Bring soup, be there & other ways to help a bereaved friend

January 26, 2014 at 9:46 pm | Posted in Grief, life after loss | 6 Comments
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In a few different posts I have written about what people have said to Evan and I after Jake and then Sawyer‘s deaths.  There seem to be endless opportunities in life to say the wrong thing.  It is hard to put yourself in another person’s shoes and separate out your own feelings.  We all have different experiences.  We start from a variety of places.  Who is to judge what is right and what is wrong?  All we can do is try our best.

My mom recently sent me an article called The Art of Presence by David Brooks.  It is about a family who has suffered enormous tragedy in their lives (including the death of one of their daughters).  The family gives very practical advice such as:

  • Be a builder.  I had not read/heard this analogy before and I like it so, I am going to share:

“Firefighters drop everything and arrive at the moment of crisis. Builders are there for years and years, walking alongside as the victims live out in the world. Very few people are capable of performing both roles.”

A few other pieces of advice I have heard about but are also worth sharing (I may have also written about these before . . .):

  • Do be there.

Even if you do not know what to say it does not matter.  Just show up.

  • Do not compare, ever.

There is no comparison contest with bereaved parents.  Everyone has lost.

  • Bring soup.

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.
The Dali Lama

  • Do not say you will get over it.

Grief changes over time but in my experience there is no “healing” from the loss of your child.

  • Do not say it is all for the best or try to make sense out of it.

The death of a child is not for the best and there is no making sense of it for any parent.


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  1. I love the “builder” analogy.
    Great article. Love your posts ❤

  2. I may not say the right thing, but hope you know I’ll always be there for you.

  3. Thanks for sharing–this is excellent advice to take into consideration in times when so many of us are apt to say something we don’t mean in an attempt to consul the people we love most!

  4. I love the advice. Sometimes people (me included) get so afraid of saying the wrong thing that they don’t say anything at all. This is a good reminder to be there…and to listen. Show up. I like that a lot. Thinking of you my friend.

  5. Love this. So true. There aren’t any right words.

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