Child bereavement and loss
Child bereavement and loss is probably the most hurtful loss there is and most of us can’t escape it. Whether our loss was a grandparent early in our lives or a parent, later in life , when we’re an adult, or even if the loss is outside of these norms, the numbing, motivation sapping effects of bereavement are difficult to cope with, we can often feel that part of us has died too.
The biggest impact of loss and bereavement is often when it involves a child bereavement, or someone whose life has been cut short or tragically taken, the loss or death of a child is especially difficult to deal with. Many of the people who contact me for online counselling talk about a child bereavement as not being fair, or how unjust it seems that a young life has been extinguished.
Equally when most people try to comfort those who have lost a child, the right words just don’t come to mind easily and often that makes them stay away, avoiding the issue, too often that’s seen as avoiding the bereaved sand adds further to the loss.
Here I’d like to give some words of comfort and some of the practical tips I’ve picked up during my years of providing online counselling to many who have not known how to respond to bereft friends and family, I hope you find the following Do’s and Don’ts useful.
Child bereavement Don’ts:
- Don’t panic and quickly change the subject when they mention their child, if they mention their child – they need to talk.
- Don’t stop mentioning their child’s name because you are scared of reminding them of their loss – they are never going to forget it.
- Don’t talk too much about your own children and grandchildren.
- Don’t presume to understand their grief because you have experienced the death of an elderly relative or even a pet – losing a child is different.
- Don’t tell them what they should feel or ought to do. There is no timetable for grieving – each person has to do it in his or her own way.
- Don’t confuse grief and loss with depression – there are no pills to treat grief.
- Don’t remind them that they have other children – one cannot replace the other.
- Don’t suggest that the death of a child brings parents together – sometimes the death of a child can wreck a relationship.
- Don’t expect them to want to attend social functions – the small talk often focuses on family.
Avoiding the above statements will help your friend or family member to feel able to talk to you and therefore continue a healthy grieving process, one where you can really support them this difficult time.
Child bereavement Do’s
- Do try to understand that birthdays, days when families usually spend time together (Christmas Day, Mothering Day, Father’s Day etc.) are usually very sad times. Sometimes the days before and the gloom ahead can be depressing.
- Do stay around after the funeral, many people avoid bereft families for a while and it can be more difficult to re-engage after a time away.
- Do consider the needs of the rest of the family too, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and partners of the deceased, they too may need support.
- Do reassure them that they did everything that they could in the care they gave to their child and that their child felt loved, give examples if you can.
- Do share your sadness and hurt at what happened to their child, and encourage them to talk about him or her as often as they want to with you.
- Do share that you don’t have the words and that you don’t know what to say, but that you hope just by being there with them, a few words, a gentle touch, even sitting in silence, will be some comfort.
Doing these things will help the bereaved know who is strong enough to help them through this time and help them know that you want to help.
Being there for them in a continues way, regular rather than frequent is ideal, make use of technology too, an email or an sms or a skype call all have their benefits too.
If you feel that online counselling could help you to support a grieving parent or in fact help the parent directly, please don’t hesitate to contact me for support.
You can see more about bereavement and loss at my dedicated page https://www.counsellors-online.co.uk/bereavement-grief-loss-counselling-online/
Professional Online Counsellor and Online Life Coach Paul Parkin
I am an experienced, professional online counsellor, with over 11 years experience working as a counsellor and life coach offering confidential, affordable counselling online to clients anywhere in the world. To book a 50 min session click here.
By living a simple life and working from home I have reduced my costs enabling me to reduce the session fees for clients, making counselling online more accessible to people seeking counselling online.