10 things bereaved parents wish you knew

I don’t know the originator of this list but I share it here because so many of you have asked how you can help, what to say, what not to say…  I hope it doesn’t come across as self-serving :/ I really am posting it because so many of you have asked.  It’s  just a small insight into the life of a parent who is attempting to live the “new normal” after the death of a beloved child. (I have added to the original list and personalized it)

  1. Please don’t be afraid to talk to me about Grant.  He lived and was very important to me, and it is a comfort to me to know that he was important to you, too.  My son is pretty much always on my mind anyway…you’re not going to “remind” me that he is gone. So if the Lord lays something on your heart, or you just want to talk about him, please do.
  2. If I cry when you speak of Grant, it isn’t because you have hurt me. It isn’t because you have said something wrong. Grant’s death is the cause of my tears and there is profound sadness and I miss him and what could have been.  If I cry you have allowed me me to share my grief, and in a sense, walk the road of suffering with me for a moment. So thank you. And please don’t mind the tears. They will be with me for a long time.
  3. If I seem absent-minded and forgetful, that’s because I am!  “Grief Brain” is a common malady in bereaved parents.  I’m really not losing my mind, but sometimes I may feel like I am, and it may appear like I am at times.  But when grieving, your mind is so preoccupied with other things, there isn’t much room for anything else for a season. So I will probably be quite forgetful…sorry.
  4. Please don’t expect my grieving to be over in six months, or even in a year.  The early months may be the most traumatic for me, but please understand that my grief will never fully end until the day I am reunited with Grant in Heaven.  And though it may sound strange, I don’t really want my pain to completely go away…it helps me stay connected with my child. In time, it won’t be the primary feeling anymore, and grief will not define me.  Joy will make it’s way back to the top, but in some measure, it will always be with me, below the surface.
  5. When you ask me how I’m doing, that’s a really hard question for me to answer.  Neither one of us has enough time for me to fully and accurately answer that question. So I will probably give you my pat answer, “I am profoundly sad, fighting for joy moment by moment, and I still believe.” It’s the truth and succinct.  If you want a more detailed, lengthy answer, I am happy to give it. But I can pretty much guarantee it will come with tears.
  6. Please forgive me if I seem rude at times.  I am so sorry.  Sometimes I just don’t have the emotional stamina to participate in small talk and keep the smile on my face.  Deep suffering is exhausting, emotionally and physically. And sometimes I will simply not have it in me to chit chat about things that have no eternal weight.  There’s just not enough left over for that. So if I sit quietly and listen, please know that it has nothing to do with you.
  7. I pray you will never know how I feel.  I would not wish this suffering on my worst enemy. So it’s OK for you to feel relief that God has asked me to walk this road, and not you.  I understand that, and would feel the same way if the roles were reversed.  But please don’t tell me that you understand what I am going thru or that you know how I feel. Unless you have lost a child, I don’t think you can understand how it feels, and that’s OK. You do not need to know how it feels to be a comfort to us. And similar to that, please do not try and answer the “why” questions that hang in the air in a situation like this. None of us can comprehend the mind of God. We do not know why, and probably never will this side of Heaven. Even though as humans we crave answers and understanding in suffering, it’s not helpful or fruitful, for the bereaved parent, to have folks try and come up with possible reasons for why God has chosen this for our family. Healing doesn’t come from the explained. None of us knows the answers and nothing said will fix it or make the pain go away, only the Lord can do that. So just hug me and be OK with the fact that you have no words, I am.
  8. Being a bereaved parent is not contagious, so please don’t shy away from me. I need your support now more than ever before. Praying for me, touching in, sending notes of encouragement, texts to let me know you’re thinking about us, are all means of grace the Lord uses and each one brings a sense of comfort and reminds us we are not walking the road of suffering alone. You are the hands and feet of Jesus, and we are humbled and so grateful. Please be there for the long haul…we’re going to need it.
  9. You may see me struggling emotionally sometimes, especially when I’m at church.  This does not mean that I have lost my faith.  I am more sure of God now than I have ever been in my life. However, for a variety of reasons, church is just a very emotional place to be for someone suffering loss. So, if you see me crying at church, or any where else for that matter, please know you have done nothing wrong and it’s nothing personal. I am trying to regain a life that is more than performance, while deep down the heart still aches. So tears will come, but please know, it is not you, or anything you said, or anything you did or did not do. I am heartache wearing a smile, and occasionally, tears will fall.
  10. Please understand that the loss of a child changes a person.  When Grant died, a part of me died with him.  I am not the same person that I was before my child died and I will never be that person again. The death of a child changes the way you see God, the way you see this life and the next, the way you see yourself and your role in this thing we call life.  It changes your priorities, your affections, and your ambitions. When the dust settles, and I look back on the old Alisa, my prayer is that the renovated Alisa is upgraded and improved; more sanctified, more dependent on her Savior and more aware of her dependency. I pray I am more grateful, more God focused and Heaven minded, and more in love with my Heavenly Father than I knew possible.  I pray that my trust is unwavering, my faith more assured than before, that my soul’s full of hope, and that God’s glory can shine thru this broken earthly vessel.  But regardless of what changes take place, please know, you cannot expect me to be the same person. I am forever changed.
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5 Responses to 10 things bereaved parents wish you knew

  1. Thank you so much for posting this. As I read it, I heard the voices of three friends who have lost children in the last year and at times made me think of the other 20+ people I know that have lost loved ones (including myself) in the last year. It has really spoken to my heart.

    • Alisa says:

      Oh Charlotte, what kind words. You are so welcome, I’m glad it helped. Thank you for writing. And I am so sorry for your loss. This journey of grief is not an easy one. Hugs to you ❤

  2. Camille says:

    Your site was shared with me by Tracy. Your words are beautiful. This list is perfect. Thank you for sharing your heart. May the LORD continue to minister His grace to you moment by moment…one step at a time. He will never leave nor forsake you…what a precious, precious Truth! I am praying for you and your family today. In Him, Camille (Isaiah 43:1b-3a)

  3. Myfawnwy Stephenson says:

    Thank you for this. I found this through another lady’s blog. She has recently lost a son as I also have. I wish I could have passed this list out five years ago when we lost our 8th child(a son( during birth. This past Summer we lost our 16 yr. old in drowning accident. As I read this tears streamed down my face because every word is so true. Life becomes surreal after losing a child and I have drawn so much closer to my Saviour. Blessings,Muffy

    • Alisa says:

      Oh how I wish I could hug you, sit with you, cry with you, and hear all about your son. I wish I could say I can’t imagine what you’re going thru, but I can 😦 And it breaks my heart. Know that I am praying for you right now, and will continue to do so. You are right, life is surreal now, and it makes me long for Heaven in a way I never thought possible. And yes, without our Savior, we would be lost. Maybe someday we will meet, and give each other that ‘knowing’ hug. Until then, you will be in my thoughts and prayers. Hugs ❤

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