Post Reply FAQ Members Login

The Do's and Don'ts of Grief Support

A place for those bereaved to receive and offer support

The Do's and Don'ts of Grief Support

Postby amillhouse » Wed Apr 28, 2004 04:39 pm

by amillhouse (587 Posts), Wed Apr 28, 2004 04:39 pm

Hi, All:

We have been talking about stupid things that people say. I think it might be useful if we help them know better things to say to us. I found this at another website and I think it is on point. I know I am going to give it to one friend who has really demonstrated a desire to be there for me. What do you think about this list? Anything else need to be added?


The Do's and Don'ts of Grief Support

What is the best question you can ask a bereaved parent? Answer: How are you REALLY doing since your child died? (use the child's name)

Do's

Do ask, "How are you REALLY doing?"
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 call the child by name.
Do treat the couple equally. Fathers need as much support as mothers.
Do be available...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 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 them to talk about the child that has died as much and as often as they want.
Do talk about the special, endearing qualities of the child.
Do give special attention to the child's brother and sister— at the funeral and in the months to come (they too are hurt and confused and in need of attention which their parents may not be able to give).
Do reassure the parents that they did everything they could, that the care the child received was the best possible.
Do put on your calendar the birth and death date of the child and remember the family the following year(s). That you remember the child is very supportive.
Do extend invitations to them. But understand 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 disease and grief process to help you understand.

Don'ts

Don't be afraid to ask about the deceased child and to share memories.
Don't think that the age of the child determines its value and impact.
Don't be afraid to touch, it can often be more comforting than words.
Don't avoid them because you feel helpless or uncomfortable, or don't know what to say.
Don't change the subject when they mention their child.
Don't push the parents through the grieving process, it takes a long time to heal and they never forget.
Don't encourage the use of drugs or alcohol.
Don't ask them how they feel if you aren't willing to listen.
Don't say you know how they feel.
Don't tell them what they should feel or do.
Don't try to find something positive in the child's death.
Don't point out that at least they have their other other children.
Don't say that they can always have another child.
Don't suggest that they should be grateful for their other children.
Don't think that death puts a ban on laughter. There is much enjoyment in the memory of the time they had together.
Avoid the following clichés:
"Be brave, don't cry."
"It was God's will" or "it was a blessing."
"Get on with your life. This isn't the end of the world."
"God needed another flower in his garden."
"At least it wasn't older."
"You must be strong for the other children."
"You're doing so well."
"You're young, you'll get over it."
"Time will heal."


Anika

Mommy to Isaiah Dumisani Millhouse
20 January - 17 February 2004
Born at 28 weeks due to severe pre-eclampsia
Died at 28 days old of pneumonia
610 grams at birth
950 grams at death
My Angel Boy
"My firstborn, I will never forget you, always love you, and never replace you"
[URL=http://www.babiesonline.com/babies/d/dumisani]Isaiah's Website[/URL]
amillhouse
Registered User
 
Posts: 587
Joined: Wed Feb 25, 2004 05:09 am

Re : The Do's and Don'ts of Grief Support

Postby for faith » Thu Apr 29, 2004 10:51 am

by for faith (1749 Posts), Thu Apr 29, 2004 10:51 am

Think it is a great list!!! Some many of those hit home and I agree.

Jill
mommy to:
Tyler - 4 (36 wks, PIH)
Angel baby - 1/20/03 (11 wks)
Faith Kristine - 1/5/04-1/30/04 (30 weeks due to severe preeclampsia, passed due to NEC & Sepsis(premie complications))
for faith
Registered User
 
