Any parent who has lost a child spends the rest of their life in mourning. They are forever broken. Sad. No longer whole.
If you have faith in God you can find some comfort in the fact that your little angel is in the arms of Jesus and they are spared the hurts of this world. But it doesn’t lessen the ache you feel to hold them in your arms. To have the joy of their presence.
If you know a parent who has lost one of their children, you might find it hard to love them sometimes. They might be unpredictable. Their sadness might scare you. They might be a mere shell of the person they used to be. But you can still love them. And trust me, they need you now more than ever.
When Olivia lost her battle with cancer I just needed my friends to be there for me. Your friends don’t need you to try and say the right thing. Or drop everything in your life. They just need to know that you love them and that you care. Call. Text. Spend time with them. Offer to bring over dinner or a coffee. I had amazing friends who had their children nap at my house so they could sit with me as Wyatt napped. The quiet killed me. Just having them be there to keep me company and lessen that quiet helped. I even had one dear friend who just sat with me in my bed while I cried. She didn’t have to say a word. She just wrapped her arms around me and said silent prayers.
A grieving parent can be moody, quick to anger, withdrawn, or more sensitive than normal. It can be hard to know what will set them off, and honestly, they probably don’t know either. There are some days that I feel pretty happy. I miss her, but I can function and I enjoy the company of other people. But other days I just want to retreat to my room. I want to cry and I feel incredibly angry that Olivia isn’t here with me. I was hard to deal with and probably still am. A time of loss can reveal who your friends truly are. Show your grieving friend grace and understanding. Pray for them and for their strength.
Remember the important dates
Your friend will be just as sad on the first birthday without their baby as they will be on the second, third, tenth, twentieth, and so on. And same goes for the anniversary of their child’s passing, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Christmas, etc. Think of them on those important dates. Send them a note or give them a call to let them know that you remember and are thinking of them. They will appreciate your thoughtfulness.
Don’t leave your friend out of important events because you are afraid of how they might react. Give them the option to attend and be upfront about what’s entailed. And even if they say no, keep asking.
The greatest gift you can give to a grieving mother or father is to love them. Love them in spite of their grieving heart.
Olivia Caldwell Foundation is a 501c3 nonprofit that raises money for pediatric cancer research. Learn more and donate at www.oliviacaldwellfoundation.org.