1. “That’s okay, you can have another child,” followed closely by “that’s okay, at least you have other children.” These are two of the hardest things to hear. Even families that go on to have another child or who have three other children already will tell you that it in no way diminishes the pain they experience watching their child decline and die. And no one can ever replace their lost child.
2. “So sorry to hear that your child is dying. Oh well, have fun.” Yes, someone actually said this to me.
3. “I’m so glad I’m moving, so I won’t have to watch your child die.”
4. “I can’t imagine what you’re going through.” This statement really says, “I don’t even want to think about it.”
5. Pour In, Dump Out – Don’t complain to the grieving family how hard it is for you to handle what is happening to them. Complain to a friend, to a neighbor, to the mailman, but not to the grieving family. Pour in support to the family.
6. “God only gives us what we can handle.” Why would anyone think a parent should be able to handle watching their own child die?
7. “We haven’t said anything to you because we didn’t know what to say.” See our Top 10 Things You Can Say.
8. The names “angel” and “star” have such a special meanings to parents who have lost a child, so please don’t use them for your healthy children. And please don’t apologize because your healthy child is slow to walk or talk or do any of the things our children will never do.
9. “Doctors don't know a damn thing." Get a second opinion or “listen to the local religious radio station for 30 days and you’ll feel better.”
10. “You’re so strong.” – I hesitate to put this on the list because I loved hearing that I was strong – if you said it enough times maybe I would believe it – but I was no stronger than anyone else, the situation made us dig deep just to survive day-to-day. Try “I know how much strength it takes to just show up every day and you’re doing an incredible job.”
Add your own “worsts” in our comments below.