The death of a child is the tip of the iceberg and there is a glacier of change occurring within a family, often invisible to others.
The death of a child within a family unit can send shockwaves through a family’s health and wellbeing. It can be daunting and intimidating to engage with a bereaved family or parent during this time, but it is important for them to know they are not alone and their community cares for them.
Whether you are looking to support parents, siblings or grandparents, each family member is grieving their loss. Each member may respond or grieve differently, but there are some common things you can do to be supportive.
Acknowledge their loss, listen unconditionally and without judgement. Avoid offering platitudes in an effort to “make them feel better.” Expect their grief to ebb and flow daily, if not for years to come. This is normal. Help the family find ways to remember and honor their child, sibling or grandchild. Respect everyone’s experiences and grief. Be cognizant of holidays or other important dates. Be sure to honor both the life and the absence of their loved one.
There are many ways to support a family. For more ideas, see our ten ways to support a family.