7 Things Never to Tell A Grieving Parent

August 14, 2017by Wanjiku J. Kiarie0

A few months ago we lost an angel in our ‘family’. I say family in quotes because this family is one though we are not related by blood has become more than blood family to me, to us. You know those people you meet and something happens, a connection that you cannot explain that binds you for life – yes – that is my ‘family’. There was a meme doing rounds a few moons back that said if you have been my friend for more than five years, you’re my cousin – you are officially my family. During the mourning period lots of words meant to comfort I presume were being said left right and center. But I felt most of these were not helpful at all, took me back to my loss of children and it would seem some of these phrases are standard – sadly so ???

As happens when a loved one, a friend, a colleague, a parishioner or a neighbor has lost life appropriate words are not easy to come by. Many people feel the urge to break the silence and in so doing end up saying such injurious things to the bereaved that it would have been better if they kept quiet. There is something in us humans that deceives us that we are only consoling the bereaved when we are talking: that was me until I was on the receiving end of such talk. I learnt the hard way, silence is golden!

Here are the 7 things to never tell a grieving parent.

1. You are young

OK. Let us breath in and out. I am young so what???? What does my age have to do with the current loss I am experiencing? Seriously who came up with this line?

Most the people who dish out this line are older people. I think they use it to communicate fertility and long life lies ahead of the parent experiencing child loss, but in all honesty it feels like an attack on the parent.

Child loss is not a respecter of the age of the parent. Being young does not in any way minimize the pain, the hollowness and the grieving process of the parent.

2. Roman 8:28 – All things work for good . . .

This is an all time favorite with the Christians. I feel like they all memorize it outside the home of the bereaved because it is the first thing that comes out of their mouths after greeting the bereaved. I am a Christian, do not get me wrong. I believe in God’s Word and Romans 8:28 is God’s Word. My problem is the abuse and misuse of the verse.

I have a suggestion for the lovers of this verse, try going up two verses ahead Romans 8:26-27 and use those next time you visit a with a grieving person.

3. You will get another child

The first time I was told this I froze, literally. I though I heard wrong. How could someone come to my house and tell me something like this and think that it would console me, how?

So if I get another child, the loss of my child disappears or how exactly does this work?

These are the ones that come back after God blesses you with another child and tell you to stop mourning your previous loss/es. Because your rainbow baby is supposed to wipe out the memory of the one who died.

This kind of thinking depresses me. I feel it is this flow of thought that has many women, many parents bottle up the pain, the longing they so often feel when they remember their dead children. It is this kind of responses that has made miscarriages into a taboo word, sadly so.

No life can be a replacement of another life. each life is unique and each life needs to be treated as such with dignity and respect – and life begins at conception.

4. This was God’s will

Ooooh wow, it is God’s will that I had a miscarriage; my child choking to death; for my child to be born with a defect? Thanks for letting me know, I had no idea! Pray do tell me more  . . .

Once again this line is a speciality of Christians. I repeat again, silence is golden. You do not have to say anything. It is such statements that have led many a grieving parents to have a faith crisis – some even doubting this kind of God that wills suffering and death of little children.

5. At least you have another child

Refer to 3 above. This one is dished out when the parent has another/other children. Again I reinstate, every life is unique.

My living children do not negate in any way the fact that I have lost a child neither does it delete the emotions that accompany such a loss of life.

6. This is nothing, others have had worse

Let us get this straight, grief is personal. So please do not go around comparing and weighing grief. Every individual feels and deals with grief differently. And no grief is higher than the other.

To think that telling a grieving parent about the losses of other people is comforting is a very sad reality for me. It feels more like minimalising their situation in a way letting them know that as far as you are concerned what they are going through is nothing.

7. Don’t cry so much

Thank you very much. What should I do?

Let the bereaved cry, let the tears flow. It cleanses the heart, it relieves emotions it provides healing.

Leave the grieving parent to cry, without interrupting this expression of grief.


REMEMBER: In consoling with the bereaved – SILENCE IS GOLDEN

Do not give in to the urge to dictate the mood and events, follow the leading of the grieving parent.

If you are uncomfortable engaging in a ‘staring contest’ with the grieving parent, get busty around the house. The is always something to do in such a home, find it then do it.


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