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Old 09-01-2013, 03:37 PM
Status: "Even better than okay" (set 10 days ago)
 
Location: Coastal New Jersey
51,245 posts, read 50,539,435 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cliffie View Post
There's nothing you can say to make her feel better, but you can ask her if she needs any concrete help to get her through -- a few casseroles? Visits at the house? Does she need anyone to run intereference for her so she can get some privacy? (All the hugging and la de da can get kind of overwhelming whenm you need to lie on the floor and sob by yourself.)
I wouldn't do that, either. I read something like this not long ago that asking means nothing--either do something or don't do anything. Nobody's going to stop in the middle of a wake, especially for a dead child, and say, "oh yeah, could you pick up my dry-cleaning tomorrow before the funeral for me?"

If you really want to do something, just do it, without asking. Make some food, or find out from a family member who is a little removed from the intense grief what might be helpful. And maybe bring that casserole over in two weeks or a month when most other people have moved on with their lives.
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Old 09-01-2013, 03:38 PM
Status: "Even better than okay" (set 10 days ago)
 
Location: Coastal New Jersey
51,245 posts, read 50,539,435 times
Reputation: 60115
Quote:
Originally Posted by cpg35223 View Post
Anything beyond "I'm so sorry for your loss" would be wasted words. Maybe adding the offer to run errands for the family. But if you're tempted to say anything beyond that, don't.

If you say, "I can't begin to imagine how you feel," you'll annoy them. Of course you can't, unless you've lost a child yourself.

If you start mentioning how wonderful the dead child was, it just deepens their sense of loss, giving them yet another reason to grieve.

If you start in with some ready-made bromide about God, Christ, or Heaven, shut the hell up immediately. That's for the parent to sort out.

But, most of all, remember that the pain of loss goes on well after the funeral is over and the thank-you notes for the flowers and the deliveries of food have been written and mailed. It will go on for months and years, most likely for a lifetime. For parents are not meant to bury their children.

So it will be the small kindnesses, the ones that take place a month or two from now that will be most remembered. For they will show that you are still thinking of the parent long after the world has gone on with its business.
Yes. I once heard a horror story about some idiot of a woman who told a Jewish mother who had lost her baby that her child was safe in the arms of Jesus.
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Old 09-01-2013, 06:37 PM
 
Location: NW Indiana
39,362 posts, read 14,435,507 times
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My church friend's 13-year-old son died as the result of a dirt bike accident the day before Easter this year. It seemed the best thing to say was, "I'm so sorry." More words were unnecessary.

OP, your presence alone will say volumes and will be appreciated.

Edited to add: I just noticed that this thread was started yesterday and the memorial service would have been today.

.
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Old 09-02-2013, 03:13 AM
 
8,440 posts, read 10,719,369 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PJSinger View Post
My church friend's 13-year-old son died as the result of a dirt bike accident the day before Easter this year. It seemed the best thing to say was, "I'm so sorry." More words were unnecessary.

OP, your presence alone will say volumes and will be appreciated.

Edited to add: I just noticed that this thread was started yesterday and the memorial service would have been today.

.
Despite the service being over I believe there is merit in continuing this discussion. It would be great if the OP would post what happened.

Many of us have commented about hurtful, intrusive or total lack of communication we have experienced. If those who don't know how to respond to parents I think it's an opportunity for us to learn from each other so we can hopeful say more appropriate comments than we might make otherwise.

I've had two siblings lose children. One lost babies 2 years apart. The other lost a disabled child who lived many years. I know circumstances of each death, the emotional well-being of each parent and other factors all should be considered.

Parents are people too. And that means they are all different. What one finds comforting another may not.

For years I had special wreaths made for my 3 nieces buried by each other. One sibling also responded within 24 hrs. I never heard from my other sibling and wondered if I should continue. One day out of nowhere the oldest child of the other sibling told their family when they saw the wreaths.. It was positive, but for some reason those parents never thought about saying anything to me.
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My take home point sometimes even blood relatives don't know what to say or do. Different parental personalities and the circumstances of how they lost their children.

MSR
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Old 09-02-2013, 09:19 AM
 
3,893 posts, read 9,364,169 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mtn. States Resident View Post
Despite the service being over I believe there is merit in continuing this discussion.
MSR
I totally agree. I'm a grief-support author. I write and speak about what we can do to support someone through loss, as well as what we should never say/do. I have done hundreds of interviews and it still surprises me how we continue to get it wrong. Why? Because we don't like to talk about it. How can we improve at something we avoid?

Never under-estimate the value of being there. Whether it's at the service, by mail/email, or stopping at their desk to listen, acknowledging the death is so important.

There's no one right way to offer support, but ignoring it happened is nearly universally painful.

Glad this conversation is taking place here. May you all help someone who is grieving, and may those who died never be forgotten.
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Old 09-02-2013, 10:48 AM
 
766 posts, read 1,226,282 times
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The service was last night. The church was packed, especially with teenagers trying to come to terms with the sudden loss of their young friend.

The family was distraught but held it together (mostly) for their eulogies.

They had 7 people give their memories of this young man. 3 of his best friends, a father of one of the best friends, his 2 sisters and then his Dad. All their stories were funny, touching, and finally sad.

I think the Dad's eulogy was the saddest of all. He said he will never have another son and that losing a child is the worst thing anyone can go through. He cried and to see a Father crying like that and then pulling himself together to finish his thoughts, is just heartbreaking.

I took everyone's advice and hugged the Mom, said I'm so sorry, and that was it. I think that any more than that would have been too much. It was enough and told her how I felt without coming off philosophical or even possibly insincere, because I don't know what she is going through really. I couldn't get near the Dad, too many people.


