What to write to bereaved parents – Part Two

It’s one thing to write about what to write in general terms. But when it happens to you, and the deceased child is a relative, wow – does that really bring it home.

What to write to bereaved parents

My cousin whom we lost a few days ago aged just 31. What the hell can I say to his parents? What can anyone anyone say to his parents that might help them?

On Tuesday this week I sat in my car after attending an excellent business networking launch of a new group and, feeling in a good mood, I took my phone off “silent” and looked through my messages.

One from one of my favourite cousins, a French-speaking Belgian (my mother was Belgian) began with the words – in French – “I am devasted to tell you that our son was killed in a motorcycle accident in the Philippines on Sunday.”

He was 31 years old. [Read more…]

What to write to someone whose child has died

Have you ever said or written something, trying to be helpful when someone’s child has died, only to realise that was probably the worst thing you could have done?

what to write to bereaved parents

Nothing can possibly replace or compensate for the child they lost.

Some years ago my next-door neighbours got married. As we lived in adjacent terrace/town houses, were good friends, and it was summer, we opened up both homes for a circular party which went on until well into the next day and on arising that next morning I found various sleeping bodies in my house with no idea who the hell they were.

No worries: all were wedding guests and the bride, groom, my partner and I managed to make a hangover-curing breakfast for all before booting them out and returning to bed to catch up on sleep. The wife was pregnant at the time. At full term she went into labour, and delivered their son, Jack. He died a few hours later. [Read more…]

What to write when someone’s child has died

I will never, never forgive myself for once writing an email to a couple whose premature baby died just a few hours after he was born. In it I wrote, “never mind, you’re young. You can have another one.”  Stupid, ignorant, idiotic cow that I was.

what to write when a child dies

“We need your support, patience, understanding, love and friendship…” Dawn Allen, bereaved parent

At the time, I hadn’t become a parent. And unless you are a parent, it’s hard to understand just what agony the loss of a baby can cause – whether via a miscarriage (even an early one), via an actual birth, and of course later on through childhood and beyond.

It was only once I had a child of my own that it dawned on me what a vile, thoughtless and cruel thing that was to say. Here’s what I have learned that may stop you making similar mistakes… [Read more…]

What to write when someone has died

died,deceased,passed away,write,condolence,sympathies

Update October 2015: please note that although this article is still helping many people like you, I have written an updated article on this topic which includes more information about what to write in our increasingly important online environment. Click here to see that article.

Ah, this is a difficult one – when someone has died and you want to write a letter of sympathy with his or her relatives and friends.

For a list of all 12 articles in this series on how to write well to people dealing with death, bereavement and other life sadness, click here. 

[Read more…]

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