What Bereaved Parents Want You to Know (but may not say)

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People of faith who have lost a child are often seen as brave and strong.
We have been through something that no parent wants to experience: the death of a child.

We are not strong or brave. We endure because we must; we have no choice. We have other family members that need us. We have “good works which God prepared in advance for us to do”. We have jobs and homes to care for. We cannot just give up, find a hole to crawl in, and quit living — though we sometimes wish we could.

We are walking through life because that is what we do – we go on. We live. We breathe. We work. And we attend church and school functions because we must. We know that God called our child Home and left us here on earth for His purpose. We know we must persevere and trust Him to help us and to heal us. We do not go on because we are tough or brave or strong. Because the truth is that we are none of those things.  We are most often weak, and tired, and broken.

Our reality is often different than what we show our friends, our coworkers, and the public around us.

We rarely show others the true depth of our pain. It is too personal and too raw to show others who have not experienced it themselves; we know that people cannot understand the sorrow of losing a child unless they have walked this path. And we hope and pray that none of our friends ever go through what we have experienced.

The truth is that if someone you love has buried their child, they probably won’t be completely open about what they’re going through because they’re trying so hard to just function and hold it together.

They are trying not to “lose it” in front of you.

We know how uncomfortable our pain is to others. It is a reminder that you, too, could lose a child in an accident or to an illness. It could be your child in the wrong place/wrong time or in the wrong relationship resulting in his or her death. Our pain reminds you that you could someday bury your child.

We know that our pain also makes you feel helpless – there is nothing that you or anyone else can do to change our situation. Our child is gone. We will not see him again until our great reunion in Heaven.

For some, it reminds you that you have also lost a friend, a student, or coworker. It brings up your own pain and grief when you see us cry or see the sorrow in our eyes. We don’t want to cause you that pain or make you uncomfortable with our grief.

We also don’t want to “lose it” because it is so hard to get control once the tears start flowing.

At first, the tears of a bereaved parent are not “healing tears”. They are tears of a deep, intense sorrow like none other. They are exhausting and embarrassing. We have had friends try to comfort us and tell us it will be okay. It will not be okay! Our child is dead! As time goes on, and if we do the right kinds of “soul care” to help us heal, the tears change to healing tears. But it takes a long time.

We are afraid, sometimes, that if the tears start, they won’t stop. So we try hard not to let them start.

And the tears remind us of that horrible physical grief-pain that lasted so long.  We are reminded of waking up to realize this is not some terrible nightmare. It is our reality now. We are bereaved parents.

 
So we hide our pain.

We smile and laugh and go on living. We thank you when you tell us again how sorry you are and how much you miss our kid. We tell you we are doing well and that God is good.

God IS good. He IS faithful. He IS healing our broken hearts. We DO have joy and peace.  We DO have moments of happiness and fun-filled laughter. We will be healed and go on living.  But our life has changed and we will never be quite the same as we were before burying our child.

As a result, bereaved parents aren’t completely honest with you.  However, if we could be truly honest and vulnerable, we would tell you:

1. Don’t wait for me to call you. Please call me every once in a while. I know you told me to call if I ever needed anything, but it’s hard to call and ask when I am hurting so badly. I don’t want to appear weak. Or pathetic.  And I don’t seem to have the strength to ask anyone to do things with me.  Sometimes just returning a text is too hard.  But I need you to keep trying, to keep calling.  Call with a specific plan like “can you go to lunch at 11:30 next Tuesday?”, not just “let’s have lunch sometime”. I will get better and want to go with you to that dinner, movie, or play some day.  And if I say “no thanks” this time, I need you to ask again. I need you to call me just to chat, even when I may not feel like chatting. I need you to call me to help me remember that the world continues to turn and life goes on and that you want me to be a part of it. (Give them a call)

2. Listen. Really listen. And please don’t assume that because you read my blog or Facebook posts that you know how I feel. I don’t even know how I feel sometimes! And I am not completely honest on Facebook; no one is. I may appear to be doing really well based on social media when, in reality, I am struggling. I need friends who are willing to listen to me without correction or platitudes. Listen as I talk about my kid, yet again.  I will thank you for taking time to listen to me. I will appreciate your patience and caring enough to listen when I need to talk. And I will try to listen to you when you are in need. (God did not need my son in heaven)

3. Don’t assume my tears are because of grief.  Even though the loss of a child is not something we just get over, grief is not always what is bothering me. I may be having an “off day” because I feel ill, or because I had a disagreement with my spouse, or because we are having trouble with one of our other children. Don’t assume that my issues or prayer requests are always because I buried my son. Ask me. I need you to let me have emotions and experiences that have little or nothing to do with grief. And please don’t tell me it’s going to be okay.  Let me be honest with you about my emotions without trying to fix them.

4. Don’t ask me about how I feel. That is a very hard question to answer honestly.  Some days are good, some are bad. Some moments are good and the next may be terrible. Ask me what I have been doing lately or what plans I have for the upcoming week. Ask me what I am studying or what my kids are doing. Ask me almost anything, but please don’t ask me how I feel. (What NOT to say to a grieving family)


5. Be patient with me and forgive me when I am rude or short with you. The death of a child changes one in ways you cannot imagine. And one does not “get over it”. Not in six months, not in a year, not ever. For some, the grief lasts a very long time. Our child is frequently on our minds. We may forget for a little while, but even small things can remind us that they are gone. If I snap at you, or ignore you, or seem unhappy, please give me some grace. It is most likely not about you at all.

6.  Forgive me if I am not interested in small talk.  Losing a child changes our perspective regarding what is important. We don’t seem to care about “trivial things” anymore.  I really do want to listen to you and care about those things that matter to you. But sometimes I just don’t see the point of talking about stuff I can’t do anything about. My perspective has changed; time is short. I want to care about what the Father cares about. I want to care about and think about eternal things.