Posts: 1749
Joined: Wed Mar 10, 2004 02:15 pm

Re : The Do's and Don'ts of Grief Support

Postby amillhouse » Mon May 03, 2004 09:51 pm

by amillhouse (587 Posts), Mon May 03, 2004 09:51 pm

PLEASE

by Rita Moran of The Compassionate Friends

PLEASE -- don't ask me if I'm over it yet. I'll never be 'over it'.
PLEASE -- don't tell me he's in a better place. He isn't here.
PLEASE -- don't say, 'at least he isn't suffering'. I haven't come to terms with why he had to suffer at all.
PLEASE -- don't say, 'well, you're lucky. He would have been born with a lot of problems.' Would you love your child any less if they has been born with problems?
PLEASE -- don't tell me you know how I feel unless you have lost a child.
PLEASE -- don't tell me to get on with my life. I'm still here, you'll notice.
PLEASE -- don't ask me if I'm better yet. Bereavement isn't a condition that just 'clears up'.
PLEASE -- don't tell me, 'God never makes a mistake' or 'it was God's will'. You mean he did this on purpose?
PLEASE -- don't tell me 'at least you had him for 9 months' or 'At least you can have other babies'. What year would you choose for your son to die?
PLEASE -- don't tell me God never gives you more than you can bear. Who decides how much another person can bear?
PLEASE -- Just say you are sorry.
PLEASE -- Just say you remember him and our excitement if you do.
PLEASE -- Just let me talk if I want to.
PLEASE -- Just let me say his name without turning away or changing the subject.
PLEASE -- Just let me cry when I must.


Anika

Mommy to Isaiah Dumisani Millhouse
20 January - 17 February 2004
Born at 28 weeks due to severe pre-eclampsia
Died at 28 days old of pneumonia
610 grams at birth
950 grams at death
My Angel Boy
"My firstborn, I will never forget you, always love you, and never replace you"
[URL=http://www.babiesonline.com/babies/d/dumisani]Isaiah's Website[/URL]
amillhouse
Registered User
 
Posts: 587
Joined: Wed Feb 25, 2004 05:09 am

Re : The Do's and Don'ts of Grief Support

Postby julie f » Mon May 03, 2004 10:06 pm

by julie f (7993 Posts), Mon May 03, 2004 10:06 pm

So many people have reminded me that, "God doesn't give us more than we can bear..." Often, this thought consumes me with fear because I think, what if He thinks I can handle more?

Julie (27)
Zachary James, 7/22/03-7/27/03, born at 26wks - severe pe

Praying for a miracle... TTC #2 is a go!

Southern California Coordinator
User avatar
julie f
Registered User
 
Posts: 7993
Joined: Thu Aug 07, 2003 11:56 am

Re : The Do's and Don'ts of Grief Support

Postby josiah1112 » Tue May 04, 2004 05:43 am

by josiah1112 (1368 Posts), Tue May 04, 2004 05:43 am

I know what you mean Julie. Sometimes I think,"God, I
wish you didn't have so much faith in me!!

Great list Anika!! Thanks for posting it.

Gloria mom to Josiah 11/12/03- 12/4/03 @ 26wks pre e

Future Adoptive Mom
josiah1112
Registered User
 
Posts: 1368
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2003 09:50 pm

Re : The Do's and Don'ts of Grief Support

Postby angelkat » Tue May 04, 2004 08:36 am

by angelkat (3423 Posts), Tue May 04, 2004 08:36 am

Thank you for sharing....

Hugs
~T
Moderator Grief and Loss
Mommy to
Drew(13)
Ky (11)
~i~ Katlyne(12/9/02-04/02/03) & Casey (EDD 09/10 or 09/11-Sure he will be here in Aug)
Katlyne's Tribute Site
http://forevernetwork.com/lifestories/lifestory.cfm?Archive_ID=10971&Directory=/Archives/MountHope&Sort=V
angelkat
Registered User
 
