It can feel difficult to know when and how to support someone who has lost a child. By being respectful, knowing when to reach out, and being careful about what you say, you can provide your friend, family member, or acquaintance with words of comfort during this extremely painful time.
Words of Comfort for the Loss of a Child
One of the most important things to keep in mind when connecting with someone who lost a child is that you'll need to know when and how to appropriately reach out to them. With close friends and family members, it's best to reach out immediately regardless of the time of day, while with acquaintances, you can wait up to a couple weeks before saying anything or can wait until you see them in person if you don't have their contact information.
For Close Friends and Family Members
For family members or close friends who have lost a pregnancy, an infant, a young child, or an older child, reaching out to them can help them feel supported during this extremely painful time. You can consider saying:
- Words cannot express how deeply I feel for you during this time. We are all going to miss (insert child's name). I am here for whatever you need.
- From our family to yours, we cannot tell you how much we are going to miss (insert child's name). He/She was truly an incredible child that we feel honored to have known.
- Though (insert child's name) was only in our lives for (insert amount of time), I cannot tell you how much I adored him/her. I am here to support you always.
- I so appreciate you opening up to me about your miscarriage. I know I can't do anything to make this better, but I am here for you for whatever you need at anytime.
- I wish I could say or do something to make this better. I am here to support you and want to know if it's okay if I check in with you again tomorrow.
- Words cannot express how sorry I am for the loss of your son/daughter. I feel honored to have spent time with him/her and will miss him/her every day. I am happy to help you with whatever you need, whether it's dinner, cleaning, laundry, or just lending an ear, I am here for you no matter what.
- I cannot even begin to express how awful this is and I so wish you weren't going through this. (insert child's name) was the most amazing child and I know he/she will be deeply missed. Please let me know if you need anything. Is it okay if I check in with you later?
For individuals who you aren't close with, but who you wish to reach out to, you can consider saying:
- I am so sorry to hear about your recent loss of your son/daughter. Know that if you need anything, I am here for you.
- Although I never met (insert child's name), I've heard just how incredible he/she was. I hope you do not hesitate to reach out for anything that you need during this time.
- I was saddened to learn of the loss of your son/daughter. If you need someone to talk to, I am here to lend an ear.
- I so appreciate you sharing about the recent loss of your son/daughter with me. Let me know if there's anything I can do to help during this time.
Words of Comfort for the Loss of a Grown Daughter or Son
Losing a child, no matter what age, is excruciatingly painful for the parent(s). If you know someone who has lost an adult daughter or son, you can consider saying:
- I am beyond sorry to hear about the passing of your son/daughter. They were truly a light in our lives and our family will miss them every day. Please let me know if you need anything - our whole family is here for you.
- I am saddened that (insert child's name) passed away. He/She was an amazing person who will be missed by many.
- While I didn't know (insert child's name) well- I have only heard wonderful things about him/her. I know he/she was an incredible presence that drew everybody in. Please let me know what I can do to help.
- Words cannot express just how sorry I am to hear about (insert child's name) recent passing. He/She was a beautiful person who was gracious to everyone around him/her. Please reach out anytime if you'd like to talk or need anything.
- (insert child's name) was just the best, and it's so completely unfair that this has happened. I love you so much and am here for anything you need.
How to Support Someone Who has Lost a Child
Aside from connecting through words, you can also show this individual that you support them. Keep in mind that the loss of a child is often times a traumatic experience for the parent(s), as well as other members in the family. You can think about:
- Send a sympathy or condolence card and write something from the heart.
- Be there for them emotionally and on a regular basis, not just immediately after the loss.
- Check in with them through text or phone call. Always mention that if they aren't ready or comfortable speaking, they don't need to call back and you were simply checking in on them.
- Send over food and meals that can be easily frozen.
- Offer to do chores for them. Always note that they don't need to speak with you during this time if they don't feel up to it, and that you are just offering your help.
- Send over their favorite flowers.
- Some companies have infant loss mourning kits that can be purchased as a gift.
- See if you can help out with other children and/or pets so they can take some time for themselves.
What to Avoid Saying to a Grieving Parent
When speaking with someone, try to be mindful of their body language and verbal cues. Some individuals, especially during the grieving process, may have low energy or just may not feel comfortable voicing when they aren't ready or wanting to talk about their loss. When it comes to what not to do:
- Avoid speaking about yourself- really be there for them.
- Try not to bring religion up in any way.
- Do not pressure them to grieve or react in a certain way or in a certain timeframe. Remember everyone grieves differently and on their own time.
- Don't try to sugar coat anything, make light of the situation, or try to make sense of why this loss happened to them.
- Don't mention that you know or can imagine how this person feels. It can minimize their experience and puts the focus on you, when your full support should be directed at them.
Comforting Words for Someone Who Has Lost a Child
Whether you are speaking with someone you are really close with, or someone who is more of an acquaintance, be thoughtful about what you plan on saying. Providing comfort and support during this time can be incredibly meaningful to the individual or family who has lost a child.