Today’s theme for Capture Your Grief is Empathy. What people who love or know the bereaved can do and say to help them on their journey. We talk a lot about people saying the wrong things and trust me people are always saying the wrong thing. I try not to hold it against them but it does hurt and it’s hard to hear. I mean I can’t tell you how many people have told me everything happens for a reason. They love to point out that my daughter’s name is Reason and say “see she was here for a reason and she died for a reason!” Would she still be here if her name was Amanda? No she wouldn’t. Stop using her name to tell me everything is okay. It’s super frustrating.
I digress. I’m gonna talk about words and actions that have helped or can help. If you meet someone new and they tell you they’ve lost a child don’t be afraid to ask about their baby. If you have a friend who loses a child do the same. You won’t make them sad, I promise. Ask to see pictures, ask their name, ask about how old they were. I love to talk about Reason, nothing makes me happier. Some parents don’t want to talk about their babies, that’s okay too. When my daughter was here people told me all the time that I was a good mom, I still need to hear that. I know I was the best mom I could be but hearing it from other people means the world to me. Remember them one their child’s birthday and death day. Remember them on mother’s and father’s day. Even without a living child I’m still a mother and I need to be reminded of that sometimes. One of the best things someone has done for me was sending me mother’s day cards and my family and friends celebrating my daughter’s birthday.
Don’t try to fix a bereaved parent just tell them that what happened sucks and you’re so sorry that it happened to them. Offer an ear and a hug, being present means more than anything. Be patient with a loss parent. I know it can be hard to watch someone struggle but you have to let them struggle. We will make mistakes and we may become someone you don’t really want to be around. Sometimes we will say the wrong thing please don’t write us off because of that, I’ve gotten written off an awful lot in the last year. If you can stick by us though our darkest times you will get to rejoice with us in the brighter days ahead.
Be gentle with us, love us, let us cry and break down, cry with us if you feel the urge, smile with us when we find our smile. Laugh with us, just don’t try to fix us. You can’t and that’s okay. Empathy is the greatest gift you can give to the bereaved.