Reprinted with permission.
Some of you know my 12 yo daughter Rachael died 3 years ago this month. It is fascinating to me what types of things I have learned through losing her. A friends 11 yo son is- dying of cancer and is struggling so I thought it might help to share a few things that you should never say to a mom who has a child dying or one who died.
1. Never tell us that we are doing *it* wrong. *It* is unbearable and we are doing the best there is to do. Honest. If you would do things differently that is fine. But don’t tell us. This is not your job or burden to bear and we DO have to do it and you don’t.
2. Don’t tell us that they are in a better place. We know heaven is nicer than here, but we like them here just fine and really…it feels like you are saying we are not good enough for our child to stay.
3. Please don’t tell us ways to save them. We already want to and can’t or couldn’t.
4. Don’t tell us that God *must* heal our child if we just have enough faith. Perfect healing is in heaven for us all and I have yet to meet a Christian who never died. If faith was all it takes to heal everyone NO one would ever die.
5. It hurts us to be told that losing a child to death by sickness or accident is the same a when your 94 year old grandmother died in her sleep 2 years ago. It isn’t the same thing at all. We know you are in pain, but it is not the same thing. At all.
6. Please don’t expect us to be back to normal in a month and it is a fallacy to say grieving takes a year. We will never be the same and it will take a long time to find our way again. We will never be *over it*.
7. Please help us. Life is so overwhelming that after the death it is hard to even think of HOW to cook a meal, let alone do it. And if our child has not died yet, please offer to help in any and every way possible. If you are far away, money helps us to buy help.
8. Let us cry. We are so sorry that it makes you uncomfortable, but it is a fact of our life now. Tears will come and it doesn’t mean that it is bad to talk about our children, only that we are deeply grieving them.
9. It means a lot to us when you remember our child. Expecially later when it feels like everyone has forgotten.
10. Having another baby is not the answer to losing the one that died.
11. It is NOT easier, or harder, that we have other children. No one can replace the one that died.
12. Please don’t watch us as though we are about to throw ourselves into the open grave. None of us likes to be thought of as a freak show. And please think of us as something other than the-lady-whose-kid-died. That is a hard definition to live with. But also please be gentle with us for quite a while. We can’t handle rough treatment.
13. We may gain weight, or lose weight, or sleep more, or not sleep at all. We may be sad for a long time. It does not mean something wrong with us. It just means we are profoundly changed.
14. We will never be the same as you once knew us. Please don’t expect us to be.
15. Remember that our families are hurting too.
16. We can’t help you through our child’s death. We recognize that it is hard for many people but please don’t lean on us as we go through this. We can’t hold you up. We have other people that we have to help already. Come and help hold us up instead please.
Corinne Mutch Kligmann