7.  Forgive me if I am forgetful. Grief often causes what if called “Grief Brain”. If I forget a date or a meeting, forgive me. And know that I am doing my best. If I supposed to be at something important, you may want to send me a text reminder. I will appreciate the help.

8.  Know that I will forgive you. Don’t avoid me because you don’t know what to say. I will try to give you grace when you say hurtful things, because you will. We all do. We don’t know what to say around bereaved parents. That’s okay. I will be glad you have taken time to be with me and that you tried.

9.  Talk about my child.  And let me talk about him.  He was a huge part of my life. He still is. It helps to talk about him.  And I love that you have stories to tell me that I did not know!  If I begin to tear up, know that you did not cause my pain. My child’s death caused my pain. I will pull it together after a few tears or I will excuse myself and find a place for a good cry.  It really is healing to know that others care about and miss my child. (Please Mention Andrew)

10.  Don’t talk about my child.  There are times when I just need to talk about something else.  I want to hear about your family, your children, your life.  I want to talk about that new study I am doing or the trip we have planned.  How do you know whether to talk or not talk about my child?  Listen for clues: if I ask you about your family, talk about that.  If I am especially quiet, ask if I want to talk about him or ask me what I would like to talk about. (And know that I don’t always know what I want.) When at social events, I sometimes just enjoy listening to others talk. Don’t try to make me join in; let me have some room to just listen.

11. Give me time.  Grief does not have a timetable.  The loss of child is something I will be dealing with the rest of my life.   I know that God is good, faithful, kind, compassionate and loving.  I know that He will help me through this.  But I need time.  Some of us heal quickly, some take longer.  Some days the burden is light; other days it is unbearable.  Please ask me to participate in activities with you, but understand that when I say no, it is not about you.  It may just be the grief.  It may just be too hard for me right then.  But please ask again. And again. (How are you? No, really! How are you?)

12. Church is particularly difficult.  We may not know why, but we tend to get emotional at church. Even those of us who never cried at church before often cry now.  It is not that we are sad in church. It is just that being in worship, singing, and being in His presence bring the emotions to the surface.  For us, the reality of Heaven, Hell and life after death is more pronounced.  We are often overwhelmed by God’s love and greatness.  By His omnipotence.  By His grace and love that caused Him to send His only Son to die for me.  The reality of all of this is so…well, REAL!  If we cry at church, don’t try to comfort us and tell us it’s going to be okay or that you understand.  Just let us cry.  Offer a tissue and maybe a gentle hug.  Allow us to worship, even through our tears.  If a bereaved parent attends church alone, ask if you may sit by her.  And just be near.  Or better yet, offer to pick her up and let her ride with you. After service, don’t make light our messed up makeup or runny nose.  Give us a few moments to pull ourselves together.  Again, a gentle hug and an “I love you” or “I’m sorry you are hurting. I miss him, too” goes a long way. (Tears in Church, Tears in Church Part Two)

13. My kids are hurting.  They lost their brother, their friend.  They may not show it, but they are hurting.  They don’t want to be known as “the dead kid’s sister” or “the one whose brother died”.  They are still who they were before with the same interests and talents.  They still need to be with friends and enjoy life apart from their grief. They don’t want to talk their sibling or his death and don’t want you to bring it up. Except when they want you to talk about him or bring it up.  Be patient with them.  See items 1-12. (Supporting a teen or young adult)

14. Dads hurt as much as moms, they just don’t often show it. See items 1-12.

15. God is still on the throne. Though our child has died, we still know that God is God. Or maybe because we have experienced this life-changing event, we believe more strongly in the sovereignty of God. We know we are not in control; God is. Our faith may be tested, but we choose to believe. And because of our faith, we will be able to go on living. (Grate

One thing I have heard myself saying to my husband recently is that I want to live until I die.  I don’t want grief to paralyze me.  It has changed me, but I don’t want it to stop me from living a full and joyful life. The death of my son has made me realize how precious life is and how it can be gone in a moment. I want my friends to see how precious their children are.  I want young people to stop making stupid choices.  I want those I love to live a full and Spirit-filled life!  I want you to know the Creator and to know that He loves you!  Even when ugly things happen – and they will happen – God is beautiful and caring and loving and compassionate and gracious!

Christ said, “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life”.

Choose Christ and all that He is and all that He has to give!

Live well, my friends.  Live well.

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If you have lost a baby, you may want to read and share What Parents with a Baby in Heaven May Want You to Know

The Day My LIfe Changed Forever

If you have experienced the death of a child may I introduce you to While We’re Waiting? They are a faith-based ministry to bereaved parents. You can find them on Facebook and at www.whilewerewaiting.org

God’s Healing in Grief is also available on Amazon.

166 thoughts on “What Bereaved Parents Want You to Know (but may not say)

  1. Kathleen ~~ This is well written, may good and spot on points. I personally was able to read and know, as I have been told by my son’s sisters… #13 — My kids are hurting… they don’t want to be known as the sister of the boy who was murdered. …. (in my family’s case). Thank you for writing this, as it does me well… as we come up on 5 years (Sept. 8).

    May our hearts stay connected.

