When a child dies, what do you say or what should you do?

Unfortunately many of us will find ourselves in the devastating situation where a friend, sibling or perhaps a neighbour loses a child.  What do you say? What should you do?

Grieving Parents need to find ways to keep the memories of their child alive, they don’t want to be avoided through other peoples own fear. They may be hesitant to let others know they are needed, but they are grateful for the offers of support. They need to know that others will continue their love and support in the coming months and years, as the grief of losing a child will last a lifetime. Please find listed some pointers of how to help families during the difficult days ahead.

Be Practical

Help by washing/cleaning up, to make a meal or tidy the garden, take round some groceries or offer to run errands.


Let them talk, let them share their memories, their feelings, their pain. Let them express as much as they are willing to share with you.


Keep in touch. Call them regularly, send a letter, a card or give a donation to their designated charity. Let them know that you are thinking of them.


Talk to them about their child – the hearts of a bereaved parent will always be empty, having to accept that they will not share this life with their child; so they have to hold onto memories. If you didn’t know the child ask what they were like, ask them to share their happy memories with you.


Birthdays, anniversaries and  special events. In years to come each anniversary will be as hard as the first, send a card to remind them you still care and that they have your support, this will mean so much to the family. You could also help by donating money to the families designated charity in their child’s memory, plant a tree of remembrance, or release balloons or lanterns. You can do so many thoughtful things for the family in memory of their child and it need not cost a lot of money.


Give them a hug, hold their hand, offer emotional support, tell them that you care and that you are there for them.


Give any other children your attention too. Sometimes the parents cannot offer as much support during their own grief. Be honest with the children, talk to them, tell them it is ok to talk and to cry. Don’t forget the Grandparents, Aunties, Uncles, Siblings; they need your support too. And don’t allow your own fears to get in the way of supporting the family, they need you more than anything right now.

Be Sensitive

Please don’t sympathise, don’t tell them how they should feel or that you know what they are going through unless you have lost a child yourself as you will never know what pain they feel. Don’t avoid them; for this is hurtful and insulting, they have done nothing wrong and need to feel wanted and acknowledged; just a hug and to say “I’m sorry” will help them feel less isolated. And please don’t take it personally if they don’t call as often as they used to, or cancel your plans, they may be anxious, bad tempered and cry at anytime. But, it is nothing to do with you; they still need and want your friendship, love and support.

 The article above was shared with us by A Child of Mine – a website founded by a mother, her family and friends after the loss of their son. The website provides up to date information, guidance and signposting after the death of a child.