There is no way to take away the pain and the grief of a parent who has a lost a child, but that doesn’t mean that we should do nothing. July is Bereaved Parents Awareness Month and it is the perfect time to support anyone you know who has lost a child in a fatal car accident or in any other way.
How to Help a Grieving Parent
If someone you know is grieving the loss of a child—of any age—then it is important to:
- Be aware that everyone’s grieving style is different. It can be difficult to truly know how a parent is coping since everyone grieves differently. Yet no matter how a well a parent seems to be functioning in the weeks, months, and years after the death of a child, you can be confident that the parent is hurting.
- Be present for the parent. We naturally avoid uncomfortable situations, but it is important that you do not avoid a grieving parent. You don’t need to know what to say or what to do. You simply need to be there for the parent as much as possible and especially on birthdays, holidays, and other special days.
- Take action. Do you see a lawn that needs to be mowed? Mow it. Other children that need a ride to practice? Text the parent and say you will pick the children up at 5 p.m. An empty pantry? Show up with a bag of groceries.
- Offer support to siblings and grandparents. Grieving parents are often very concerned about their own parents and their surviving children. They may be very grateful for any support that you can provide to them—which may allow parents more time to take care of themselves.
As you support a bereaved parent, do not avoid talking about the child who died. Many parents are comforted to know that their child is remembered.
Don’t Let July Be the Only Time Grieving Parents Are Supported
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), grieving parents are more likely to suffer from physical illnesses and emotional conditions than other parents. Specifically, they are more likely to suffer from depression, failed marriages, illness, and suicide. For these reasons, it is important that we all continue to support grieving parents all year long by being present, by remembering their children, and by helping our friends, relatives, and community members however we can.