It's not easy to find the right words to express your sadness to a family who has lost their child, but your condolences can mean the world to them. You may be afraid to bring up the child's death for fear of upsetting the parents, but you shouldn't have anything to worry about if you choose your words wisely. There are many things you can say to offer some comfort on this sad occasion.
While nearly everyone has experienced the loss of a loved one at one time or another, losing a child is probably the most difficult loss of all. The best thing you can do in a situation like this is keep your remarks simple and genuine. Here are some condolences that can be used when speaking to the child's family or when sending a bereavement card or letter.
- I'm so sorry for your loss.
- What can I do to help?
- Tell me about your child.
- You and (child's name) are in my thoughts and prayers.
- Do you want to talk about (child's name)?
- I will call you. (and really mean it)
- Take all the time you need.
- Please be patient with yourself.
- It's okay to cry.
- I don't know what to say. (be honest)
- I can't imagine what you must be going through.
- You can lean on me if you need to.
- We all loved (child's name) so much.
- It was really a blessing for us to have known (child's name).
Insensitive Remarks You Should Avoid
Sometimes people mean well, yet their condolences are actually a little thoughtless or even insensitive. At the very least, they don't bring the grieving parents any comfort. Here are a few things you should definitely avoid saying.
- It's better that it happened now than when (the child) is older.
- Now you have an angel in heaven.
- At least you weren't too attached to him or her.
- I understand.
- I know what you are feeling because I've lost (fill in the blank).
- You're young, you can have more children.
- Everything happens for a reason.
- God doesn't give you more than you can handle.
- Are you feeling better yet?
Condolences don't always have to come through written or spoken words. There are many things loved ones and friends can do to remember the child who has died while still expressing their grief toward the family:
- Offer a sympathetic ear and just listen.
- Have a tree or a rose bush planted in memory of the child.
- Just give family members a hug; no words are needed.
- Place flowers or another memento at the child's gravesite, if applicable.
- Make a monetary donation in the child's name to a local charity or hospital.
- Send the parents some flowers or a plant.
- Just hold the parents' hands and allow them to cry or talk about their child.
- If you live out of town, periodically send a postcard to the family, just to let them know you are thinking about them.
- Offer to scrapbook items about the child including birth and death certificates, the obituary, locks of hair, handprints, and other cherished items.
Speak from the Heart
Make sure that whatever you say really comes from your heart and is not an overused cliché or platitude. The grieving parents will appreciate your sincerity, and knowing that you truly care can give them some small measure of comfort during this extremely difficult time.