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Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Do's and Don'ts of Grief Support

Do's

Do ask, "How are you REALLY doing?"
Do remember that you can't take away their pain, but you can share it and help them feel less alone.
Do let your genuine concern and care show.
Do call the child by name.
Do treat the couple equally. Fathers need as much support as mothers.
Do be available...to listen, to run errands, to drive or whatever else seems needed at the time.
Do say you are sorry about what happened to their child and about their pain.
Do accept their moods whatever they may be, you are not there to judge. Be sensitive to shifting moods.
Do allow them to talk about the child that has died as much and as often as they want.
Do talk about the special, endearing qualities of the child.
Do reassure the parents that they did everything they could, that the care the child received was the best possible.
Do put on your calendar the birth and death date of the child and remember the family the following year(s). That you remember the child is very supportive.
Do extend invitations to them. But understand if they decline or change their minds at the last minute. Above all continue to call and visit.
Do send a personal note or letter or make a contribution to a charity that is meaningful to the family.
Do get literature about the disease and grief process to help you understand.

Don'ts

Don't be afraid to ask about the deceased child and to share memories.
Don't think that the age of the child determines its value and impact.
Don't be afraid to touch, it can often be more comforting than words.
Don't avoid them because you feel helpless or uncomfortable, or don't know what to say.
Don't change the subject when they mention their child.
Don't push the parents through the grieving process, it takes a long time to heal and they never forget.
Don't encourage the use of drugs or alcohol.
Don't ask them how they feel if you aren't willing to listen.
Don't say you know how they feel.
Don't tell them what they should feel or do.
Don't try to find something positive in the child's death.
Don't say that they can always have another child.
Don't suggest that they should be grateful for their other children.
Don't think that death puts a ban on laughter. There is much enjoyment in the memory of the time they had together.
Don't call it a miscarriage if the baby was born alive and later passed away.
Avoid the following cliches:
"Be brave, don't cry."
"It was God's will" or "it was a blessing."
"Get on with your life. This isn't the end of the world."
"God needed another flower in his garden."
"At least it wasn't older."
"You must be strong for the other children."
"You're doing so well."
"You're young, you'll get over it."
"Time will heal."

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