    Kathleen

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  2. 5 yrs in August the 29th I lost my 17yr old daughter. I hated God quit church. I have been in the valley of the shadow of death many times and lived through it. I got my faith back a couple yrs later and now serve Ty he Lord as much as possible, this hate is common to many bereaved parents. I just hope like me they come out of it. I have a Facebook pg called Hearts for Bereaved to try to help these people in grief. 200 members in a yr and a half.I’ve done my best to make her loss positive for others even with the scarred heart. Love to all – – – Dan Dry

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  3. I lost my daughter to suicide at the age of 39. My heart is forever broken. Her husband was forcing her to go to rehab and instead she took her life. I prayed on Sunday for God to give her a new life and she took her life on Monday, I got to her before she died and I screamed for her to call out to God and my son got on the floor with her and told her to give her heart to God. I was so angry with God for allowing this to happen and he reminded me that I had asked for Him to give her a new life and she now has a new life with me. Our life has forever been changed but our God is so good. Prayers for all of you.

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  4. I never got to enjoy my son, Grant that I lost on 3/13/15! You see he was still born when I was 28 weeks pregnant! I have felt that my small talk has changed! I have so many of these that I thought I was all alone in it! I have had several nightmares where I hear a baby crying moma and I am fighting to get to him. I have felt like I am losing my mind! I feel like I am forgetful and cant remember anything! I have faced anger I am just now able to go in his room where his crib is! Seems like everyone has there reason to think time heals all wounds but, right now I aint at that point! I want my baby back! Thanks for this it really means that I am not alone in this grief process and that yes I will see Grant Coleman again! Thank you!

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  5. Just lost my 20-year-old son last month. While I agree with the main thrust of this article, I don’t wish to develop a checklist of DOs and DO-NOTs for my friends and family to follow. I’m just thankful to have great friends and family, brothers and sisters in Christ. But it’s true: the early tears are not healing tears; they are tears of deep regret.

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  6. Thank you for your feed back at least I know Im not by myself Im so sorry for your loss of your daughter and thats exactly what Ive done is to be strong to carry the grief and choose to live as I like to say “keep it moving one day at a time”!!

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  7. Thank you!! You said words and spoke emotions so true to my heart. My daughter Kiersten “Roo” died 5 years ago next week though suicide. Time has not lessened the fact that I live without one of my children. I am stronger to carry the grief that is it. I choose to live.

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  8. My daughter was murdered in January of 2015 and life is life I havent been able to mourn her I feel like I have to keep it moving and do what Ive always done hold everything together! I had her cremated and I’ve got her here with me! To bring me some kind of I don’t know if she had been with me this wouldn’t of happened! Marque was only 23 yrs old and has a baby Marquel who is 3 so Im still process of taking care and fighting for where she would want her son to go. Gods will maybe with me maybe not. Trying to be part of that and will until its settled!! Im hoping Ill be able to grieve her when this is all said and done!! I feel like this is a must!!

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  9. Hi Kathleen, A friend sent me a link to your post. I am so sorry for your loss. I lost my oldest son, Brandon in 2010 while he was home on leave from the Army. Your posted echoed many of the thoughts I wrote about in my article on MindBodyGreen this past March. I thought you might have seen it as well, I have posted a link below. Thank you for your work and supported bereaved parents. http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-17928/what-i-wish-more-people-understood-about-losing-a-child.html

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  10. Thank you for this post – my wife passed it along to me. Our 27 year old son lost his ten year battle with cancer last month.

    I had spent a lot of time with him during his illness, especially the last two months. We had many good conversations about life, death, spiritual matters, and just daily stuff. We watched sports together and made memories (for me) until the last. I shared two things at the end of his memorial service:

    1. Because of that time together, I had no regrets about things left unsaid. My mother died suddenly many years ago and there are many conversations with her that I never had. Don’t let things come between you and your family or close friends. YOU make the move to forgive, to love, and to be present.

    2. Related to this, I thought what a shame that it takes a terminal illness to bring people together. We all think we have one more day with someone – until we don’t … If you are the parent, don’t let your adolescent or adult children slip away. Kids, stay close to your parents and siblings. Make your time together count.

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  11. As I continue to deal with the lost of my 26 year old son Kyle 4 years ago this is the first time I have felt like someone other than those who have been through it will understand. Thank you for sharing. God is so good and continues to carry me through each day until I meet Him and Kyle again.

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  12. We lost our son and brother almost 6 months ago. God has already been working through our loss in the hearts of others. Our other son has decided to take college courses in hopes of getting a youth pastor certificate. He wants others to have the security that we have that we will see Logan again. Thank you for sharing and God is still on the throne!

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  13. I lost my daughter and my grandsons in February who were murdered by the husband/father who then committed suicide. My pain is unbearable, everything is a reminder. I have many friends to love and support me, but there is not a day that goes by without tears. This post was exactly how I feel. Thanks for putting into words how we feel after such a painful loss

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  14. I am so happy you posted this. I have not lost a child; although I did lose a grandchild who died before he was born. In addition, I have two friends who have lost children. So often, when we are faced with a friend or loved one who has lost someone, we try to comfort and yet I think we often fall short. It is hard to know what to do in a situation we are unfamiliar with. Your post helps us know how to empathize. Thank-you for sharing your heart.

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  15. Kathleen, your words are very powerful. They expressed what is exactly on my heart. My son went to heaven in 2011, the day after his 12th birthday. Thank you for sharing and giving me the right words to share with family and friends. Truly the hand of God was apparent in your words. May you be encouraged and blessed for sharing..

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  16. Thank you for this post. My friend shared it with me. She lost both her sons to MD. I lost my son almost 3 mos ago from a surfing accident. We lost our nephew one year prior to our son from a drunk driver. I have been on the fringe of this depth of grief and now living it. I lost some time years ago to being angry at God for a failed marriage. I am thankful that I have not become angry at Him for Bryan’s death. However, my lack of anger does not mean I am not in pain. This grief can be suffocating. Thank you for speaking truth in this situation. It is a journey I never wanted to take and probably lived in a false sense of security that our family was covered because of our nephew. Your words spoke straight to my heart.

