Sunday, August 12, 2012

Pursuing Ways To Help Others

One bereaved mother I spoke to at the Compassionate Friends conference recently spoke about how she actively pursues ways to help other bereaved parents in her hometown. What she said made a lot of sense, and I’d like to pass along her suggestions to you.

First of all, she uses the newspaper a lot. She reads the obituaries and when she finds a child who died, she sits down and writes letters to those parents, telling them how sorry she is and explaining that there is hope after their loss to move on with their lives. She may even make some suggestions, depending on how much she finds out about the child. If she can’t find the person’s address, she can usually get their email and contact them that way.

With a special grief calendar in hand, she writes down the anniversary of every child she knows who has died and on that day contacts the parents by either calling or sending a thinking of you card. Parents don’t want anyone to forget their child and this soft reminder that someone out there cares is very comforting.

She even goes out of her way to visit the bereaved, bringing a cake, candy or flowers on the anniversary of the child’s death. She said she finds that bringing a rose bush to plant so that the parents can watch the roses grow gives them hope for their future also.

Parents are always saying that others don’t understand what we are going through and it is important to teach them how to act and react to our grief so as to be helpful, not hurtful in comments and actions. In her community she even started a group for bereaved parents to show them that, indeed, we are different people than we were when our child was alive. She encourages others to find new goals in their lives. What was once important may no longer have any meaning to us. Some days may be overwhelming and we may cry in front of others. The best thing others can do, and we can encourage them to do so, is to give us a hug and know that one day we will be whole again. These are some of the ideas she talks about in her grief group.

By doing these things to help others, she believes she is also helping herself, for who can best understand how a bereaved parent feels more than another bereaved parent. Perhaps some of these ideas will work for you too.

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