Do let your genuine concern and caring show.
Do be available to listen, to help with the other
children, or whatever else seems needed at the time.
Do say you are sorry about what happened to their loved
one and about their pain.
Do allow them to express as much grief as they are
feeling at the moment and are willing to share.
Do encourage them to be patient with themselves, not to
expect too much of themselves and not to impose any "shoulds" on
Do allow them to talk about the special and endearing
qualities of the loved one they lost.
Do give special attention to the family's children at
the funeral and in the months to come (they too are hurt and confused and in
need of attention which their parents may not be able to give at this time).
Do reassure them that they did everything that they
could, that the medical care their loved one received was the best or whatever
else you know to be true and positive about the care given their loved one.
offer them some level of emotional support through phrases such as “I am so
sorry” or “I can only imagine how difficult this must be for you” or
“I know this must be stressful.
let your own sense of helplessness keep you from reaching out to a bereaved
friend or relative.
avoid them because you are uncomfortable (being avoided adds pain to an
already intolerably painful experience).
say: "you ought to be feeling better by now" or anything else which
implies a judgment about their feelings.
tell them what they should feel or do.
change the subject when they mention their loved one or avoid mentioning their
name out of fear of reminding them of their pain.
say you “understand” what they are going through when you really can only
“imagine what they must be going through.”
While two people may have experienced and injury or loss, they never
really share the same exact emotions.
try to find something positive (i.e. a
moral lesson, closer family ties, etc.) about the death
point out that at least they have their other children (children are not
interchangeable; they cannot replace each other).
say that they can always have another child (even if they wanted to, and
could, another child would not replace the one they've lost).
Don't make any comments which in any way suggest that the
care at home, in the emergency room, hospital or wherever, was inadequate
(parents are plagued by feelings of doubt and guilt without help from their
family and friends).