How to Help a Friend Deal With the Loss of a Child or Loved One

A friend of mine recently lost her little boy to cancer after a terrible, two year battle. If it weren’t bad enough that the family had to endure the illness and the fading away of its eldest child, there was also the brief remission that promised a reprieve and a joy that it ultimately could not deliver.

Now my friend has to walk through the too-quiet rooms in her home, hearing the echoes of the boy who laughed, loved, and lived more of a life in ten years that some of us will have in an entire lifetime. She has suffered through the most terrible nightmare that a parent can imagine, and she also has to deal with the ignorance of the people who love her.

Losing a child, no matter what your relationship is with that child, is an awful feeling, as if you are suddenly left holding a tattered square of fabric where once you held a beautiful quilt. Life, by its very nature goes on, and so must those who are left behind go on to pick up the threads of fabric and attempt to reweave them into something that passes for living. The question is, what can you do to ease the suffering of a friend who has lost a loved one? The following guidelines will help you help the ones you love.

� DO let your friend know you are there for her, in any form she needs. Whether you take her shopping, to a movie, for a long walk, or just have a good long conversation, be her shoulder to cry on.

� DO NOT assume that she wants to be left alone or surrounded by people in her sorrow. Everyone grieves differently, so ask her what she prefers.

âÂ?¢ DO let her know when you are reminded of the lost loved one. If the red of a cardinal brings to mind a little boy’s baseball cap, let her know. She’ll appreciate the fact that you have not forgotten him.

� DO NOT assume that she knows how much you miss him or what a hole has been left in your life. Many people, when grieving, come to believe that since the rest of the world still turns their loss has been forgotten.

� DO NOT stay silent on holidays, birthdays, and special occasions. People often fear mentioning the name of the lost loved one for fear of bringing up painful memories. Know that the pain your friend carries is with her always, whether you mention it or not. Remembering the lost one gives your friend a chance to laugh and cry with others who loved him too.

� DO make special gestures when appropriate. Lighting a candle or bringing flowers for the missing people honor their memories in a simple, quiet way that will be appreciated.

It is never easy when a loved one dies, but if everyone does what they can for their loved ones, the world will be a better place.

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