Q: What DON'T you want to hear after having a child pass away? I have a couple of friends/family who are dealing with their loss and I find myself saying nothing for fear of what I should and shouldn't say. I know that probably isn't the best thing to do, but I am guilty of it.
First of all, I think you are so kind to ask that question. So many times I have felt like the elephant in the room - people know what I am dealing with but are too scared to bring it up. I am so happy you asked this question.
Every individual is different, but I appreciate when people ask me outright about Gavin. That being said - I would try to read the clues the person gives you. If they bring up their child, I would recommend participating in the conversation. If the individual doesn't ever talk about the child, I would be more hesitant to ask questions or bring up the child. I say that only because I feel each experience with death is so unique and each person deals with it differently.
Unfortunately for those around us we keep them on their toes.
As for what NOT to say. . . I didn't like it when people would say, "At least you can have more." Or, "Having another one will make you feel better." No amount of children can compensate for the ache of missing one. It also hurt to hear when people would say, "At least he isn't struggling anymore." While I agree 100% with that statement - I felt like I was the one left suffering and they were disregarding the way I was feeling.
Unfortunately, grief is unstable. There isn't always the "right" or the "wrong" thing to say. It is a sticky situation for anyone around a bereaved individual. And I am so sorry for that.
My biggest suggestion is to kindly just ask how they are doing. You don't have to be specifically referring to their child. This way they can open up if they feel like it or they can avoid the subject if that is what they want to do.
Also, kind notes and emails are my favorite. I noticed that after Gavin passed away I didn't want to talk on the phone or have unexpected visitors. I kinda wanted to be alone. I received so many sweet emails and messages that made me feel thought of and loved. These people who did this were the ones I turned to later on when I DID feel like talking.
I hope that helps! :)