Losing a child is the loneliest, most isolating journey a person can take and the only people who can come close to appreciating it are those who share the experience.
The loss of a child is a pain all bereaved parents share, and it is something that is impossible to understand fully without experiencing it firsthand. Often, when we know someone else is going through grief, our discomfort keeps us from approaching them. But those families want the world to remember their child or children, no matter how young or old they were.
If you never met their child, don't be afraid to ask about them. They are usually more than happy to tell you all about them. Talking about their child validates their existence and can bring comfort to the family.
Child loss can break a person in a way that is not fixable. They will learn to pick up the pieces and move forward, but their lives will never be the same again.
The grieving family appreciate your support although at times they may find it difficult to show it.
Don't tell them it's time to get back to ‘normal’ life, don’t tell them it's been long enough, or that time heals all wounds. These all mean nothing to a grieving parent, they are empty words.
A grieving family will count birthdays just like any other parent, and imagine what their child would be like if they were still living. Birthdays can be especially hard. They long to celebrate their child's arrival into this world, but they are left feeling intensely aware of the hole in their hearts instead. Some parents arrange celebrations while others prefer to be on their own. Either way, they are likely to need time to process another year without their child.
As a bereaved parent, they are forever balancing grief in one hand and a happy life after loss in the other.
You may not know what to say or do, and you may be afraid you might upset them. Whereas in reality they have already been through the most upsetting time of their lives and you talking about their child can break the silence that is often put their as a way of self preservation.