What To Do To Help Bereaved Parents

While nothing you can do will take away the pain the parents are experiencing from losing their child, there are some things you can do that may help the parents cope during this difficult time. We hope the below suggestions on what to do to help bereaved parents will aid you in comforting them. 

Deliver Food

  • Bring them food, even if you just leave it on the porch with a note. Don’t expect to join them for the meal, as some parents prefer to be alone.
  • Drop off gift cards for take out food.
  • Drop off a box of snacks. This often helps when the parents don’t have much of an appetite.

Run Errands

  • Offer to help the parents with a simple task, like running to the grocery store. Often going out into public can be overwhelming right after the loss of a child.
  • Offer to help with a specific chore, such as cleaning the house. It’s often helpful to ask directly, “can I help you (insert specific task, such as: do laundry, cut the grass, vacuum, etc.)”
  • Offer to watch their other living children.
  • Offer to do anything that takes a responsibility off of their plate so they can focus on grieving their child.

Spend Time Together

  • Ask them if they would like to go out to dinner or to do some kind of activity. If so, take them out. Sometimes parents need a change in their grieving routine.
  • Ask them if they want you to sit with them so they are not alone. Some parents may want you to talk with them, others may want to sit in silence but want you to be there with them.

Offer Support

  • Send messages or notes to the parents in the weeks and months following their loss to let them know you are thinking about them and their child.
  • If you know of any other bereaved parents, ask the parents if they would like to be put in touch with them. Many parents find it helpful to talk to someone who has gone through the journey.
  • Offer to help with the logistics of the funeral. This can be things like contacting the funeral home to set up a meeting or coordinating the music and speakers. It is important to ensure the parents are involved in the planning if that is what they want, such as choosing the casket, the urn/cemetery plot, songs, etc.

Remember Their Child

  • If you would like to give the parents a gift to remember their child by, try finding a personalized item, such as engraved wind chimes; a necklace with their child’s name, picture or hand print; or something else meaningful to the parents.
  • Remember the child and parents on special days, such as the child’s birthday, death anniversary, or holidays. Send the parents an email, text, card, or call to let them know you are thinking of them.

Avoid

  • Know that there will be triggers for the parents. Don’t take this personally. If it is too difficult for a parent to see someone or attend a gathering, give them grace as they work through their grief. Let them know your feelings are not hurt and you will see them when they are ready.
  • Don’t linger and silently stare at the parent. It makes the parent feel like they have to comfort you or tell you they are doing fine. (The exception to this is if the parent has asked that you sit with them in silence).