Losing your child is one of the most devastating things that can happen in life, and no parent can prepare for it, nor can it take away the pain and grief that comes with such tragedy.
However, we try to hard to say the right thing in such situations, to offer our sincere words of hope or support, and to try and take even a fraction of the pain away from our loved ones who have endured this nightmare. Most likely, though, we fail, because there’s really nothing one can say to a mother or a father who has lost their child. There are no magic words that can fix it, and we can’t even imagine what it feels like, because we won’t even allow ourselves to try to imagine it.
A very powerful message to bereaved parents, originally written by Susi Costello and published as “What I Wanted to Say” on the website A Bed for My Heart perfectly explains how inadequate language is under such circumstances:
The letter was shared by Facebook page The Ugly Shoes Club, where it received over 35k reactions and 26k shares.
When we don’t have the words, it’s much better just to admit it. In fact, it’s even better to skip those cliched phrases and platitudes that we think sound inspiring or helpful because it’s not the time to preach or to tell a parent that it will get better. It won’t.
No, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t say anything, because grieving parents definitely need support. However, it’s better to acknowledge their pain and offer to sit with them in their grief than offer your words of hope or inspiration.