Tips for supporting someone when their child has died

By Patron Mary Berry DBE, whose son, William, died aged 19

It is a real help when there has been a bereavement in a family to write a letter to them. Say how concerned and sorry you are, and what a sad time you know they are having, then make it relaxed and friendly. If you have a memory of their child that they may be able to cherish, or will perhaps make the person feel proud, write it in detailed heartfelt explanation. When tragic things happen, it is comforting to cling to those wonderful memories of happier times.

Jolly them along in a gentle way and talk about their child and all the lovely things you can think about them. 

Don’t talk about yourself, or about your children, and don’t say you know about somebody else who is going through the same thing or you know exactly how they are feeling, that doesn’t help.  On no account assure them they will get over it as that is not what they want to hear.

Finish the letter with a bright and lovely cheerful memory and if you have a photo of their child, pop it in the envelope too.  This letter may go into a box or file and for years to come be read and reread and each time they will smile.

Do offer practical help. If they are incredibly stressed, go and do a bit of gardening or shopping with them.  If you are good at baking, take a cake! Be there, it’s the little touches that help.

Mary is a Patron of Child Bereavement UK, visit her Patron's page to find out more.

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