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  17. Sandy

    I lost my son May 4, 2015. My husband found him dead in his bed, he was 44. I have so many mixed feelings, grief is overwhelming, I miss him so much. They are still investigating his death, we don’t know what happened at this time. I am participating in therapy with Hospice therapist, trying to deal with this overwhelming grief. I’m praying for God’s comfort, but so far that’s not happening. The words you spoke in your blog were comforting, it’s hard to share these feelings with others, I write about my grief on fb, but I don’t think anyone understands unless they’ve been through this horrible ordeal.

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  18. I loved the post. Although I have not lost a child, my brother has, and my sister has, and now most recently, my parents have. Which means, though I have not lost a child, I lost a twin. Know that everything you have said about the loss of a child is enlightening to me in two ways. 1. I want to help my parents and my sister, but like most of us, I never know what to say. I try to keep it light and easy, try for a laugh or two, but never know if what I am trying to do is helping in any way. I cannot imagine the horrible reality of the loss of a child. 2. I have lost someone, and though its not a child, all of what you wrote is also what I feel and I could not have said it any better. Thank you

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    • Trish, I am sorry about your twin. I hurt for my adult children. They miss their brother. I can’t know their, or your, pain. Thank you for wanting to help your family who have lost children. Blessings.

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    • sometimes we just want someone to cry with us and who better for me than the one who lost her twin who is also my son. somedays it is still so hard, bt like the article said, we have others that depend on us and I guess this is a good thing or we would not be able to go on.I knoe you miss him as much as I do Trish. He was on of a kind! I love you my daughter

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  19. Thank you for your words—our daughter was killed in an auto accident three and a half months ago—still very, very raw—-words from parents who have been on our path helps to know, for sure, that we are not alone as we travel this most difficult road without our precious Angie. Hoping to find a way for pain and joy to coexist within us.

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    • Cassie, you are still very new to this journey. Please, please, please do not listen to those who say the pain never gets better! It can! I have experienced healing!

      Know that God is the source of life, joy, and peace! Turn to Him daily and let Him do a work in your broken heart!

      I will pray for you today.

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  20. This is the Best I have read since my Son Robert Passed away 9 mths. ago and gives me better understanding of myself and others. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joyce,

      I know many who were helped by Grief Share. Some even go through the class a few times. Grief is a process that takes times. I pray for you and all of us as we heal.

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  21. I lost my first born son Ed on 12/22/10, he was a FF, he was 47 when the Good Lord called him to Heaven. Another FF was killed in the line of duty with another Ed,Corey and the loss of these two brave men, doing a job they both loved was devastating to many people. That dreadful day devastated me for a long time, and as you may have already figured out I still have bad days and have realized these bad days will come/go as long as I’m alive. I attended GriefShare meetings and at first I was so devastated and don’t believe I got much out of them. I continued on/off to attend these meetings for sometime and as time has passed, I have begun the journey from mourning to joy. The pain I felt on that dreadful day was tremendous as were the days following, the wake/funeral were outstanding and the outpouring of love from so many was beautiful. However, at that time I don’t believe I comprehended the compassion that was shown. It is almost 4 1/2 yrs. since that dreadful day and I miss my son Ed each and every second of each and every day, but, Ed would not want me to continue mourning his death, he would want me to live each and every day and have joy in my life. I can say GriefShare helped me tremendously to find joy again. And, I can smile now and remember the life Ed lived and know that one day I will see him again when it is my time. For any parent to lose a child is not something I would ever want, unfortunately it happens and somehow we go on. My heart truly goes out to anyone who loses a loved one, especially a parent. I don’t mean to minimize anyones loss, so, please don’t misunderstand me. Thank you for your kind thoughts/words and I honestly hope more people can show more compassion whenever anyone loses a loved one, close friend, etc..

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  22. Thank you for your post. Since 2010 I have lost several friends to car wrecks and accidents and I struggle with my own grief, dealing with people who thought I would get over the grief in weeks or months (or years), and being a good listener and friend to my friends’ families. It is simply hard. Brutal on holidays because of the empty seats and the fact that some of the deaths happened over the holidays themselves. Sometimes it seems like every new season opens up a fresh wound: graduations, weddings, births. I look around for my friends, but they are gone. To be honest, the hope of heaven is seldom a comfort because I am still down here.
    I was devastated and require(d) therapy – as a friend, not a parent or sibling. I don’t pretend to understand the pain of a parent or sibling. I simply stumble my way through those relationships and try to hold my tongue to keep from saying something insensitive.

    Your post is rich in insight, and one quote that resonates deeply with me is wanting to “live until I die.” I am alive, I want to be alive, and I want to do what I can to love the hurting people around me.

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  23. Pingback: What bereaved parents want you to know (but may not say) | Living with Grief. One Father's Journey

  24. Thank you for your wonderful words. God is using you to help others. I love the 2 Psalms you speak of as well. I lost my 27 year old son Adam just four years ago in April. Sometimes the pain hits like a tidal wave, other times I go through life trying to live the best I can for my family. I always say, “God did not take my son, He received him.” I will see him again. God has helped me through this process of healing that is ongoing. We will never be quite the same but I am thankful for each day that He gives each one of my family.

    May God Bless you.

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  25. I lost my precious son 5 years ago. He was handicapped and life hadn’t been easy for either of us. It has left such a hole in my life and I wonder if I will ever find a new normal. If it wasn’t for antidepressants I would never get out of bed. Thankfully I have a very flexible job that I can work the hours I want to as long as I get my job done. If I had to punch a time clock at a certain time everyday I would of been fired a long time ago. Some days are better than others and some months are easier to walk through than others. I want to choose life but seem incapable of moving forward at times. Thanks for this info.

