A Letter to Bereaved Parents

I won’t say, “I know how you feel” – because I don’t. I’ve lost parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends, but I’ve never lost a child. So, how can I say I know how you feel?

I won’t say, “You’ll get over it” – because you won’t. Life will have to go on. The daily routine will take your mind off your loved one, but the hurt will still be there.

I won’t say, “Your other children will be a comfort to you” – because they may not be. Many mothers I’ve talked to say that after they have lost a child, they easily lose their temper with their remaining children. Some even feel resentful that they’re alive and healthy, when the other child is not.

I won’t say, “Never mind, you’re young enough to have another baby” – because that won’t help. A new baby cannot replace the one you’ve lost.

You may hear all these platitudes from your friends and relatives. They think they are helping. They don’t know what else to say. You will find out who your true friends are at this time. Many will avoid you because they can’t face you.

Others will talk about the weather, the holidays and the school concert but never about the child that you lost. Never about how you’re coping.

So, what will I say? I will say, “I’m here. I care. Any time. Anywhere”. I’ll cry with you if need be. I’ll talk about your loved one. We’ll laugh about the good memories.

I won’t mind how long you grieve. I won’t tell you to pull yourself together.

No, I don’t know how you feel – but with sharing, perhaps I will learn a little of what you are going through. And, perhaps you will feel comfortable with me and find your burden has eased. Try me.

— an open letter written by a pediatric nurse to Ann Landers