Ways to Comfort a Mourning Parent

red roses close up photography Comforting parents after the death of a child can be challenging, but the skills necessary to help a bereaved parent can be within our abilities to care and reach out.  The skills include:

  • Acknowledging the family’s loss, their pain and your  sadness about the loss
  • Allowing parents to express themselves without judging them or giving unsolicited advice or suggestions
  • Allowing the parents to cry
  • Allowing yourself to cry
  • Not feeling awkward and speaking when a silence occurs
  • Just being present
  • Saying the name of the child in conversation
  • Avoid using clichés such as “I know how you feel.”  “At least you know they are in a better place.”  Or  “You’re young.  You can always have other children.”
  • Being interested in their stories about the child and their loss
  • Avoiding trying to explain why the loss took place
  • Sharing your fond memories of the child
  • Asking to see pictures of the child
  • Extending gestures of concern
  • Remembering anniversaries and special days  by contacting the parents
  • Including the surviving children in your conversations and in your care for the family
  • Donating a memorial in honor of the child
  • Doing something special for the family without asking or without being asked
  • Respecting the grieving styles and needs of the parents
  • Keep in mind that the parents may not be able to ask for help or be able to tell you just what they need.
  • Giving them time and emotional space to heal.  Be patient. 

    Written by Larry M. Barber, LPC-S, CT author of the grief survival guide “Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope and Promise”  available online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Christianbook.com.

    The grief survival guide is also available in Spanish as “El Amor Nunica Muere: Aceptando el Dolor con Esperanza y Promesa” on Amazon.com.

    Larry is the director of GriefWorks, a free grief support program for children and their families in Dallas TX  http://grief-works.org.

    FOR INFORMATION ON SCHEDULING COUNSELING SERVICES WITH LARRY BARBER  https://taylorcounselinggroup.com/larry-barber .