The month of July is designated for honoring those who have suffered the most inconsolable grief imaginable: the loss of a child. Although the grieving process is highly personalized, we have compiled a list of three ways you can support those who have been confronted with this inconceivable tragedy. Additionally, we have provided resources for those who have suffered the ultimate loss.
1. Say the child's name.
Sharing your favorite memories of the child, reminiscing on their unique personality traits and providing meaningful anecdotes may help validate the impact that the child left behind. It is important to ensure the bereaved that their child will never be forgotten.
2. Offer a helping hand.
Extending sympathy in the form of acts of service can help bereaved parents feel supported, especially in the days following the tragedy. Helping with basic tasks, like grocery shopping, cooking and babysitting the other children may lift added stress from the parents' shoulders.
It can be difficult to find the right words to comfort those coping with this loss. In truth, there are no words that can take the pain away. Instead, provide support to the bereaved by being present and offering a non-judgmental, listening ear.
“What works is your presence," said Dr. Gordon Livingston, psychiatrist and co-founder of National Bereaved Parents Awareness Month. "There’s no set of words that will work each time, but being there for someone in a supportive way is what provides the most consolation."
For those grieving in the wake of losing a child, we have compiled a list of helpful resources.
Compassionate Friends is a nonprofit organization devoted to providing comfort and support to grieving families.
National Institute for Trauma and Loss in Children provides valuable resources for therapists and bereaved loved ones.
Still Standing Magazine is an online publication written by and for those who have lost children.
Breakthrough.com provides online mental health therapy.