Sunday, August 28, 2011


There are many “don’ts” in the eyes of a newly bereaved parent. I have heard many of them myself as the years progress, but some of these, written in a TCF newsletter recently, bear repeating and hopefully, once and for all, bring the point home to friends and relatives who want to know how to act and react to your loss. Please share them with others.

DON’T use the word “closure;” there is no such thing as far as the death of my child…that word is an insult to all people grieving a loss.

DON’T tell me to get over “it”…my loved one was not an “it”… I’m forever changed and won’t “get over it;” be prepared to get to know the ‘new’ me. I am on a never-ending journey that has been forced on me. I did not choose it; I did not ask to be on it. It is a journey that lasts forever.

DON’T be put out if I don’t accept your company because I do appreciate the offer. I’m just a mess right now and not good company.

DON’T talk about your children, their honors, their colds, their problems. It just makes me feel cheated/sad/angry. Let time pass and perhaps I can be more responsive at a later date.

DON’T put a shelf life on my grief or a time limit on when you think I should be over grieving. I am doing everything possible that I think I need to do every day.

DON’T use words such as ‘lost’, ‘gone,’ or ‘passed on;’ Just use the word ‘died.’

DON”T tell me about the losses or the coping styles of others. I can only take in my own story at this stage. I don’t even want to watch the news as everything else except my loss seems so trivial.

DON’T be afraid to look me in the eye; I haven’t got a contagious disease.

DON”T change the subject; if I didn’t want to talk of my child, I would not mention him/her.

DON”T push me into making any big decisions and changing too much in the first year.

DON”T panic when I begin to sob uncontrollably and don’t seek to cheer me up or calm me down prematurely. Tears are often very healing and this is something worth crying about.

DON”T say inane things like my child is in heaven or in a better place. I want them here with me!

DON”T try to fix me; most people adapt to loss by ventilating their loss in an accepting and validating environment…so don’t suffocate my ventilating by avoiding the subject.

DON”T try to accelerate the process of my bereavement. Be assured I am doing all I can to work through my shock and grief…just be very patient with me.

DON’T just stay for the funeral and then move on; you might learn a lot yourself from choosing to connect with me ‘little and often.’


  1. This is very good. Thanks for posting this.

  2. Coming late to the party: In June we went to a family wedding, and felt a desperate need to talk about our son and how he died with our family. They were incredibly supportive "long distance" -- they live 1500 miles away and were not physically here during any part of his illness. We kept dropping hints and bringing him up and they all changed the subject!!! No one would talk about him with us. It was very frustrating