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ChocolateCoveredStarfish's avatar

How do I comfort a friend who recently lost a child?

Asked by ChocolateCoveredStarfish (222points) July 11th, 2011

A friend of mine lost her 4 year old son on June 26th to septic shock and organ failure after a long battle with cancer. I don’t really know how to comfort her. I don’t even know if it’s possible to feel comforted so soon after the loss of a child. I don’t have kids and I can’t even begin to imagine the pain that comes along with losing one. All I know is that she loved that child with all she had and she is absolutely crushed. I don’t know if “how do I comfort her?” is a valid question, because I’m not sure I could. But I want to be there for her. I just don’t want to say or do the wrong thing.

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10 Answers

Coloma's avatar

I think the best thing to do is just follow her lead, call often, ask her what she needs, if anything, from you in the way of help. Maybe offering to bring in groceries, take care of some mundane tasks she might not be up to. Otherwise, all you CAN do is let her know you love her, you are there for her and just listen. Just BE with her and be there for her. It will probably take several years for her to start feeling herself again in the truest sense.

Does she have other children? If so, gently reminding her that they still need her desperately, and that her care and attention towards them, while never replacing the child lost, is so important. I knew a person years ago that lost a sibling and the parents were so distraught that the other 2 kids ended up growing up and feeling very resentful that the parents could not be present and happy with still having them.

As hard as death is, sooner or later we must return to the moment and focus on those that are still living, and not lastly ourselves.

Best wishes to you and your friend during this difficult time.

marinelife's avatar

Send her a sympathy card. Write in it a memory of her child that you have that makes you smile. Tell her that you can’t know her pain. Ask her to let you know if there is anything that you can do. Make a concrete offer: to make dinner for them once a week, to go with her anywhere she would like.

Then just keep reaching out after two weeks, after four weeks, after six weeks. Don’t fade away while she is grieving.

Meego's avatar

Just be there, help with anything like preparing food, just listen to her even just sit in silence, help her memorialize her child. It will take time, her own time unfortunately could be years and she probably won’t be the same person you knew before, death of a loved one changes ppl.

I am really sorry about the loss. My prayers are with you ad your friend in your difficult time.

snowberry's avatar

Great answers to all of the above. If they have a picture of the child that is especially nice, consider having it blown up and framed.

Blueroses's avatar

My heart goes out to your friend. I hope she finds some peace. When my good friend lost her son, she said what meant most to her was people allowing her to talk about him. So many well-intentioned people avoid mentioning the person who died and that seems like he’s forgotten or should be, which is never the case.

filmfann's avatar

One of the hardest things I have done was speaking at the funeral for a friend of mines 9 month old child.
I think I read some of Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet.
I believe that did comfort the mother.

On Children
Kahlil Gibran

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

zenvelo's avatar

Lots of good suggestions above. One thing,as @marinelife said, keep reaching out, let her know you are available. One of the sadder things I hear from people who lose someone tragically is that they feel abandoned by friends who are “scared” they will make the friend relive the grief.

So 6 months, a year, two years, five, be a friend and don’t be scared to talk about it. A friend of mine lost a daughter to SIDS, it has been meaningful for them to know that their friends still remember their daughter.

Sunny2's avatar

Do you have a special place that makes you feel very peaceful, preferably an outdoor place? Call and ask her to spend an hour or two with you and take her to the place where you feel comfort. Don’t talk a lot unless she initiates it. Bring something to nibble on and a beverage and just soak up the solace. Let her grieve. Give her a hug and let her cry if she needs to.
That’s what I think I would like from a friend.

linguaphile's avatar

Tear Soup
One of the best books for grief.
Ben’ Bells
This organization grew out of the grief the founder felt when her son Ben died. This is by far one of the best movements I’ve seen, ever. Don’t bother asking for a Ben’s Bell for yourself (I tried), it’s for people like your friend.

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