Sunday, April 26, 2009

What NOT To Say To Bereaved Parents

When on your grief journey, you may hear people say things to you that are not appropriate at all. Perhaps that person was only trying to comfort you or has never lost a child and has no idea what you are feeling or going through. Certain phrases and sentences to others may seem like a way to show they care and are thinking about you, but all it really does is make you mad.

Some of those phrases and my reactions (in italic type) to myself or others include:

“Your child is in a better place.” No, she’s not. She should be right here with me.

“Aren’t you over it yet?” I’ll never get over this. In time I may be able to learn to live with the loss, but I’ll never get over it completely, nor will I ever forget.

“I know how you feel. My dog died last year.” Please don’t compare your dog to my child. You may have loved your dog very much, but a dog is not a human being, born and nurtured from your body

“You can have more children.” Maybe I can, maybe I can’t; maybe I can’t bear the thought of ever going through this again, but having another child would not be to replace the one I lost.

“God never gives you more than you can bear.” Why did God do this to me at all? Am I being punished for some reason?

“Time will heal your hurt.” Time may ease the pain somewhat, but heal me completely?
Never! I will always ache for my child and what we have both lost
“I understand.” No you don’t, unless you have also lost a child. Nothing compares. A child should never die before a parent.

“At least she isn’t suffering.” She is suffering. I am suffering. She had so much more living to do, things to accomplish. No matter what would have happened to her physically, she would have dealt with it and continued living a full life.

“Crying won’t bring her back.” Crying is a healthy emotion to cleanse your body physically and mentally. No, I won’t get her back, but to hold back emotions is known to cause more damage. If I want to scream and rant, that is okay also.

“It’s time to get rid of her clothes and belongings.” When I feel it is the right time I’ll take some action. It could be a month, a year or even 5 years. I will do it in my own time. I will never get rid of everything. There are some items I could never part with.

Be patient with these people and don’t let these common phrases get to you. DO try to let others know what you personally think is not appropriate to say to a bereaved parent, whether it is you or someone else.

Note: In my next blog, I’ll tell you what I believe is helpful for parents on a grief journey and what those who are friends and relatives should try to do for the bereaved.


  1. Thank you Sandy for all your writings on The death of a child.
    Since the last time we talked I went ahead and opened up my own grief board for parents and Grandparents.I would be very honored if you would visit and even join if you can.
    Thank you again for all you do
    Louise[Keren's mom]

  2. Comparing any 2 deaths is unfair, whether it's the death of a grandma, another child, parent, friend, spouse, or dog. It's the comparison and shift of focus onto oneself that is insensitive, not the death of a beloved dog.