Friday, November 14, 2008

How to offer support to those who face the death of a child

My baby "died" when the doctor said he was going to die the day he was born. He "died" again when he was forty days old, and had an apnea attack where he stopped breathing for three hours and turned black. He finally died after twelve apneas at fifty five days all. I grieved each time he "died".

I understand how a grieving mother feels, and the following are my recommendations of how you can support those who face the death of a child.

First of all, never ever say, "I know how you feel." No two scenarios are the same. You will never know. Instead say, "I understand how you feel" will be easier to the ear of the grieving persons.

Be sensitive, and tune in with the situation. If the persons don't want to talk, just sit quietly. If you know them really well, you may offer your shoulder for them to cry on or gently hug them. If they want to talk, and express anger, let her. Don't correct her even if what she says might offend other people.

Losing a child goes against the law of nature. It is the most tragic thing to happen, give them space, don't tell them to snap out of it. Never tell them, never mind, you can always have another child. The child who died is special to them, nobody can replace them.

Let them cry, tell them it is okay to cry because it is healthy to cry as they mourn their loss. Tell them it is their right to grieve, and experience the pain.

For practical ways, offer to cook meals, do household chores, baby sit if they have other children, go shopping for groceries.

Do not offer to clean the deceased child's room or throw things out. Leave it as it is, and if they want to stay in the room, let them, but gently tell them they are in the house and call you if they need you. If they impulsively want to get rid of everything, offer to take them to the garage, in case they may regret their decision and want some of the items back. You can retrieve them from the garage.

Gently offer to accompany them for walks if they have been mopping in the house for too long.

If they are the same religion, pray with them, and also tell them you pray for them all the time.

If they want to go to the cemetery and have no transport, offer to take them. When they are there, stay away in a reasonable distance to allow them privacy to grieve. Let them stay there as long as they wish. Don't hurry them up.

Finally, just be there for them. Let them know you are available for them.

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