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  26. I lost my son 23 years ago. Dereck was only 5 when he passed, he stepped out in front of a truck and in a split second my life changed. I did donate his organs wanting something positive out of something so negative. There still isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of him in someway . It is something you never get over you just learn to deal with it better as time goes on.

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    • Karen,

      How wonderful that you could donate his organs and help other families! We could not; the accident prevented them from reaching the bodies early enough to keep to the organs viable. That is my one regret. Blessings.

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  27. I loss my frist born son.he was ,31 wben he passed .he is the frist of four boys.eveday is a hard day fr me.he ead born 3-3-82 passed September 23 2013

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  28. Your blog is right on ! I have lost a son and a nephew and the pain never goes away! Life does goes on and GOD is good but there is always a hole in your heart that never heals. I think people that have lost a child see life differently than others do. I feel more compassionate and caring for others that are going through difficult times and I show it in many ways(fixing meals,calling,sending cards etc.). My sister and I love life and do look forward to seeing our sons someday! We both still have a lot of living to do! Praise God!

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  29. Much of this is absolutely right on. My son’s Official date of death is March 3, 2015. That was the day I walked into his home that he shared with his two furry kids, his kitty cats and walked into his bedroom to find him on his bed obviously deceased from a self-inflicted gunshot to his head. He had been dead for at least three weeks. That sight and the smell is something I will never ever be able to forget. I knew he might die by suicide for a long time as he had attempted several times before. He had suffered with seizures for almost thirty years as the results of an auto accident when he was only eighteen. He had a difficult time with socialization and keeping jobs because of his having seizures in spite of having two college degrees. He started self-medicating with alcohol and different medications. In spite of mine and others attempts to get him to seek professional help, he did try this several times, he just didn’t like the antidepressants prescribed or want to stick with treatment. Even though he did have his own home and his “independence” he was very dependent on me for being there for him at all times when he wanted to “talk” about things and ask advice, which he seldom took. His father and I were divorced when he was eleven and he didn’t have a relationship with his father. He never married or had any children. I did understand his loneliness and his challenges and I tried to be the best Mom I could be, but I feel like I failed him and I will always feel a responsibility for his choosing to take his own life. I remarried soon after my divorce and my husband of almost thirty seven years has been very supportive, but I feel like I have been going through this grief process alone and on my own. I try to be strong so that I can there for my two daughters in their grief. You are right that loosing a child changes you forever. I feel as if I have lost who I was and I am not sure who I am any more even though I try to be the person I remember I was. Is this normal, or am I loosing “it”????? I keep his ashes in my bedroom with his picture beside it. I talk to him frequently like he can hear me. I cry almost every day and most of the time it seems like he is just away temporarily even though I know he is gone. I “inherited his two cats and they seem to have adjusted well. They survived because he opened cat food containers for them and filled the sinks with water. I am the only one that doesn’t seem to be adjusting well. I will be glad when the day comes and I get to go to Heaven to be reunited with him. I am sorry I have rambled on.

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    • I encourage you to find a Grief Share group near you. Having others to talk with – those who have walked this road ahead of us – can help us find healing/ I pray you find peace and comfort.

      I find studying the psalms and other parts of the Bible help me greatly. Knowing the truth of God’s character gives me hope and life. I especially like Psalm 139 & 103.

      Like

  30. I #FightLikeLeeky! Every day i wake up just to get out of bed is a win. I love my baby. I am still a mom and he is still my son. My hero my angel my baby.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. I suffered the loss of my 18-month old granddaughter to cancer of the eye. And I also suffered with my daughter as she experienced her loss. That was two years ago. Somehow I get the feeling that all of my Christian friends think I should be over it by now – not hardly …

    Liked by 1 person

  32. You are spot on. I lost my son nine years ago this month, just shy of his 17th birthday and wish I had been able to put down words as eloquently as you do my new friend. This time of year I tend to get weepy and depressed and it always punches me in the face that June is associated with the worse day of my life and that of the rest of our family. We have always spent Jordan’s anniversary at the beach, his favorite place in the world, but this year we are not able to go. I feel the grief creeping up on my like a hurricane. I am rambling aren’t I? I am so grateful to you for sharing your journey with me and putting MY feelings down in black and white. I am forever grateful !!!!! FOREVER !!!!
    Juanita Gooding

    Liked by 1 person

  33. It will be 13 years this September that we lost our daughter. You have absolutely hit the nail on the head with this description. I thank God that I have a few friends that knew exactly what to say and do and they have been my lifeline on many occasions. I feel for others as they do struggle with what to say and do and after years have past, I think that because we are able to continue “going on”, they think we are “better”. There is no better, just a new normal. Many times people have said I don’t know how you do it and our answer is God sustains us. That is even hard for many to understand because as most say, they don’t think they would survive if something happens to their child. For those of us that are living this, we know that yes, you will. But it is very, very hard. I have said it many times to people that the greatest loss most people will ever have is the loss of a parent or a spouse and that is hard too. We would never wish this on anyone so that is the best explanation I can give to them as how we feel. Even though we know this pain is much, much deeper than that, (and i can say that because I have lost both parents) most (thankfully!) will never truly grasp the depths of this pain. I loved the sibling aspect of this, because truer words were never spoken. Our son says very little, but we know the loss of a sibling as affected him too.

    Whenever we are introduced to new people, I always feel like the unspoken words are we are the “ones who lost a daughter” or after we walk away that is what people say. We will forever be “those poor people”.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Donna,

      It is hard to meet new people – do we tell them right away? or wait to see if we will become friends? It is hard for our other kids as well. Do they tell new friends what they have been though? So many new feeling, new thoughts, new and deeper emotions.

      Blessings to you.

