Hey there little guy. It is early in the morning and I just had a very nice person come up to me and ask how I was doing these days in a way that let me know they were really interested in the answer...the real answer, not just me saying "ok" or "better" to just be polite. So, I thought about my list of stupid things people say and decided that a positive list deserved some space too. Here is my positive list of what people should say and/or do to help any grieving parent.
1. Say the child’s name (You were a real, living, breathing human being and your name was and is Colin)
2. Say “I’m sorry” or just give us a hug and say nothing (trust me, it is much easier than looking for more "profound" words)
3. Call, write, or email us to check in (we need as much love and support as possible)
4. If the parents have other children...spend time or more time with them (they are hurt too and need to be loved as much if not more than the parents)
5. Understand and be patient with our mood swings (We have good and bad days just like normal except for the bad days are far worse now...we need patience and understanding, not admonishment or abandonment because you can not deal with us)
6. Understand that we are different people now and relate to you and everyone else in a different way (Our lives have been drastically altered and we are the same people but now different people. If you think it is tough for you to understand, think about how we must feel)
7. Be silent and listen to the parent (This may be most important because we have a million thoughts at once and need to talk them out in order to preserve our sanity)
8. Research information about how to support bereaved parents (We do not know what in the world is going on either, so researching the cause of death, how to help us, and what to say/do and not say/do goes a long way in knowing how much you care)
9. Remember the children and mention them at holidays, family gatherings, their birthday, their death date and other occasions (Our children will always live in us, so talk about Colin on his special days too, it helps preserve his memory)
10. Create ways to memorialize/honor the child...Plant a tree, have a balloon release, donate to a cause, etc. (Again, keeping our children's memory alive is paramount to us)
Our grief will never “go away” or “get better,” it will just change over time. If you take the time to do some or all of the above, you will be a positive influence in our lives and not some distant invalidating memory during the worst experience of our lives.
There you go Colin, hopefully those who read this will get something out of it...and, if so, pass it along to others so that they can understand how to deal with us and keep your memory alive and strong.
Much love little man. I miss you!