The family has a lot of support, a large family, and I know they will get through this though it will take time.

I'm worried about the family but also about the young teenagers who have suffered a loss of a fun-loving friend. This kid had a smile that was infectious. Who is going to help these kids come to terms with the loss of one of their own?
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Old 09-02-2013, 11:07 AM
 
18,856 posts, read 30,455,105 times
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One really nice gesture, if you know the family well enough, is to offer to take the younger kids out to the zoo, or something. It is really hard to have a "Mom Face" when you just want to have grief. And the younger siblings, really do need to just get out, and do something normal...

That is probably one of the nicest things anyone can offer for a parent who lost a child.

Last edited by jasper12; 09-02-2013 at 11:08 AM.. Reason: edit
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Old 09-02-2013, 12:09 PM
 
Location: Down the rabbit hole
847 posts, read 891,802 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by akm4 View Post
I totally agree. I'm a grief-support author. I write and speak about what we can do to support someone through loss, as well as what we should never say/do. I have done hundreds of interviews and it still surprises me how we continue to get it wrong. Why? Because we don't like to talk about it. How can we improve at something we avoid?

Never under-estimate the value of being there. Whether it's at the service, by mail/email, or stopping at their desk to listen, acknowledging the death is so important.

There's no one right way to offer support, but ignoring it happened is nearly universally painful.

Glad this conversation is taking place here. May you all help someone who is grieving, and may those who died never be forgotten.
This is all very good advice. Though it can be uncomfortable and difficult, it's important to acknowledge the loss. At the time my wife I and lost our twin baby boyss, I was working as a the lead foreman of a construction company with about 25 guys under me. When I finally went back to work after a couple of months off, there was a part of me that broke the workers into two groups. The ones who came up to me or had called me and expressed sympathy and the ones who hadn't.

It wasn't an intentional division and I wasn't even aware of it at the time but the relationship I had previously with the guys who hadn't offered any words at all, was changed forever. I suppose in my mind, however irrational, they became lesser people to me. It also created (for lack of a better term) an invisible tension between those guys and myself because I could feel their discomfort around me. It was as if I'd suddenly grown an extra set of ears and nobody wanted to point it out.

The things that were done for us still stand out in my memory. I'll always be in debt to the folks that brought us food after the deaths. Eating was the last thing on our mind as was shopping so that was a huge help. The gifts we got commemorating the boys lives were very important as well. A quilt from a friend with their pictures sew in, a set of sea rocks with dragonflies and their names carved into the stone, even the masses people had said for them (though we aren't Christians) meant a lot.

..........I got up and walked away for a minute and lost where ever else I was going with this. So I'll end by reiterating what I said in an earlier post. Keep the sympathies short and simple, never offer some explanation of "God's will" and lend an ear to just listen if the parents want to talk. If they don't, let them be, they'll talk if and when they're ready.

There's no "pat" answer on how to deal with grieving parents but I hope that by sharing our experiences, I've offered a little insight into the parent's perspective.
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Old 09-02-2013, 02:43 PM
 
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I had 2 brothers that died. The first was a car accident. That was harder to accept because it was so sudden. Mom said she was afraid everyone would forget him. I mention this his 4 best friends. About a month later they stopped by my house and asked me if it would upset Mom if they each sent her a card on his birthday. I said it would be a great idea. Almost 25 yrs later they still do it and she loves it. She gets 4 cards and 4 short notes about what they remember about him. With the 2'nd brother his death was not so much of a shock. He had a lot of health problems. A few weeks after he died I called my parents and could hear my mother crying loudly in the background. I told Dad I would be there in 5 minutes. I started telling her stories about all the pranks he pulled on me when I was a kid, about 8. He let me think I accidently killed him, he let me think I drowned him, he put a real stuffed bird in my bed so I felt it on my leg when I got in, and the time he let his 2 pet lizzards in my room loose. These were stories she had not heard before. Anyway by time I left 2 hours later she was crying because she was laughing so hard. It's hard to comfort a mother or father lost a child. And I agree with other posters who advised. If you don't know what to say, just say I'm so sorry.
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Old 09-02-2013, 02:56 PM
Status: "Even better than okay" (set 10 days ago)
 
Location: Coastal New Jersey
51,245 posts, read 50,539,435 times
Reputation: 60115
Quote:
Originally Posted by luckygirl15 View Post
The service was last night. The church was packed, especially with teenagers trying to come to terms with the sudden loss of their young friend.

The family was distraught but held it together (mostly) for their eulogies.

They had 7 people give their memories of this young man. 3 of his best friends, a father of one of the best friends, his 2 sisters and then his Dad. All their stories were funny, touching, and finally sad.

I think the Dad's eulogy was the saddest of all. He said he will never have another son and that losing a child is the worst thing anyone can go through. He cried and to see a Father crying like that and then pulling himself together to finish his thoughts, is just heartbreaking.

I took everyone's advice and hugged the Mom, said I'm so sorry, and that was it. I think that any more than that would have been too much. It was enough and told her how I felt without coming off philosophical or even possibly insincere, because I don't know what she is going through really. I couldn't get near the Dad, too many people.


The family has a lot of support, a large family, and I know they will get through this though it will take time.

I'm worried about the family but also about the young teenagers who have suffered a loss of a fun-loving friend. This kid had a smile that was infectious. Who is going to help these kids come to terms with the loss of one of their own?
I think it will help them mature. They've just been smacked with a dose of real life, and they will probably talk amongst themselves about it in the way that only kids that age can. Most kids in this country are insulated from such losses, but in other places (and in previous times here), children don't/didn't make it to adulthood without experiencing losses of their peers.
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