9 Things NOT to Say to a Bereaved Parent, and 8 Things to Say

Most people have the best intentions when they are trying to comfort you while you’re grieving.  I know that!  However, sometimes the words just don’t translate well.  If you said something like this to me, please know, I’m not upset that you said this!  I know your intentions were good!

You’ll be a great mom someday!  Guess what, I am a mom!  A great on at that!  Just because my baby didn’t come home from the hospital with me doesn’t mean I’m not a mom.  If a child died at age 6, does that mean that woman is no longer a mother?  I created this being, I carried him, and I will always be his mom!  

You’re a spring chicken, you’ll have more kids.  First off, I wanted this child!  More children cannot replace the one you’ve lost.  Just because I’m young or just because I can have more kids, doesn’t make me feel better about the one I lost.  Secondly, there’s no guarantee that I’ll have more kids.  You don’t know if it took a month, a year, or 5 rounds of IVF to have this child.

Something went wrong, babies don’t just die.  There was no explanation of my son’s death during labor.  Nothing went wrong, nothing could have been done differently.  And if something could have been done differently, I will never know because that’s not the reality of what happened and I refuse to dwell on the “what ifs”.

If something was wrong with him, it’s better it happened when it did than finding him in his crib a few days later.  Either scenario is awful, but I would have loved to have seen my baby alive and interacting with me.  Even if it was just for a few short days.

Are you going to sue the doctors?  I had a few people ask me this.  I thought it was such a silly questions and frankly, none of their business if we were planning to sue.  This is so irrelevant to the death of my child and felt more like a bit a gossip they wanted to spread if the answer was “yes”.

I know how you feel.  No one truly knows how you feel even if they’ve been in the same situation.  No death, no grief is equal.  Tread lightly when telling people you know how they feel, every situation is different.  However, it is comforting to know that people share similar grief.  I find comfort in knowing that I’m not in this alone.

I can’t imagine the pain you feel.  Please don’t imagine it, it’s awful!  And please don’t remind me how painful it is.

You’re so strong, I would never be that strong!  When life throws things like this at you, you have no choice.  And quite honestly, I feel weak, I cry at random things, and I yearn for my baby.  I don’t feel strong, nor do I feel the need to be strong.

Something similar happened to so and so, but their baby lived.  It is in no way comforting to know that something similar happened to someone else, but their baby lived and mine died.  If you have a similar story like this, please keep it to yourself.

Instead try letting the person know that you care for them and the person who died.

I’m sorry.  Period.

You’ve been in my prayers.  Some don’t like this because people have different religions, but to me, it felt good knowing that I was in people’s prayers.

I think of you often.  It was nice for me to know that people were thinking of me during this hard time in my life.

Can I see pictures?  This was the best for me!!  I only had 2 friends who actually asked to see photos.  Most of the time I was asking people if they wanted to see pictures.  I love showing pictures of my baby to people, I don’t get the opportunity to do that enough.  He’s perfect and I will never tire of showing people how cute he is or looking at them myself!

He is beautiful/precious/handsome/adorable/etc.  This hits me so hard when it is said to me!  Yes, people initially told me after I showed them pictures, but one friend did out of the blue.  It was about two months after Joshua died and we were out to eat with some friends and their baby.  I was oogling over their baby and said, “he’s so cute!”  And she immediately responded, “Joshua was beautiful too!”  She couldn’t have said anything more meaningful to me.

He was very special.  Thank you, I think so too!

I’m here.  Though this is usually a passive way of helping people, it’s nice to hear.

I remember.  People are there immediately following a death but it seems they quickly dive back into their busy lives.  To a bereaved parent, this can come across as forgetting the baby who has died.  Weeks, months, years down the road, mention the baby.  Say the baby’s name.  Remember key days and reach out.  You have no idea what an impact this makes!

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One thought on “9 Things NOT to Say to a Bereaved Parent, and 8 Things to Say

  1. I spoke to an elderly lady shortly after my loss, She too had a still born child at birth. and many years later she lost another son at the age of 30. She told me that the pain was the same. that both where her children and loosing the one whom she had spend 30 years with was no more painful than losing the one whom she only got to carry for 9 months. Remember you are also grieving the loss of all the dreams you had for your son, all that you were looking forward to and all the first-times you never got to experience. you ARE a mother, a very special mother, and you will always be a mother. I would love to see a photo of your baby boy even though I don’t know you.

    May you also feel comfort knowing that Joshua never had to ever experience pain or suffering or heartache or fear, He never has to go through stress or abuse or any of the evil things that are happening in this world. He left this world without a single sin. Pure and blames less and innocent. a perfect angel. all my love , Michelle

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