Supporting a Friend When They Have Lost a Child

The loss of a child is heartbreaking, friends become the backbone of support or walk away. What do you do? How can you help? What happens in the end?

The day you walk into the room and your child is not there, the clothes are gone, no longer in disarray around the floor lodging with empty packets, dirty plates and your best crystal glasses, that day is the day your heart sinks lower than ever. No more teenage door slamming, shouting accusations of not caring or demands for cash or car keys, no more, only silence, times when you are alone, your home is clean and tidy can be lonely times, your child has left home. If you are one of the lucky ones, the washing will return for a long weekend and your child for an overnight stay. If you are not, if your child never returns, how in goodness do you cope?

No the question is genuine not a guide, not a how to, but a genuine, how on earth do you cope? The pain of the empty nest syndrome is bad enough but at least those who go through it are prepared for the event but to lose a child through death is something every parent dreads.

The question asked in this article however is, what if it is your friend who suffers the tragic emotion of child loss? What is your role? What do you do? You loved that child too, your pain is real but where is your support and how do you support?

The parent may feel betrayed, robbed and all the emotions they deserve to have but what about you, the friend? Within minutes your whole relationship changes, you look at your friend with pitying eyes and awkwardness, you cry together and the putting on the kettle actions take over, then you watch while family of your friend take over, they don’t know her but they have the right of family. What do or can you do?

There is nothing you can do but be there, quietly putting the kettle on, opening the door to streams of caring, well meaning people, be there to hold your friend when they can no longer stand or be strong, be there to take the torrent of abuse, the accusations that you don’t deserve children as you go out to work, you just have to be there, you are a friend, you love this person, despite their declarations of hatred, they are part of you, their loss is pain, their grief is raw and you watch with no cure, helpless.

In time the grief is not so raw, your friend returns to reality, to face the future, to face life without, life without all the things you are blessed with, your friend then may look at you through different eyes.

Whatever the future your friend paves for you and your relationship is a future you have to cope with, knowing you were there during a time when your friend needed you is all you might walk away with, be strong and know you did what a true friend should do, you were there.

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Published in: Family


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  1. The loss of a child has to be the greateast pain any human can ever experience.

  2. What a beautiful and concerned piece. Thank you.

  3. You wrote an excellent piece. And all to often that truly happens when one friend looses their child and you have yours. Grief and pain can have such a strong grip that there is no room for true friendship. And all to sadly it ends. So the death of a child can be a two-fold death. Loss of the child and loss of a friend. A true friend will be hurt naturally but at the same time can understand.

  4. This is a wonderful article. This is such a depressing and deep issue that most people would probably shy away from, but this is when your friend would need you the most. Nicely written.

  5. I know from experience how hard it is to know exactly what to say and do. You try so hard to be of help and comfort and in spite of everything you will put your foot in your mouth. All you can do is be there for her as long as she will let you.

  6. Thank you all for your kind words about my work here, it is very sadly something that I have painfully had to deal with twice, my neighbour lost her daughter aged 4 and my Godson was killed aged 20, both families are now lost to me through their grief, it pains me that I held my Godson before his father at his birth and now they do not return any form of communication,I do not begrudge them the loss of friendship as I know they have to live each day the best they can. I know they are all well as I follow their lives and should it be needed I will be there again. Thank you for reading and commenting

  7. I loved the piece so sorry for the reason you wrote it. Please check out my piece Kyli’s Song regarding the death of my 2 1/2 mth old granddaughter. She died of SIDS in 2001. I know you an relate somewhat. Don’t fret maybe the families will come back to you. My granddaughter died in my apartment in my bedroom asleep with my daughter. I was in the other room asleep. After she was pronounce dead and we said our goodbyes, we left the hospital. I needed my daughter more than ever and thought she would need me the same. It was just the opposite. She shutdown from me. It took months for us to get close again. Now a few years later and we are close again, as we talk about it from time to time she said it was too hard to be around me as I was a reminder of Kyli, since the three of us were inseperable. Anyhoo here are too pieces I wrote that are related to the loss of a child. Hope they help. Hugs! MC

  8. Oh, and one more thing. From those of us that have had that terrible loss, it hurt just to breathe. I know it did for me for at least a year. So when you thought you put your foot in your mouth, we didn’t mind, we probably didn’t even notice. We loved the fact that we meant enough for you to love us enough to take the time to be there. Even though we might not have acted like it at the time….Remember, at the time we didn’t know how to act or react ourselves, let alone respond to something you didn’t even know how to say. Remember the old saying, “Those hardest to love, need our love the most.!” Hang in there, hopefully in time they will come back to you, when they once again learn to breathe.

  9. Oh Mary thank you x

  10. I lost a child at birth, a boy! obviously it wouldn’t compare to the bond your friend would have had with their child but it certainly broke me to pieces, i wrote a poem called Baby Boy as i am still grieving, such a painful experience thankyou for sharing. I know it must have been difficult to write.

  11. Our family lost my god-daughter at 18 months old. I was so worried about my sister that I went into what I call survival mode. I was there at her house as much as I could be, and I called her every single day for months. I let her talk, I let her cry. She has another little girl and I kept reminding her how much she needed her. I remembered after one conversation I realized that it was the first time she didn’t cry. It’s been 3 years and she is functioning but the saddness is there and I always try to be supportive. I miss the baby too.

    Now I have a question for any of you. My friend lost her 9 year old daughter to Leukemia a few months ago. This was her only daughter and she is divorced. I am a single mom with an only child as well, a boy about a year older, so it kills me to think of what she is going through because honestly, I don’t know how she even functions. She is so sad. Fortunately she is back to work, but as she tells me it’s the only place she does function. She says she goes home, she cries, overeats, sleeps, watches t.v. and hasn’t changed her daughter’s room. She does go to therapy thank God. But how do I help her? Prayer is important, maybe th most important. I can’t tell her to be strong for another child, I can’t tell her to cling to her husband/boyfriend…and I even feel awkward about mentioning my child because of how it might make her feel.

    Today, she had a particularly emotional day. I called her twice. Only voicemails back and forth…but I don’t even know how to help her. It’s so, so, heartbreaking.

  12. Linda just be there for her x

  13. I just turned 19 my best friend and really the only person i have is 25 she has 3 children. She had a baby boy and had two months of leave from wrk starting the day she had him. Her first day back at wwrk he past of sids. It was a nightmare day. Its been amth and i have quit my job and given up almost everything to be here for her and with her and to watch the other three kids while shes at wrk.Its so hard to see someone you love so much and you feel helpless on how to help when its your one desire to help them and ease their pain. She is starting to shut down again, she doesnt show her emotions much just the way she is but im still here and hoping for the best.

  14. Oh Alexis, I am sorry for the loss of your friend’s child. You must all feel heart broken. Just be there for her, that is all you can do. Be strong.

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