How can I help grieving parents?
If you are looking for some guidance as to how to show your love and support to parents grieving the death of an infant or young child, consider one or more of the following ideas:
(1) Pray: Pray that God would use this suffering in the lives of the parents to be drawn closer in their relationship with Jesus Christ; or, if one or both of the parents do not yet know Jesus Christ, to be drawn into a relationship with Him. Pray that the marriage would be sustained through this tragedy and that no blame or disconnect would occur between the parents. Pray that the parents would realize their own limitations and reach out and seek the assistance of others, including friends, family as well as professional grief counseling.
(2) Communicate: Take the initiative to communicate with the parents even when they don’t seem to be communicating with you in return. Don’t stop communicating with the parents just because you may not be sure what to say to the parents. Send the parents an email or a card with an encouraging note, or pick up the phone and let them know that you are thinking about them and praying for them. More thoughts about what to say to the parents.
(3) Remember the Child: If you know the child’s birthday or the date of the child’s death, send the parents a card on the anniversary of these important dates, letting them know that you are remembering them and praying for them on that day. When you talk to the parents, do not be afraid to bring up memories you have of the deceased child. It’s OK to talk to the parents about the deceased child. Parents live with the constant reminder that their child is no longer alive; you don’t need to be concerned that, in bringing up memories or talking about the deceased child, you will somehow increase their level of pain.
(4) Enter Into the Parent’s Grief. After the death of their child, grieving parents cannot continue to live life as usual, as if nothing happened. Similarly, you should not relate to the grieving parents as if nothing happened. The very worst way to relate to a grieving parent is to pretend their child never lived or that their child’s death never occurred. If you care enough for the parents, you should enter into grief with them.
(5) Bring Over a Meal: Especially in the immediate aftermath of the child’s death, preparing a meal is often too difficult of a task for the parents. Having home cooked meals prepared and provided is one of the best ways to provide practical help to a grieving family. In order to keep the family from feeling overwhelmed by offerings of meals, consider setting up a calendar with planned days and offer to manage the calendar for the family. How to make arrangements for bringing a meal.
(6) Provide Practical Help: In the immediate aftermath of the death, find ways to be of practical assistance to the parents. Don’t tell the parents “Call me if you need anything.” Especially right after the child’s death, the parents are not of a frame of mind to even know what they need, much less of a mind to call you for it. If you think of some way that you can help them, or if you see a need in their life, bring the idea to them or, based on your comfort level, just go ahead and surprise them with the opportunity. Some ideas for being of practical assistance.
(7) Provide God-Centered Resources: If you have a favorite Bible promise that relates to suffering, write it down and send it in an email or note to the parents. If you have a favorite book, song, sermon, or music album that would provide the parents with an opportunity to worship God through their suffering, provide that to them. Even if the parents won’t read the book or listen to the music, they will appreciate the fact that you were thinking of them. LINK TO BOOKS & RESOURCES.
NEXT - Providing Practical Assistance