A Child Has Died: Part Two

Part One and now Part Two have been an emotional journey for Scarred Joy. I questioned myself as I wrote. Was Part One too much for my readers? Is the death of children too emotional and sad for us to want to talk about it? Am I stirring up memories my readers would rather have left alone?

I don’t have concrete answers to my own questions. I appeal to you, my readers, if you have personal answers to such questions please answer in a comment. I appreciate your consideration.

Those Who Grieve Child Death

Over the years I have encountered numbers of people who grieve the death of a child or children. There are those who have learned to move forward with their lives taking the memory of their child with them. There are those who still revisit the death of their child and may talk about the loss in small doses. Still others live the rest of their lives in honour of their child.

Support to Grieving Parents and Grandparents.

What does one say to parents or grandparents grieving the death of a child? Do you say anything? Here are a few common sense suggestions:

Be Genuine

No one likes a phony so if you aren’t sure what to say or if you are to say anything, keep the tongue from flapping. From experience in coming alongside people for years those who grieve can sense if you are genuine. Be genuine in your care in the midst of another person’s pain.

Pain and Suffering—They are not the same

If you say something to the person just because you think you have to, you may cause the person to suffer even more. Grief causes pain. Saying the wrong thing adds to the pain and becomes suffering.

Let me unpack that for you with an example. In the case of a person grieving the death of a loved one the grief causes emotional, psychological, spiritual and even physical pain. We might come along to visit with the person. We think we have to say something but we not sure what.

A common phrase used by many people in the context of grief comes to mind. It may be something like, “well, it will be ok, you have other kids.” The well-intentioned remark may also be “ God will get you through this” or “it will get better with time, you’ll see.” Phrases like this may only burden the person with something else to process on top of the death. This is causing them to suffer.

A Caring Presence

I suggest perhaps it is best not to say anything until you have listened to the grieving person. In listening, in genuine listening, we are being present. In being present we are coming alongside the person. We may not have to say anything. Your presence shows you care.

A caring presence means after the funeral is over, after people no longer bring meals to help out, you are still willing to help where needed. You take the person for coffee. You do not forget the name of the child who died. You honor the grief of the parent or grandparent by allowing them to lead the way in it. It is their grief. Your genuine care for the person recognizes while their grief journey continues you will be with them all the way.

Concluding Remarks

The death of a child is an experience we wish we could avoid altogether. Even the thought of child death may cause us to fear. The reality of life disregards our fear and allows children to die. This may leave us feeling vulnerable and helpless. Our love for others is perhaps shown most in how we respond to the death of a child. We may want to avoid those who grieve this most ponderous loss. Let us, instead, be caring companions along this unpredictable journey of grief.

6 thoughts on “A Child Has Died: Part Two

  1. Thank you, Alan, for tackling such a difficult subject. I especially loved your paragraph “A Caring Presence” because it gave us concrete examples of what to do for a grieving friend and a reminder to continue to be there for them long after the death. Grief has no time limit and is different for everyone.

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    1. Hi Barbara. I appreciate you comments and that you took the time. Yes, caring presence is important. It shows we know the person may still appreciate our ongoing support. I remember when I was in healthcare I often sat with older people grieving the death of loved ones. It was a privilege in my work to come alongside people and listen to grief stories from long ago yet still fresh in their minds. I know you understand what people may go through in grief. Thank you for your presece. 🙂

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  2. Your words are full of wisdom and experience. Experience with life’s most difficult journey….grief. thank you for this and all the encouragement

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