Things Not To Say to the Grieving Parent

May 9, 2018



As I sit here this morning 

and sip my coffee,

I am reminded of how

bittersweet some days can be.


We come across people 

in our lives, sometimes every day.

And when tragedy hits,

those people tend to say

the wrong thing. 

Maybe they’re

trying to do good 

and they truly mean well. 

Or maybe, they are 

just trying to be nosy.


Whatever the ulterior motive is-

we must remember 

that most of these people 

are innocently ignorant. 


I can remember the day 

of my son, Bo's funeral. 

Just 10 months old, 

and in a tiny little white casket.

Sleeping so peacefully. 



And in his visitation line there were

people that came from so many different places

just to show and pay their respects.  


But there was still that one person

in his visitation line that

stopped and had the audacity to ask: 


“What happened?”


Being in shock, 

I couldn’t respond. 

My husband politely said 

We don’t know...”


As we directed this 

person toward 

our son’s casket, 

we were reminded

of how our hearts 

were plummeting

right before our eyes.


And she was unaware of the hurt she had caused.




Years into our loss and directing multiple

child loss support groups,

we have learned that there have 

been multiple instances where 

people have endured some

not so pleasant conversations, 

And inconsiderate comments.


It is almost as if this particular

person is putting their finger 

into a gunshot wound that has 

been inflicted on us. 

Our hearts are bleeding

even though you cannot see it. 

These ignorant comments 

and questions only cut us deeper.


Being young is irrelevant to the situation.

And need I say, that there is NO replacement

for the child that we had, pass away. 



You can’t imagine? 

We don’t want you to imagine!


We don’t want you to force us 

on another island of segregation. 


We just want to know that 

you are here. 

And that it is okay for us to 

talk about our child.


We don’t want you to imagine.



There is no “at least” in child loss.


I went through a similar situation when a

Jehovah’s Witness 

was at my door and 

went on to 

talk about the book of Job 

from the Bible.


I was infuriated because it was 

a story about how the 

children that died

were replaced.


Not only replaced but doubled.


It fueled my anger.


There is a spot in our 

hearts that fits the exact 

size and shape of our child

that is gone.


There is no replacement.



Again, another baby 

won’t solve the hurt 

that our agonizing 

hearts are feeling.


And it isn’t fair to 

put that type of stipulation

on our future children.


Would you want to fill those shoes?


“Aren’t you over it by now” 


If you are contemplating 

saying this to a grieving parent 


I would urge you, strongly, to not


This is not compassionate. 

This is not okay


Who are you to give a time limit?


Who are you to tell someone 

if they are over it? 


We will be grieving a lifetime 

for our children. 


That does not make us bad parents. 

On the contrary, 

it makes us damn good ones.


Heidi hits the nail on the head with this post.


I would strongly urge 

anyone thinking of 

commenting about God or 

heaven to wait.

Just wait. 

Especially if the loss just happened.


Our world Just turned upside down.

Shaken to its very core.

We are in shock and we are

debilitated by agony. 

Something that is a parents worst 

nightmare just happened to us. 


We don’t want to hear how our 

child “is in a better place”

or that “God had a plan.


We are most likely 

mad at God.

At least I was. 

And it is all right. 

It is okay. 

His shoulders are big. 

He can handle it.


It is not your job to instill our faith.

Your job is to support us





The fact that V had to endure

this comment is preposterous to me.


Each child is like a snowflake. 

They are different and unique in their own special way.


The thought of another child replacing

the one that has passed away is unfair

to both children. 


Unfair for the child that has 

passed away because that 

discounts their life completely. 


And unfair to the future or living

child because 

they have an impossible burden 

to carry to keep up an unrealistic expectation. 



Take out the word maybe in the sentence. 


How horribly insensitive this is?. 


It is an unneeded comment

and it isn't helpful. 


Scrap this one from your vocabulary. 


The “how” and “why” is irrelevant. 