      Like

      • The hardest question for me is “How many kids do you have?” I want to be honest and tell them I have 5 kids, but I then need to go into details about how one of them went to be with Jesus. It immediately brings up the “I’m so sorry for you loss” statement and the whole mood changes. I don’t want to bring people down, but I also refuse to let Micah not be my child anymore, so people have to just tough it out with me.

        Like

        • Mike, I always reply that I have 2 sons……one lives in Lampasas and the other lives with Jesus. No details needed unless asked, and then you have the choice to explain or not.

          Like

  34. Love it, I would love to print it and put a copy in all my Christmas cards. Very wise and truthful comments in there. Our daughter was killed in a car driven by her cousin, just being silly teenagers, going too fast, and not experienced enough to control the car when it got out of hand. It’s still hard today, she died in 1991. Thank you for sharing this, it made me cry, but God know the our pain and he will see us through life’s trials.

    Like

  35. Although I have not lost a child ,I did loose my husband many years ago… I feel as though this hits home with me as well.. it is so true from beginning to the end of it…especially about it being difficult to ask for help and the fear of my kids being known only for their loss..I felt as though we were looked at with pitty from others much of the time and many times still are..I think this is spot on with all who have experienced loosing someone close to them.

    Like

  36. This has been a rare occurrence to find a blog that truly says how I feel. I lost my entire family 9 years ago. My husband, and my two children, Jesse, 11, and Millie, 10. I was the only survivor of our truck being hit head-on by a semi-truck. I also lost my dog, Charlie, and we were moving, so all our belongings are gone, as well. I have no reservations in saying I have wished many times that the rescuer had never pulled me out of that truck. He pulled me out just before the truck went up in flames. I have memories of my children still alive in that truck and me, not being able to do anything to help them.
    Thank you, Kathleen, for representing grief as it truly is. I have bitten my tongue so many times when people say that they have an ‘angel child’. It frustrates me. My family is higher than the angels. I have also had people say they wish I could be like I used to be. Really? I have yet to find a ‘new normal’, as everyone wishes I could. There is no normal anymore. Grief is a heavy, dark cloud that is weighing on me at all times. I have a better relationship with God than I did before, just for the simple reason that I have to talk with Him and rely on Him every second of every day. I have had others tell me that I will come out of this a better person. And I wonder, ‘What kind of person was I to have my family killed so that I will become a better person?’
    Kathleen, I thank you for your blog and for speaking out about some very personal grief issues. I will give you credit for a few points I would like to share with friends on Facebook. Please keep writing because we need you.
    Brenda

    Liked by 1 person

    • Brenda.

      Oh! I hurt with you!

      Some if other articles address the things people say. God is not punishing us for something we did wrong. He did not take our kids, or your family, just to make us better people. We live in a world where sin and death are daily present. As a result, good people suffer. But we never suffer alone!

      Blessings. And thank you for your kind words of encouragement.

      Like

        • Karl,

          Of course they do! Because we live in a world with sin and death, we all suffer to some degree; good and bad people will face challenges and trials.

          We can all have peace and joy in Christ. He made these available through His suffering, death and resurrection.

          My point was that some seem to think that if we are good enough we will not suffer. Clearly not true.

          Like

    • Brenda, your words hurt me to the core, when you said, ” I have had others tell me that I will come out of this a better person. And I wonder, ‘What kind of person was I to have my family killed so that I will become a better person?’” People have no idea why saying, “you will be a better person” is so devastating. I am so sorry you had to deal with that and the question, “What kind of person was I to have me family killed so that I become a better person?” What shame and guilt that puts on the person grieving and was put on you. I am so sorry and I ask forgiveness on behalf of those who have no idea what they are saying and how their words are so devastating.
      I lost a child that was stillborn and it seemed that no one in my family, including my husband, thought that the death of my precious child should give me more than a moments concern. My grief was even deeper because of their lack of understanding. It was over 10 years later when someone asked me didn’t I lose a baby years ago, and I ended up in screaming sobs. Finally was able to begin the grieving process. I know my grief is not comparable to those who have enjoyed living with their children, but I know that things said to be such as “it was for the best,” “you baby had something wrong with it and nature took care of it.” Those words seemed especially cruel because there was no deformity shown or known on my beautiful baby girl. It was my own body that had failed.

      I’m sorry, this is not about me, it is about you. I cannot know how you feel, nor the depth of your pain, but I cannot imagine something happening to me like happened to you and it not leave me devastated and wondering why. May God bless you and mend your broken heart.

      Like

  37. oh. this helps me and grieves me and encourages me…i have several friends that have gone through this. correction: ARE going through this for many years and years…thank you with all my heart for your blog i just happened to see. I will pray.

    Lisa

    Like

      • I lost my 18 yr old daughter in a car accident in ’99. The pain of losing a child stays with you the rest of your life. You learn to live with it and go on. No parent should have to bury their child but unfortunately we do. May God bless us all who are enduring (or trying to) the most horrific experience known to man.

        Liked by 1 person

  38. Thank you,
    I lost my son in a drive by shooting 1998, he was only 14 yrs old, and until now still unsolved case. 5th year after his death, I started crying and hitting things at home, in which i did not do after his death. I guess because his friends were graduating in high school and I keep saying to myself, life is so unfair. After that I started getting sick, feeling dizzy, no appetite to eat, not sleeping and having headaches. I was diagnosed having “deppression”. I just got off on my medicines 3 years ago, it was a struggle, I thought I cannot make it, but with the support of my family and friends especially my husband, I can say I made it, and I thanked God, i am now doing ok, I can say back to normal 90 percent, but pain is always kicking.
    All the things written in this post were all 100% true for me.
    Thank you and God bless………Cecilia

    Liked by 1 person

  39. You put what’s on my heart in black and white. It’s all so true. I’m not good with words or telling people how I feel. I lost my daughter , Olivia, 22 days before her 9th birthday , just over a year ago. She was Diagnosed with seizures only the year before . She was only supposed to be in the hospital for a couple of nights of IV treatments. After 7 weeks in ICU, we lost her. My heart breaks for you. No parent should have to endure this pain. Thanks for writing this. I will share this. God bless you and your family .🙏🏼

    Like

    • Tracey,

      Another mom told me she believes if we have met on earth, that our children have met in heaven. Perhaps Olivia is dancing with Andrew. Perhaps they have become friends.

