7 things we need our ‘ungrieving’ friends to know

When you lose a child, it changes you. And our friends don’t know how to act or what to do. They don’t know what to do with the new you even though you’re the same person you were in so many ways. So here’s what we want our friends to know.

1. You are enough

Period. We want you just the way you are and we crave your company. Being alone all the time can be a recipe for agony.

2. You can’t fix this

No one can. No one has the magic wand and no one has the perfect thing to say, including you. So don’t worry that you won’t say or do just the right thing because not even we know what that would be.

3. Ask about our child (or loved one)

The number one worry we have is that no one remembers our child or our loved one we lost. This hurts more than anything. When our friends avoid conversation about my child or never mention him, it’s like they are trying to erase him from our family tree –as if he never counted. Put yourself in those shoes for a moment. Would you like it if your child’s name was never mentioned after he or she died?

4. Don’t avoid us

Losing a child is isolating enough. Having your friends avoid you makes things unbearable. We already feel like such an oddballs being in this horrific category of parents who’ve lost a child. We worry no one wants to be around us because this ugly tragedy is contagious and “depressing.” We worry you’ll think we’re depressing. We need our new friends. And our old ones.

5. We still want to be with you

We do find comfort in the club no one wants to be in. But we also find comfort in the friends we knew before this awful thing happened. You knew of our life before all this and that perspective is important. Our history together is important. You are busy but please schedule some time for a lunch or meeting after work.

6. Ask us how we are doing even if it’s years later

Don’t be scared of the answer. I might feel like dirt and tell you that I do. You don’t have to throw sunny optimism at me. That invalidates how I feel and makes me feel badly for being honest with you. I still have days I hurt. Days of struggle. I always will and I need to talk about it. And if I can get that out of my system at the get-go I can get on with having a good time.

7. We want you to share your problems, too

We know it’s not as “big” as losing a child. That doesn’t make your issues any less important. We want you to share with us. We might not be up to this at the beginning of our grief journey but certainly we are as time passes. We have lots of love and empathy and nowhere for it to go. Let us invest some of that in you.

Old friends, we need you more than ever. Just to be there.

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Published by

AnneMoss Rogers

AnneMoss Rogers is a mental health and suicide education expert, mental health speaker, suicide prevention trainer and consultant. She is author of the Book, Diary of a Broken Mind and co-author of Emotionally Naked: A Teacher's Guide to Preventing Suicide and Recognizing Students at Risk with Kim O'Brien PhD, LICSW. She raised two boys, Richard and Charles, and lost her younger son, Charles to addiction and suicide on June 5, 2015. She is a motivational speaker who empowers by educating and provides life saving strategies and emotionally healthy coping skills. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now that's the legacy she carries forward in her son's memory. Mental Health Speakers Website.

11 thoughts on “7 things we need our ‘ungrieving’ friends to know”

  1. Just what I needed to read this morning. Someone called the other day to ask for a favor. I was glad she asked, but mentioned I was having a “ bad Curt day”, which means a grieving day. I was immediately sorry for being so honest, because she misinterpreted what I meant. First of all, she was distracted with her own family situation, ( her son, one of Curt’s best friends just became a Father that was born 5 weeks early), and she just called to ask me to make them a meal. I was happy they reached out. I was sorry 😐 I was so candid. My grief doesn’t take away my willingness to help others. In fact, I feel great when i’m needed. I find it so hard to know when to just pretend i’m fine, and when I can just be myself. It can be so lonely. Thanks, Anne for the article. It makes me feel understood:)

  2. Another helpful, beautiful blog post, Anne Moss. I love how you are educating all of us on how to navigate this difficult journey — together. ❤️

  3. I agree 100% Anne! You took the words right out of my mouth.

    It doesn’t matter if it’s day 1 or day 120, it’s always there.

    Another home run!

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