I know that you think that with 

this knowledge you will be able 

to protect your own children


you are just being nosy. 


Neither of these reasons are 

good enough reasons to ask 

why or how the loss happened. 


It is honestly none of your business.


Take yourself out of the equation.



I have said it before and 

I will say it again. 

All children are

unique and different

in every way. 


Twins are in the exact same category. 


They are two different people. 

Two different children.


There is no “plus” 

In this instance. 

Yes, we are very grateful 

for the one twin that we do have- 


but for every milestone that they 

pass we will always be wondering 

where the other twin would be.


And that doesn’t make us a bad parent. 


That makes us a very good one. 




This isn’t something that you need to say at all.


You cannot pretend.

Although, I would love to pretend that this never happened.


Unfortunately this is my agonizing nightmare. 


And this may still be that for you.

A "nightmare". 

The worst dream you could imagine.

But I am living that.

I can’t pretend even if I wanted to.


There is a hole in our heart 

the exact shape of a child.


This is not okay. None of it. 

You cannot give advice like this 

and expect nothing come of it. 


There is no need to imagine 

anything worse than our child 

leaving this earth. 


It has already happened. 


There is no worse


And with suicide comes

regret and blame. 

Slammed right in the faces

of the parents.

It is unstoppable. 



This is almost as bad as saying,

“Na, na, nah, nah, boo-boo.”


Scrap this idea from your “uplifting list” completely! 




Coming from someone 

who had this particular quote 

posted all over her locker 

and senior high school yearbook, 

This just is not helpful.


Maybe it does happen for a reason? 

But a Mother or father

that is grieving the loss of their 

child does not want to hear that. 


There’s not a good enough reason. 



There is no worse. 


We are living the worst. 

The loss has impacted 

our life, incredibly.

There is no 

“it could’ve been worse.”



It does not help to 

know that they are in a 

better place. 


As Heidi already stated,

"To a grieving parent the 

only place that they should 

be is in our arms."


We are not just another statistic. 


We don’t want to be a number.


We don’t want to hear that it happens commonly with the first.


But to the second part of this comment,

when a total stranger asks you if this is your first child, 


My recommendation is to tell them the truth

To talk about your child. 


You could say “I have ______ children, my first is in heaven.”


Because if we don’t talk 

about our children, 


who will? 


It is our job.

An important job.



I will just let this comment be 

what it is. 

I think you can almost

read the anger and hurt 

in this mother’s words.


Age and being young has 

nothing to do with having more 


That will not and does not negate 

the fact that we have 

endured such a tremendous,

life altering loss.


Grief doesn't know age.


And “I know how you feel?”


Please do not try to reason with us.

This one you should just scrap out the window.


We wouldn’t wish this on 

our worst enemy. 


But to say that you know 

how we feel is discounting

our feelings entirely.

Especially when you have not been through it.


Anything with God and heaven 

is unneeded right now. 


We are in agony. 

We do not need a sign of faith. 

And like I said before, 

it is not your job to give us that sign.


We are mad at God. 

Or at least I was.

And you need to understand 

that that just doesn’t go away 

in a day or two.


But that is between us and our Maker. 

That has nothing to do with you.


“It’s time to move on.” 

...really? Is it? 


Can I ask you what 

makes you the expert on time?


Did you know that time is man-made?


The people that say,

"it is time to move on,"

Say it only because 

they are severely uncomfortable 

with you still mourning the 

death of your child.


Do not let them make you feel guilty

for doing what feels right for you


Grief has no timeline 

and has no time limit.


Time does not make things easier.


But perhaps gives you a little bit of 

cushion around the wound. 


If you do not know

what to say to a grieving parent,

I would urge you to say 

nothing at all.


Just be there. 


Simply be there. 


We don’t want you to reason 

with us or say that you 

know we are going through.


We simply want you to take 

our hand and 

be with us in this storm.









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