      I am so sorry about your loss. I am humbled that my words have helped so many.

      Like

  40. Thank you.

    We just lost our son last week. His birthday is this Friday.

    I’m just beginning this journey, but what you wrote is so true already.

    Liked by 1 person

  41. I lost my son Dec.23rd 2013 his mother and I was divorced and I raised him and my daughter they were 12 and 16 it was very hard I could tell you so many heart breaking stories that I went through but it would only make you wonder how a person handle such struggles I did this out of the love for my children my son was born on my birthday my life is so empty how could this happen to the love that I gave them go so wrong God forgive me of my sins give me the strength to live a life that grant me of a ever lasting life that I will see my children in heaven and rejoice there presence.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mitchell,

      I am so sorry about your loss and your pain. I encourage you to read the Bible for answers. Psalms is a beautiful book, full of encouragement and truth about God. Psalm 103 and 139 are both comforting to me.

      I also encourage you to check out While We’re Waiting. Their dads retreats are helpful to grieving dads.

      Like

  42. Pingback: Soaring Stats | kathleenduncan

  43. Kathleen
    Thank you for this blog post. What a gift this is for friends of those that have lost children. I want to ask of I could use your list on my blog post. I will also attach a link to your blog for those that would like to read more. I am writing a blog about acts of kindness and I would like to feature your blog post about how to show acts of kindness to those that have lost a child.
    My blog will be live June 1st. http://www.bighearted.net

    Liked by 2 people

  44. Hello Kathleen – fellow Banded mom. I have just begun reading some posts on your blog. I posted this one to my FB page as a tutorial for my friends, many of whom have actually done a great job loving me well. But to the many who say, “I just don;t know what to say/do,” well… if they read your very true words, that won’t be an excuse anymore. I wonder of Andrew and Tex have met in Heaven yet. Moving forward with you…

    Liked by 1 person

      • Someone on my FB posted this and I read it, which I don’t usually do. I lost my daughter at 15 yo in 1989. I still don’t talk, share with anyone, family included. My children know not to discuss or bring up anything. I sound callous and hard and maybe I am. I was in counseling for years and years, nothing helped. I know most people come to some point in their life, I am still searching. I rejected God. I try to be faithful and at one point in my life it hit me that I should thank Him for giving her to me for 15 years. But I still cannot move past and I don’t know how to go on. I do not live, I exist.

        Like

  45. Pingback: What NOT to say to a grieving family | kathleenduncan

  46. This is spot on. Often times we Christians are expected to be strong example of faith for everyone else. But we do hurt, we do deal with having to figure out how we are going to go on without our child. Many Christians believe that all we have to do is quote the right bible verse and we turn pain into joy, but it just doesn’t happen that way. We have to find a way for pain and joy to coexsist within us. The joy of knowing our child is with God can be overshadowed by their absence in our lives here.
    My experience after losing my 14 year old son who was killed with five others on a mission trip was devastating, but I pretended for eight years that my faith was keeping me strong. In truth, I struggled with God because He broke my heart. I had expected something much different from Him.
    I struggled with a church family that kept looking for a blessing to come out of the accident and didn’t recognize our need to mourn. I struggled with fellow Christians who felt that saying nifty little things like “Everything happens for a reason” was somehow comforting. I didn’t need philosophy, I needed help.
    It was only after being honest about my emotions that I began to heal. Sometimes the best help other can offer is to help us cry.
    My son died 22 years ago and this past year I was finally able to write a book about my experience. I was only able to do that because I reached point where I could say, “Lord, I wouldn’t have chosen this for my life, but I will receive it. Please teach me from it.”
    I no longer grieve my son Jacob’s death, I celebrate his life.

    Thanks for your post and God bless you as He uses you and your loss to comfort and enlighten others.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Gene, my son Chip was killed in a motorcycle accident 25 years ago. I believe more today than ever before. However he was a Born Again Believer so I know one day I will see him again. I have been able to celebrate his life. He led me to the Lord five years before he was killed. He was 25 when he died. He became my teacher, mentor, best friend, besides my beautiful son. It was devastating. I appreciate your post very much so thank you. It makes me sad again but I appreciate your honesty reading your story helps. Thank you and God Bless you. Judy

      Liked by 2 people

      • Judy, there is joy in the anticipation of once again seeing Chip, Jacob, and other believers when this life is over, but there remains moments of sadness as we continue to struggle with their absence in the here and now—I believe that struggle is both normal and healthy. Emotions, whether happy or sad, are all we have left of them at this point and I find myself embracing any and every thought of my son Jacob. That’s not a sign of weakness or a lack of faith, it’s simply having the strength to be honest with both yourself and God—in my mind, honesty is the best method of healing. I am sorry for Chip’s loss and all you have experienced because of it. I appreciate your comment. God bless you Judy.

        Like

      • I also lost my 18 yr old son to a motorcycle accident in October of 2014. I am so grateful he was also saved. But the hole in my heart sometimes is beyond bearable. God gives me peace through this storm.

        Liked by 1 person

    • I believe you to be neither brave nor strong – simply and wonderfully courageous… The feelings, expressions, and insights found among these pages are exactly right. We all thank you for the piece of yourself you have chosen to give “We lucky ones..” who find it.

