Remembering and Reflecting


Another year has gone by and I reflect on what it would have been like to have our daughter Laura celebrating her 21st birthday today.

Instead, we have our two sons, Rory and Eric, 19 and 17. I’m very grateful to have been given another chance to be a parent. Many bereaved parents lose children and never get the chance to have another. I feel very fortunate and don’t take any of it for granted as it can all be gone in an instant.

I am a person who strives to look for the positive side of life. Some days this is easier than others. Though I fail to see much positive in Laura’s sad and tragic death from forceps injuries at 6 days old, the outcome is that I have been given such insight to grief and suffering that I never had before.

Instead of just reflecting on feelings of sadness today, I decided to think of useful tips I could offer for how to support those who have suffered loss.

My advice to helping those dealing with loss of a loved one would be:

  1. Acknowledge the grief and tell the person you’re sorry for the loss. Don’t pretend it never happened. I remember people acting that way with me and I know it was their awkwardness about not knowing what to say or do. Also they had no idea how it felt so found it difficult to relate. Often young people were the worst at this since they hadn’t experienced much death in their lives yet.

    It’s a shame that society is so bad in dealing with death and dying. We don’t talk about it openly because it makes us so uncomfortable and forces us to acknowledge our own mortality.
  2. Don’t chatter on about the weather or other trivial topics to fill the silence. The person is overwhelmed by grief and often just wants a supportive friend to be there to listen and let them talk about their loved one. Don’t think that talking about the departed loved one will hurt them. This is so untrue. It is a comfort to talk about them and acknowledge the feelings of grief. Not talking about the person and denying the feelings hurts much more.
  3. If you feel awkward about knowing what to say, offer a hug and just listen. That’s the best gift you can give a bereaved person. Your patient quiet presence is more than enough.
  4. Don’t try to fix the person by telling them to snap out of it and get on with things. Grief can’t be fixed. It has to be dealt with and experienced head on in order to heal. The grieving process is different for everyone and each person will have bad days and good days.
  5. Refrain from making unfeeling comments like “She/He’s in a better place” or “Everything happens for a reason” or “You’ll have more children” or “It was meant to be.” These comments are not very helpful or comforting.
  6. You could offer any useful books on grief that you know about. I remember being greatly comforted by books about grief outlining all the stages a bereaved person goes through. It reassured me that what I was experiencing was normal and that others had survived and I would, too. I found that the writings of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, who was an expert on death and dying, were very helpful.
  7. Flowers were nice to receive but didn’t last and were so expensive.  Special lasting gifts I appreciated were lovely handwritten cards, angel figurines, paintings or poems created by friends and family, trees planted in my daughter’s memory or donations to charities in her name.
The main thing to remember is that the bereaved person’s life has been shattered and will never be the same. They are a changed person from before and have to adapt to a new life without their precious loved one in it.

Your patient understanding and quiet support will help them cope with this transition more than you realize. Just being there for them in their time of need is such a gift.


  1. Sorry to hear of the loss of your little girl. I lost one of my twin babies many years ago---he was full- term at birth but had too many complications to live for very long. He would be 23 today if he were still here. Thankfully I still have his twin sister Jenny. These are all excellent points on handling grief. I went through a lot of counseling after Jason's death, and these were all issues that we discussed. Very helpful blog post for those suffering a loss!

    1. Thanks for commenting. So sorry to hear about you losing one of your twins. That must have been so difficult. The years go by and we carry on but we don't forget.


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