One of the most asked questions after “What do you guys need”, is “How can we help”. I have compiled a list of things not to do when dealing with grieving parents. Of course, this is based on my own personal emotions, so I don’t know that everyone’s list would look the same. I figured I would at least give all the answers out there. For one, I want to eliminate the excuses others may have and secondly I want to help others know how to help others.
Here is the Don’t list:
Don’t assume that once we buried our daughter, we buried our pain.
Don’t assume that just because you see me smile, I am not completely destroyed inside.
Don’t assume that I don’t want to talk about my daughter’s passing.
Don’t pretend like my daughter’s passing didn’t happen.
Don’t get turned off if I seem grumpy, be ready to accept a mood swing without visible cause.
Don’t avoid me in order to avoid the conversation.
Don’t substitute text and Facebook comments for real life phone calls and visits.
Don’t forget that we had normal problems before our daughter passed. Now they are just buried with new ones.
Don’t ever think a invitation or attempt to hang out with us isn’t a good idea. If it isn’t good timing, we will tell you.
Don’t try to marginalize our loss with a worse horror story. Other examples of grief and loss don’t encourage us, they sadden us more.
Don’t tell us that it’s okay now because she is in a better place. The best place for her, to us, was in our arms.
Don’t quote scripture with the intention to make us feel bad for experiencing the emotions we are having.
Don’t assume that prayers replace the need for actual contact from you. Prayers are incredibly appreciated but in these times, hands-on is needed.
Don’t let the awkwardness you feel outweigh the responsibility we have to love one another, even when it requires us to move outside of our comfort zone.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions about how we are doing. If we don’t want to talk or answer, we will politely say that.
Don’t assume that the reason we are struggling with trust is because we suddenly forgot what the Bible says. Our struggle is there no matter what. Our belief that God has a plan, has nothing to do with the immense amount of pain that is in our hearts.
Don’t think that our other children soften the blow. In fact they increase the pain. Things we share with our other children, remind us we will never share them with our daughter.
Don’t assume that in order to talk to us, you need to have every answer to every question surrounding her death. We don’t expect to find all the answers this side of Heaven.
Don’t wait for us to ‘make the first move’. We barely want to live most days, much less make the effort to go and beg people to hang with us.
Don’t assume we don’t want to talk about normal things. Television, sports, activities, latest headlines, etc. We are still the same people, we just have a daughter in Heaven now.
Don’t call and complain about something trivial that you are going through. Our extended mercy is spent up and really can’t reach out to your need that entails a stomachache.
Don’t shy away from a conversation that moves towards the loss of our daughter. Most the time, we will do the talking, we just need someone that will listen.
Don’t be afraid of our tears. Hugs comfort. Especially for my wife. The tears are there, if you hug her or not.
Don’t just pray for us, pray with us. A trip to the altar or a visit centered with prayer is invaluable.
Don’t mistakenly look at our hurting as anger.
Don’t think that we do not appreciate all the countless prayers that have been said on our daughters behalf.
Don’t stop inviting us to partake in things even if we have declined several times. The mood of our house shifts by the hour.
Don’t take our lack of excitement in any given situation personally. It’s all about the timing and if I had the power to control all the emotions like a light switch, I would be a rich man.
Don’t think that because I was ‘just’ the dad in the pregnancy that I am not devastated.
Don’t be offended if my wife declines invites to baby showers, hospitals or children’s birthday parties.
Don’t think we expect you to know what to say every time we see each other. Half the time, we don’t know what to say. But saying something is always better than silence.
Don’t think we don’t appreciate the awkwardness you may feel. It is also awkward for us. This isn’t a normal thing to go through. Awkwardness is unpleasant but not looked down upon.
Don’t be afraid to bring babies around us. If we are uncomfortable we will make quick of the situation but never at the risk of embarrassing you or hurting your feelings.
Don’t ask us to hold a baby, unless we ask you first.
I hope this list helps answer some questions and better inform others on how not to approach this situation. I will be posting a TO DO list, but for the most part it is the opposite of the list posted above. We learn by learning. Profound, huh? The more informed we are, the better we can minister to others. We all have a part in the suffering of God’s people. The key is to find out what part you are.