      In my early 30s (1991), I lost a brother to suicide. An entire family (six remaining members) were brought to their collective knees – simultaneously. I would add this insight to the challenge of facing such despair within the family, and hope it too is found helpful.

      No one should assume one family member is stronger than another. No previous held role matters. Gender doesn’t matter, Age doesn’t matter. As eldest son, with sisters both older and younger in the family, they naturally turned to me as an anchorage during this particularly nasty storm. We’d lost a brother, and I suppose they were clinging to the dingy that remained: Me.

      Day after day, one after another, they would call me. Weep… You who have experienced this know the kind… A soulful weep from the deepest place within. My 3 sisters, unknowingly chose a 3 day rotation to call me… Monday: elder sister, Tuesday: middle sister, Wednesday: baby sister. Apply, rinse, repeat… it went on for week upon week. Each phone call left me exhausted with their grief. Questions of “Why” most often deteriorated into sobs, which in my heart translated into a soul request each night, from each sister, that their strong Navy brother – fix this nightmare that has befallen us. Assauging their grief, left no room for my own… It had to wait to be addressed when their grief mellowed to manageable…

      I can offer only this relief for those who suffer a recent tragedy – today now nearly 24 years later. Time alone heals… While we may quickly forget what we had for dinner last night. May forget about Supreme Court rulings or Battle Flag controversies – somewhat more quickly… The loss of a family member never completely goes away, but it does change. This is especially true when the one lost, for some reason or another held the rest of the family in awe of their noticable sparkle. But, those future healing moments spent talking of that missing spark, creates a gentle breeze that blows away just a little more of that pain of loss and replaces it simply – with the finest memories of a shorter life shared.

      My brother had funny thumbs.. Not freaky or anything, just different. A difference he was proud of – for the humor we others found in them. It was not uncommon to be sitting across from him at Thanksgiving dinner, distracted by the joy of sights and smells of the meal, made more perfect with all of us present… Suddenly one of my sisters would bust out laughing, and draw the attention of all the rest of us. There he’d be, leaning over with a quiet intimacy, a secret just for ‘the chosen sister to see’. Yet, as he also knowingly planned, we others would see too: simply showing her his thumbs… His thumbs were magic talismans… They were our joy then, and the memories of them, are our joy now.

      We each of us miss Ronny’s thumbs… especially at Thanksgiving… But, if you are lucky (like me) across the coming years, your lost loved one will sneak into your dreams sometimes. On those days you want to sleep in.. On those days you may wake up laughing (or crying because your loss is still there) but your reaction to the dream will almost always be the same. You’ll wake and smile, wait for a decent hour, and call a sister to tell her what happened this time.

      For Our Family

      Like

      • Sam, that is a very revealing illustration of life in a grieving family. It reflects the emotional struggle that people on the outside of our grief fail to see or understand. You should consider writing a short story about your brother Ronny and the effect his death had on you and your family’s lives. It would be a great help to those who are going through similar experiences to know that they are not alone.

        Like

          • Please feel free to republish this story for the benefit of your readers as you see fit. It is of note though that it was written in response to having read your own methods of dealing with grief, certainly not meant to overlook it. We who write often come to KNOW that writing of our grief is in some ways cathartic as I am sure you have found. People’s responses to what light we find at the end of Our specific tunnel can become not only part of the writer’s healing but may help set the reader’s foot on the path to wellness as well. Thank you for your touching words that helped me find mine.

            Please note that I am accutely aware that I wrote from a sibling’s perspective. Though my father is gone now, I can only recall a time or two when he spoke of the loss. My mother, here now so many years later speaks wistfully of our Ron, as do now we all. He smiles down funny thumbs – both up…

            Sam

            Liked by 1 person

    • Gene-
      I love your expression……that in truth you struggled with God because He fell short of your expectations from Him. It’s so true. I am amazed at the misconceptions so many hold toward we Christian parents who have lost our children. You can almost see the disappointment in their eyes when we fall short of their expectations for our grief. It’s been almost eight years for me…..August 20, 2007. On that day I delivered identical twin daughters who were so perfectly formed, so incredibly beautiful and absolutely without life. When the nurse handed them to me I was broken. Within weeks my Christian friends were offering the “everything happens for a reason” and “be careful not to show thanks for what you already have” comments. What I needed in those moments was someone to hold me, let me soak them with my sobs and to hear them say to me “I am sorry. There is no explanation that I can offer. But I am here with you.”

      Liked by 2 people

      • Jeanie,

        I watched my daughter hold her still born baby girl, and the expression on her face remains burnt into my memory. I am so sorry for the loss of your beautiful girls. I’m also sorry for what you have had to endure in the wake of their loss. People seem to expect some kind of reaction from us that we just aren’t equipped to exhibit.
        While I can celebrate his life, I’m not okay with the death of my son, I don’t think I will ever be okay with it. It remains a throbbing disappointment in my relationship with God, but my brokenness served to strip me of my selfish expectations of Him. It led me to once again crave His unconditional love and to treasure His forgiveness.
        I learned a few things: I learned that proud people keep God at an arms distance…but broken people are willing to take the risk of honestly approaching God and seeing themselves as He does. I also learned to accept the fact that He allows it to rain on the just and the unjust alike.
        The result of submitting to His Lordship is that I experienced a peace that went deeper than the circumstances that surrounded me. My book is the raw and honest story of what its like to not only lose a child, but to also lose and regain faith. Putting those honest emotions down into words was extremely healing for me. I encourage you to journal your thoughts…when no one else is willing to listen, your journal hears everything you have to say. I going to visit your blog.

        Liked by 2 people

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