acknowledge The Parents Loss
Lift them up in prayer. Send them your positive energy. Send them a card, flowers or a monetary donation if there is a burial or scholarship fund set up in memory of the child/children.
2. Listen To Them
Listen to the parents as they talk about their loss or memories child/children. Allow them to share their feelings with you. Offer hugs and a pair of ears to help ease their pain.
3. Cook A Meal For Them
After such loss it is easy for parents to be overwhelmed. Offering and preparing a simple meal can help them with self-care and will provide them with the nutrition they will need to deal with their loss.
4. Invite Them Out To An Activity
Invitations to get out of the house will probably be declined but keep asking! The goal is to get them out to participate in an activity, preferably an adult activity without children present. Invite them to your home for cards or a board game. Ask to meet them at a coffee shop, or ask them to take a walk with you at a park. Keep asking them, don’t barrage them but ask them at least once a week.
5. Plant a Tree in Memory of the Child
Call the Arbor Society or visit http://www.arborday.org and pay to plant a tree in honor of the child.
6. Make a Donation
Donate to a local school that they attended, a charity that helps children, or the Pediatrics Department at the local hospital in honor of the child/children. In these tight budget times, donations are needed and what better way to honor the family than to remember their child by helping another child.
7. Ask them, “How Can I Help You?”
Ask them if they need you to do anything specific for them. Tell them that you want to help them.
8. Speak Out For Children!
Become an advocate for children. Speak out against community violence, talk about children’s diseases or become an advocate for change to protect and enhance the lives of children.
9. Offer Resources To Help the Parents, Family and Community to Heal.
Attend a grief support meeting with your friend. Ask a grief counselor to meet with the family or community if necessary so that people can begin to process their feelings. This is really helpful when children die after long illnesses or under violent circumstances. Children touch a community and sometimes it’s the community that needs to heal.
10. Just be there for them.
Finally, I say it’s just so important to just be there for the parents. Let them know that they are not alone. Let them know that they are lived and cared for. Let them know that YOU are there and you share their loss.
If you know someone who has lost a child or children please be present for them and comfort them as best you can. You may feel there is nothing you can do for them, but being there for them can and often does mean the world to them and it can truly help them begin to heal.
New children after the loss of a child /children, is a blessing but it is never a replacement of those who are gone. This article was written because I am feeling the need to give a special thanks to those who’ve helped and a wonderful Congratulations to my friend Lani and her hubby and the impending birth of their child after losing their child. I know Silas is watching over his sibling from heaven.