Grieving – The loss of a child is one of the most devastating things that can happen to parents and supporting them leaves friends feeling helpless, because what is the right thing to do or say to help them? Many times it is best to say nothing, just be there.
We feel desperate in trying to help and say things that can be insensitive or irrelevant just to steer away from the pain as we are also confronted with our own mortality. Be there to give a shoulder if they want to cry, because they need to cry. Be there to give an ear if they want to speak about the loved one. Encourage them to do so. Revisiting the memories they have, is one of the ways of ‘feeling close’ to the little one. Pray for them and with them, but be very careful what you say with regards to God and heaven. Telling them that God needed the child more or that the best needed to be taken because life on earth is bad, only might lead to resentment and bitterness towards God. Rather refrain from making statements that might sound good, but is not inspired by the Spirit. Ask for wisdom, because only God knows best what they need from day to day and hour to hour. The process of grief goes through different stages of which the first one is shock and denial. The time frame for each stage might be different for people, but the first stage usually is about three months. Make a note on your calendar to make sure that you stay in touch with them after the first three months, because then the reality starts to dawn on them. People tend to support until a few weeks after the funeral and then ‘life goes on’ for the friends, but not for the grieved parents. People also withdraw because they feel helpless to see their beloved friends in such agony. Just a regular phone call, coffee, flower, as long as they know you are thinking of them.
The only way to support the right way is to be there and to be able to sensitively establish what they need in the moment whether it be 3 days, 3 months, 3 years, 30 years down the way. Parents never accept the loss of a child, they only eventually learn to live alongside the pain, so never expect of them to move on, it is impossible. We tend to think that crying and sadness are abnormal and thus forget that crying, depressive symptoms and even angry feelings are part of the grief process and quite normal during times like these. Allow them space to feel what they feel without trying to save them from it. They need to feel and express the feelings.