What NOT to say to a parent who’s lost a child

By Pam Magwaza
31 July 2017

"You are still young, you can have more children."

Imagine giving birth to beautiful triplets, only to have two of them die a few months after birth.

This is the reality blogger mom and news anchor, Stacey Skrysak from Illinois, US has had to live with for the past four years.

But nothing could've prepared her for the hurtful statement a stranger would make after she opened up to them about her loss.

In a blog post, posted on Scary Mommy, Stacey shares an incident that happened while she was at a local kiddies’ park, watching her four-year-old daughter play.

"It was a classic day at the park, the sun shining boldly as we mothers made small talk while keeping an eye on our children," she wrote.

"'Is she your only child?' asked the mom sitting next to me. My heart skipped a beat as I quickly thought about my reality. Do I tell this stranger the truth, which could lead to an awkward moment, or do I skim past it and say 'yes, she’s my only child.'"

"For whatever reason, I felt comfortable that day, so I casually explained that my daughter is our miracle child. I told the woman next to me that she’s our lone surviving triplet and that her brother and sister passed away within two months of birth."

"The immediate reaction was familiar as the mother gave me a shocked and sympathetic look I’ve seen a thousand times before. But it was what she said next that took me by surprise: 'Oh, I’m sorry. At least you have your daughter.'"

This one statement, according to Stacey, was enough to send her into a fit of emotions.

"I could feel my face getting flushed as I choked back the tears. Yes, this beautiful and strong little girl is amazing and she’s the light of my life. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that her brother and sister are no longer here on earth"

"As I looked at the woman’s children, all I could think of was responding, ‘So, which child of yours would you be okay with giving up?’”

But Stacey bit her tongue and just let the tears roll down her cheeks.

As terrible as this story may be, this experience is not unique to Stacey. Many grieving parents have to deal with the insensitive, if well-meaning, comments from other people.

So, as the old adage goes – if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

Here is a list of five things that should never be said to a grieving parent.

  1. You are still young, you can have more children

Children cannot be replaced. Saying this implies their child can just be replaced with another.

  1. Let go and move on

Anything that implies that a parent should "get over it" is a no-no. There is no letting go of a loss like this.

  1. Everything happens for a reason 

When one is grieving, nothing seems to have rhyme or reason. It may come across as insensitive, even though you mean well.

  1. At least...

'At least you have a child left'… 'At least you can have more children'… It may seem to the grieving parent as if you’re dismissing the child they lost. There is no bright side to the death of a child.

  1. At least he/she wasn’t older – it would have been so much harder

This is particularly insensitive. Whether the child was 21 years old or one day old, the loss is no smaller or greater. This was still a child the parents had hope and dreams for. Age does not matter.

*All these things are detailed in various blogs from testimonies of parents who have lost a child or children.

Sources: Still Standing MagScary Mommy BlogHer view from homeMommyish

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