If you know a mother who has recently lost a child, it may be difficult to grasp what she is going through or decide just how to show your support. Psychologist Margo F. Weiss for the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy says that the loss of a child is the most devastating experience a parent can face. In order to properly appreciate what your friend is experiencing, as well as show her the support she needs, it is important to learn what you can do that will bring her comfort.
1. Acknowledge Your Lack of Understanding
When your friend is grieving the loss of her child, you simply will not be able to understand what she is experiencing unless you, too, have lost a child. Psychologist Cara Barker, author and founder of The Love Project, encourages you to be honest and acknowledge the fact that you cannot comprehend her pain. Resist trying to comfort her by saying something like, "He is in a better place", as this takes the focus away from the fact that she is in the middle of the worst experience a mother can have.
2. Repeat What She Says
Re-state what your loved one tells you as she expresses her grief in order to demonstrate genuine concern. Irene S. Levine, psychologist and professor at New York University School of Medicine, suggests letting your friend do the talking as you sit back and listen. By carefully paying attention to her and repeating what she tells you, you are demonstrating the fact that you are truly listening to everything she is saying.
3. Offer Financial Support
Offering what little financial support you can may not always be beneficial or necessary, but may be surprisingly helpful in some cases. According to the Psychology Career Center, parents who are already in a stressful financial situation will now have additional financial stresses after the loss of their child, and this is especially so if they cannot cover funeral expenses. Although you may not be able to help much, even a little assistance may go a long way and help relieve some of the financial burden your friend is experiencing.
4. Help Her Take Care of Herself
If you notice your friend has not been eating or sleeping regularly, encourage her to take the time to care for herself during this devastating period in life. Edward T. Creagan states on "MayoClinic" that it is important to get adequate sleep, consume a healthy diet and have physical activity in your daily routine, even during a grieving period. Because grief consumes a significant amount of physical energy, it is easy to let go of yourself. Remind your friend that her well-being and health are especially important during this delicate time.
- When The Bough Breaks: Forever After the Death of a Son or Daughter; Judith R. Bernstein
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