After a child dies, religion and spirituality are among the most sought-after resources for families.
The death of a child shakes the very foundation of a parent’s world view, often leaving them unsure how to reconcile their beliefs with such tragedy. Many parents and families experience a crisis in faith or are highly resistant to the suggestion that religion or spirituality has anything to offer them. Yet, seventy-two percent of Americans find religion to be an important part of their lives.
Faith leaders with experience serving bereaved parents suggest the following approaches to avoid further harm and potentially help parents find benefits in faith and spiritual connections:
Listen and be present with their pain and potential crisis of faith. Understand that often you will not provide comfort.
Resist fixing and delivering what may be received as platitudes. Don’t say, “your child is in a better place” or “God only gives you what you can handle” or “your child is an angel watching over you.”
Share Evermore’s grief directory and offer to help connect them to resources and people they can use if and when they are ready. Identify other bereaved parents in the community who want to be there for others.
Acknowledge and affirm the significance of their loss.
Honor the life and loss by suggesting ways to remember and memorialize their child through keepsakes, storytelling, shrines, advocacy events and other memoirs.
Enlist the most sensitive thoughtful members of the community to offer meals, dog walking, errand running, play dates and other ways to be there for the family.
Learn about what makes child death a unique loss that merits an entirely different response from society, including employers, schools, law enforcement, health care and faith leaders.