Advice on helping a friend who has suffered the loss of a child.
So, your friend has lost a child and you want to comfort them, but you don’t know what to say. Many people avoid talking with those who have suffered a loss, because it doesn’t seem as if there is a right thing to say. A true friend may not know what to say, but they know it is just as important to know what not to say. Here are the five top things that people say to try to give comfort, which are not right things to say.
1. It will be okay. While saying this is an attempt to comfort your friend in their grief and it may eventually be true, after a parent has lost a child they feel as if the bottom has fallen out of their world and nothing will ever be okay again. It will not be okay. Their child is dead. It takes a long time before things will seem even halfway normal for them. Allow them that time and don’t try to tell them its okay, when it really is not.
2. They’re in a better place. Even for parents of very strong faith, this isn’t really helpful. Although it may provide some comfort to visualize their child in happily in heaven, they still are not here, where the parent can hug them and interact with them. There is a huge chunk missing from your friend’s life and the only thing that can fill it is the child that was lost. This is like telling someone, “It’s too bad that you couldn’t go to Vegas with your friends, but think of all the fun they’re having without you.”
3. God has a purpose for everything, even if we can’t see it. Believe me, a parent who just lost a child will not be able to see any good purpose for their child to be dead. They are hurting, as is everyone else to whom the child was significant. Even if you could point out that by their child’s death the whole world was saved from destruction, (which you can’t), it wouldn’t make the pain that they’re feeling any better. Their faith in God may already be wavering, and thinking that God has a higher purpose for causing them to suffer the loss of that which is most important to them is not comforting.
Published in: Family