Posts: 3423
Joined: Thu May 08, 2003 10:26 am

Re : The Do's and Don'ts of Grief Support

Postby annegarrett » Tue May 04, 2004 11:03 am

by annegarrett (2525 Posts), Tue May 04, 2004 11:03 am

I know this is going to sound odd--but in our grief I think it is important (I think Eleni posted a great topic on this recently) to appreciate that ANYONE who is saying ANYTHING to you is trying to express love and support--however inept, or unkind it comes out. When my mom died, my former mil said to me that she had worried that the kids (who are quite little and are not quite clear yet on which gramma is which) would be worried that the "real gramma" had died so she had wanted to get out to see them quickly so that they would know she was okay. I could have been truly offended but she is Spanish and so sometimes her way of expressing herself isn't always as clear as someone else and I knew her heart--I knew she was saying these guys needed to know that there was still someone who loved them immensely there for them. She is quite close to the kids--closer than my mom was--and so they might have feared she had been the one who died. If you have a loss--I think sending out this list that Annika shared is a really helpful way to let people know how to help you. Many people have little to no experience with death, especially during the childbearing years, and Americans keep death at hospitals and in funeral homes so at arms length. If someone tries to say something--look beyond the words and into their heart--they are trying to be there and they are also feeling pain for you and for fear for themselves. If death can touch you--what makes them invulnerable? Even anger is an expression of pain and hurt...so even the ugliest comments come from a place of hurt and sadness. Even in your grief--if you can give someone the benefit of the doubt--you wil have the opportunity to grow closer and to receive more support. If you choose to hear the words literally--you may shut the door and cause more sadness. Loss is hard enough...without making more loss. I always say that to people who say "God never gives you more than you can bear."..."Yeah, but I just wish he didn't trust me so much." Sometimes just flipping it on them is helpful way of lightening the situation and allows them to feel helpful which is what they are trying, in their own awkward way, to do. Just my two-cents.

Take care,

Anne Garrett
Executive Director
Preeclampsia Foundation
User avatar
annegarrett
Registered User
 
Posts: 2525
Joined: Tue Jan 21, 2003 01:58 pm
Location: Lake Stevens, Washington

Re : The Do's and Don'ts of Grief Support

Postby angelkat » Tue May 04, 2004 12:03 am

by angelkat (3423 Posts), Tue May 04, 2004 12:03 am

Thanks Anne for your thoughts.... I think it's hard on either side of the coin. Parents that haven't loss a child are loss for words (trying to find the right words I'm sure is hard) and Parents that have suffered a loss are heartbroken.

Hugs
~T
Moderator Grief and Loss
Mommy to
Drew(13)
Ky (11)
~i~ Katlyne(12/9/02-04/02/03) & Casey (EDD 09/10 or 09/11-Sure he will be here in Aug)
Katlyne's Tribute Site
http://forevernetwork.com/lifestories/lifestory.cfm?Archive_ID=10971&Directory=/Archives/MountHope&Sort=V
angelkat
Registered User
 
Posts: 3423
Joined: Thu May 08, 2003 10:26 am

Re : The Do's and Don'ts of Grief Support

Postby lisac » Tue May 04, 2004 08:31 pm

by lisac (247 Posts), Tue May 04, 2004 08:31 pm

Dare I even admit that a few of the cliches did actually console me?

I know people despise the, "It wasn't meant to be" line, but somehow when my mother and my husband said that it truly helped. It helped me surrendor to the knowledge that the power of this was beyond my control. Also, I began to consider that if she wasn't meant to be here in life, maybe she was meant to be with me for those five months that profoundly changed me forever.

Maybe it depends on who says these things,though. It was ok for my husband or mother to make the comment because they too were grieving. If an acquaintance said it, I would think it was out of line.

People also hate the, "time will heal" cliche, but I found some truth in that as well. I was terrified right after her death that I'd always feel that bad. It really helped to hear from other women that it is possible to heal fom this.

What works for one person may be the worst thing to say to somebody else. No wonder people don't know what to say.
lisac
Registered User
 
Posts: 247
Joined: Wed Jun 25, 2003 04:23 pm


Return to Grief and Loss

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests