Healing Tip – June 2024

May 31, 2024 | Healing Tip

Words That Can Help Grievers

By Janet Zimmerman, LCSW-R

In last month’s Healing Tip, COPE’s virtual, daytime support group offered suggestions for what not to say to someone who is grieving the loss of a child. Hopefully some of you found it helpful, at the very least, by validating your feelings when confronted with insensitive comments pertaining to your loss. As I wrote last month, it is difficult enough to get through each day without the added burden of having to figure out how to respond when someone’s words cut through you like a knife. Or make you cry. Or just add to your pain, in big or small ways. 

This month I asked my group members what people should say to someone who has lost a child–words that people have said which were helpful rather than hurtful. Following are the group’s responses:

Just thinking of you

There are no words

I can’t begin to imagine what you’re feeling

I’m so sorry

I’m sorry that you’re sad; I can understand how hard it is to lose a child

Your surviving child still needs you

You are amazing (for surviving and finding meaning and coping)

This month’s list is shorter than last month’s list. It seems that everyone has had the unfortunate experience of being a victim of hurtful words and there are fewer words that have helped. Maybe that’s because it’s more about letting those who have lost a child know that you care; you are there for them, you will not forget them. That it’s not only ok for you to mention their child, but it’s appreciated. My group members have said that they want to hear stories about their children, and they want to have space to talk about them as well. And if people don’t know what to say they can be honest and say that. The most important thing is to be there. Acknowledge the pain of loss and offer kindness and love.