Tips to Help You Express Condolences for the Loss of a Child

One of the most awkward situations you may find yourself in is talking to someone who has recently lost a child. Words seem so inadequate at such a time. What makes it even more difficult is when you don’t know the person well. Avoiding the conversation isn’t the answer, so follow these three tips to help you say the right thing to someone who has lost a son or daughter.

1. Know What Not to Say

First, avoid saying something well-meaning that sounds insincere. For instance, don’t ever tell someone you know what they’re going through unless you’ve been through the same situation. Even if you’ve also lost a child, realize that every situation is unique.

You also don’t want to tell them that it will get better or they’ll “get over it.” No one who ever loses someone they love ever gets over it, much less the loss of a child. You also don’t want to say the following:

“At least you still have Bobby (or another child)” or “You can always have another child.”

These comments make it sound like the child was replaceable. Be especially careful if the loss is from a miscarriage because people have a tendency to downplay this death because the child was unborn. Realize the loss is still as great for the parents and they must grieve.

2. Say Less, Help More

You don’t need to come up with a fancy expression of condolence. Something as simple as “I’m so sorry for your loss” is more than adequate when conveyed with sincerity.

Instead, focus on ways you can help. Prepare a meal to take to the person, or offer to pick up their other kids and spend time with them. Practical expressions of condolence often mean more in a time like this than words. If you don’t know what to offer, ask. Tell them you have a free afternoon on Saturday and you want to know what you can do to help them. Don’t be offended if they don’t take you up on your offer. Often at times like this, they aren’t sure what kind of help they need. You can talk to other family members to find out what assistance may be helpful.

3. Don’t Forget about The Person

Grief doesn’t end after the funeral or memorial service. Your friend or family member will always grieve for their lost child. If you want to offer sincere condolences to them, remember them weeks or even months from now. Express sympathy on the child’s birthday and the anniversary of their death.

You don’t need to come up with anything fancy; just let the person know you remember the day, too. Check in on them on other days just to see how they’re doing. You don’t have to mention the loss at all. Instead, just say “I thought about you this morning and wanted to see how you’re doing.” You can offer to get together for lunch or go for a walk. At the same time, don’t avoid the subject. Your friend may want to talk about their child as a way of keeping them alive in their mind.

Dealing with the grief over the loss of a child isn’t easy for any parent. Friends and family can help them through the process by being sympathetic and expressing condolences in the right way.

Suzie Kolber
Suzie Kolber

Suzie Kolber is a writer at Obituarieshelp.org. The site is a complete guide for someone seeking help for writing sympathy messages, condolence letters and funeral planning resources.

 

About Sharon Swanepoel 2641 Articles
Sharon Swanepoel is the Publisher and Editor of Your Local News, which includes Loganville Local News, Monroe Local News and Walton Living Magazine.
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  • Tammy O.

    Ms. Kolber, what an important subject to cover! Most people (including myself) have no idea what to say, and because it’s something that we ourselves fear, we tend to not want to broach the subject at all. But that person is thinking about it all the time. Years ago, I used to go to workshops taught by a wonderful woman named Judy Colyer Wolfe M. Div. B.C.C. She teaches on grief counseling (loss and death), and I simply cannot say enough about what she does. She said that many times people will say, “Call me if you need me”, but maybe a better response is, “Tell me what I can do for you”. Like you said, sometimes the difference between sincere and the need for something to say. The “tell me…” response helps them to formulate in their mind what they might really need (even if they don’t know right now). It also tells them that you are waiting on that one thing – it also helps them to keep their jumbled thoughts more focused. I would encourage you to look her up, and if she’s ever in Atlanta, by all means, it will be the best time you’ve ever spent in one afternoon (or two- you’ll want to go again). You’ll come away with a deeper sense of what you do and why you do it. Tammy O.

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