The sudden death of a child is difficult for any parent to experience. If someone you know is grieving a lost child, you can express your love and support through a sympathy card. Trying to put your own grief into words may feel awkward, but you can offer the parents encouragement by letting them know they have friends by their sides in this time of pain.
- Skill level:
Use a handmade or otherwise personalised card. If you send a ready-made sympathy greeting card, parents might have already received one exactly like it. Writing a personal note or making your own card helps demonstrate your care and love.
Avoid cliché statements, such as "everything happens for a reason," "I know how you feel" and "you can have another child." Implying that their child is easily replaceable dismisses the grief they feel for his loss. Even if your clichés are well-meaning, they can still upset grieving parents rather than comforting them.
Share your memories of the child, if you knew her. Enclose a photo or other keepsake, such as a craft or picture that the child made. These objects and words will help remind the parents of happy times and hang on to their child's memory.
Respect the parents' religious beliefs. If you both believe in God or an afterlife, offering to pray for the parents or the child's soul may be comforting to them. If the parents don't believe in an afterlife, on the other hand, offering your prayers or saying that the child is "with God" may be a stinging reminder that their child is gone forever, or may make the parents feel that you're pushing religion on them at an inappropriate time.
Offer your help. For example, if the grieving parents have other children, offer to babysit. If you can cook, offer to make them dinner. Be specific about how you can help them so that your offer feels more sincere.
Tips and warnings
- Don't feel obliged to write a long message. It's often difficult to express grief in meaningful ways without feeling awkward or stilted---or worse, falling into cliché. If you struggle to find something better to say than "I am sorry for your loss," leave it at that. A short expression of sympathy is better than none at all.
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