What not to say to a bereaved parent – Stop, think and engage brain!


I want to start this post with a little warning, this is a rant! 

Before I get carried away with what might be a furious spouting of pent up anger and frustration, I want to make clear that this post comes from a genuine place of love and care. I am aware that anyone who speaks to a bereaved parent will, unless they are a heartless dick, want to say the right thing. I’m sure they have desperately tried to find some words of comfort to attempt to ease the suffering of this person. Let me also say that saying nothing or ignoring said person is a bigger shit move than saying the wrong thing.  I have however compiled, with the help of some very special people, some handy tips on what might not be the best thing to say if you value your friendship or indeed your face!

Tip 1. Don’t attempt to compare. 

A popular misconception seems to be that a bereaved parent somehow wants to know that you can relate to their pain. Ill let you into a little secret, YOU CANT! Even a fellow bereaved parent cant fully understand another parents story although I imagine it might be a closer connection than the woman who said “I know exactly how you feel, my dog died last year”! I’m sorry, are you high on crack! Did you honestly just compare the death of a precious baby with the death of your dog. I’m sure good old Fido held a special place in your heart and I’m sure he’s sadly missed but you my friend need to go and have a serious word with yourself! 

Now you may have thought Ive just ruined the rest of the rant by steaming in there with what has to be there best example of stupidity however I believe that the next one has to top it so hold on to your seats!

Unfortunately this is not an isolated incident, this cracker has happened more than once. When my friends baby died her (ex) friend told her that she could relate to her sense of loss because last year she lost her job! Her fucking job! Well all I can say to this woman whoever you are, I wouldn’t worry too much about the loss of your job has you wont ever need to work again with the fame and fortune that’s coming your way when you win the Guinness world record for being the biggest TWAT! Now jog on! 

Tip 2. Nothing that follows “at least” is ever ok. 

Now I know the temptation that we all have inbuilt into us is to try and make things better. We want to help make sense of tragic events with some platitude or well meaning justification. Just don’t. As a rule Ive learnt that anything that follows “at least” will undoubtably make the bereaved parent want to punch you in the face. 

Some examples are as follows

“At least you didn’t become attached” WTF! 

“At least you have other children” Tell you what, think of the children you have and tell me which one you would like to give back. 

“At least your young enough to try again” Yeh, that will bring my baby back. 

Tip 3. This is a general rule of thumb, just engage your brain before talking!

“If its any consultation having three kids is really hard work”. Surprisingly enough, this is no consultation. 

” Your about to move house so having a baby would have been really inconvenient at this time” I simply have no words at this point. 

Unfortunately the above are just a tiny cross section of the examples I have on this subject. I could write forever and it would never do justice to the insanity that my dear friends have had to put up with. I also want to point out that I have my friends express permission to use their examples as they want to help “educate” people. We all agree that instead of trying to think up elaborate examples of “at leasts” or “I know how you feels” a simple “sorry for your loss” or “can I do something for you” is a far better move. If all else fails, a simple hug or allowing silence whilst your friend cries will be the best gift you can give. 

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