With the holidays upon us, families that have suffered the tragic loss of a child are often trying to figure out how they can simply survive the season. Unfortunately, those very people who most care about them, relatives and close friends, often say the wrong things, hurting the very people they’re trying to comfort. According to Patricia Loder, a twice bereaved parent and executive director of The Compassionate Friends, a national self-help organization for families that have suffered the death of a child, following are a few pointers on what not to say to bereaved parents:
1) “The holidays are a time for rejoicing and giving thanks for what we have. Don’t spoil it for everyone else. Let’s pretend this never happened.”
2) “Your child is in a better place. You should be happy about that.”
3) “Why don’t you have another child next year so you can put what’s happened behind you?”
4) “We have to hold our family gathering at your house or it just won’t be the same. You need to stay busy.”
5) “I know just how you feel. Our pet died this year.”
6) “What do you mean you don’t want to decorate your home? We’re coming over and do it. That will put you in the holiday mood.”
7) “I know you like shopping–let’s go out together, I have so many people I have to buy presents for.”
8) “It’s time to put this all behind you. No one wants to be with someone who’s always feeling sorry for himself.”
“Well meaning friends and family have to realize that the holidays are difficult enough for parents who have lost a child without making them feel you’re judging them,” says Mrs. Loder. “Life for them has changed and it will never be the same.”
The Compassionate Friends has more than 625 chapters in the United States offering friendship, understanding, and hope to bereaved families during this difficult holiday season, as well as the rest of the year. The Compassionate Friends sponsors the Worldwide Candle Lighting the second Sunday in December, and is joined by other organizations and groups around the globe as hundreds of services are held throughout the day to remember children.
To learn more about The Compassionate Friends and its many programs for bereaved families, call toll-free 877-969-0010 or visit them on the web at compassionatefriends.org. Also on Facebook.
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