What not to say to families who are grieving
The wrong words and the right words for parents who have just lost their children.
All the sympathy card sentiments in the world can seem insufficient when trying to console someone who has lost a loved one. The death of a child is particularly challenging. Such anguish can appear implacable even when met with the best intentions and carefully selected words.
Even when our aims are true, some of our most common expressions of sympathy can offend grieving parents. Here are phrases to avoid when trying to offer support to the bereft.
“Time heals all wounds.”
Avoid banal philosophical or religious statements. Frequently such declarations seek to minimize the pain survivors feel. For instance, “Time heals all wounds,” implies that the hurt the parent feels will at some point go away. It won’t diminish. The loss of that child will abide with the parents throughout their life.
“Everything happens for a reason.”
People often contend that there must be a reason for the terrible event. We would like to believe that a rationale exists for every catastrophe, that there is a silver lining to each dark cloud. Even if a benefit does later reveal itself, often that reason will remain obscured to the parents until they have worked through their loss. And even then there simply is no upside to death.
"I know how you feel."
It can be insulting to the bereaved to suggest that you know exactly how they are feeling. Instead, try asking them how they feel and let them know it's ok if they are not ready to share their feelings.
“It’s God’s Will.”
Common religious consolations often suggest that the death is God’s doing, not because God is diabolical but because God is teaching us something. As Rev. Emily C. Heath writes in The Huffington Post, attributing terrible events to God makes it seem “that God will break parents' hearts at will just because God can. It also communicates to parents and loved ones that they are not really entitled to their grief.”
So, what is appropriate to say to grieving parents?
"I'm sorry to hear that this happened to you."
This phrase let's the grieving person know that you care about them and their situation, The American Cancer Society says. It also may give the bereaved an opportunity to talk about their feelings.
“Please let me know how I can support you.”
Make yourself available to the family. Offer to help with chores or errands. Be available to talk. Your help and consideration will mean more than any words can, but allow the family to choose how to involve you during this difficult time. Just be ready to assist when they call.
Often simply listening can be what the grieving person needs to help them get through such a difficult time. You can also offer support in other ways, such as grocery shopping, bringing food, handling arrangements, paying bills or just spending time together.
Photo: Terry Vine/Blend Images LLC/Getty Images
Another trite saying is " my heart goes out to you". What the hell does that mean? Are people so lacking in a vocabulary this is all they can come up with?
How about " I feel terrilble for what you're probably going through", or " I can't even imagine the pain you must be feeling, but I'm here for you if there is any way I can help".
When I hear "it is God's will" I want to look around for something to bludgeon the person with whose mouth this came out of.
If this is God's will, then I want NOTHING to do with THAT god.
One that always gets to me is "He/She is in a better place." NO! I want to scream, the place he was supposed to be is with ME!
Sometimes just a hug and shared tears is enough.
News, stories, tips and laughs for moms & dads
Remember the concept of weekends being a time for rest, relaxation, and togetherness? No? Us either. Between soccer games, playdates, dragging your kids to see the new exhibition at the local children's museum, and we need to pick up a gift for that birthday party that starts in . . . 20 minutes, juggling a busy family's weekend schedule can be more stressful than a weekday. While we know it's simply not realistic to cancel all your plans and obligations moving forward, clearing the calendar for just one weekend can be just the refresher that your family's craving. Here's why.
Any of these sound familiar?
4 steps for raising a child who doesn't feel emotionally stranded.
You just had a baby? You're a superstar! All those diapers, all that spit up, and you're makin' magic happen. But you're also likely tired - really tired - and busy (so, so busy). Taking time for yourself might seem like an indulgence but a happy mom makes for a happy baby. Here are 7 things you should definitely do to keep your sanity intact and your spirit high. <more, below>
Summertime is on, and the kids are out of school. Every mom knows that for these three months it's more important than ever to keep the kids busy. But you don't have to schedule your life away with camps, or drop a bundle on activities and games that come in a box. You can make your own fun, and even include the kids in the prep, with some simple, inexpensive DIY crafts that will keep them playing 'til the lightening bugs come out. Make your own fingerpaint, bubbles, and crayons. Create a fort-building kit and superhero capes that will kick their imaginations into overdrive. Here are 10 of our favorite kid-friendly DIY crafts to fuel your summertime fun.
Let these DIY dog bed projects be your inspiration and within a single weekend, you can construct something that really makes Rex feel like a king.
The task of finding an eco-friendly, safe-for-baby gift parents-to-be will actually use is kind of challenging. Add to that a price limit of $50, and the feat suddenly feels impossible! Fortunately, we combed the marketplace for some of the prettiest, most useful, sweetest gifts for baby and family. Many are fine on their own, while others would work well as part of a bigger basket — you know, if you wish to achieve that shower-goer hero status.
Jennifer Goodall gave birth Friday after much drama
My kids snapped a pic of me on my phone and it changed how I see myself
6-year-old has rare brain condition
He wanted to know if woman was pregnant
Did your state make the grade?