The month of July is known for vacations, barbecues, and Independence Day celebrations. But July also is a month to reach out to parents who have gone through the unthinkable — the loss of a child.
Bereaved Parents Awareness Month is meant to help us recognize and support parents who have endured tragedy. The grief a parent experiences lasts a lifetime. So what can we do to help?
We’ve come up with a few ideas:
Ideas for Support
- If your community doesn’t have a support group for bereaved parents, consider partnering with others in the community to set one up. As a funeral director, you see all kinds of loss — use your compassion and expertise to help guide parents.
- Remember that loss lingers. Anniversaries, birthdays, and other important dates will be hard on parents, even years after their child has passed. Organize a brunch or community dinner to celebrate the life of the deceased.
- With recent loss, the parent’s life will be turned upside down. Set up a task force to help with everyday chores. Have someone make a grocery run, mow the lawn, or babysit other siblings.
Writing can be a powerful way to connect with others and gain insight in the event of a tragedy. Here are a few powerful articles that share the experiences of bereaved parents.
- Farewell to My Daughter Kate, Who Died on Christmas Day — Jean Goss reflects on the loss of her daughter, who died of cancer. She recalls her daughter’s final moments and what she learned from her loss.
- When a Child Dies of a Drug Addiction — Joni Norby’s article sheds valuable insight on personal loss from a drug overdose. As drug-related deaths rise, this personal account may help other parents who are struggling with the same.
- How to Help: 4 Things to Say to Bereaved Parents… and One Thing NEVER to Say — A. Pawlowski gives helpful tips on how to talk to parents during their loss. The one thing never to say to a parent? “I know how you feel.”
- Surviving Suicide: A Mother’s Search for Meaning — Allen Frances interviews Deena Baxter, a mother who lost her youngest son. She talks about how she felt, the stigma of suicide, and her purpose after her loss — to help other families experiencing the same tragedy.
- Direct bereaved families to Bereaved Parents of the USA, an organization dedicated to the support and understanding of grieving parents and families. They have chapters across the country that offer grief support as well as a large collection of other resources.
- Get your community involved in the Angel Gown Movement. The movement repurposes donated wedding dresses to be used as burial gowns for newborns, infants, and young children.
- There are several books that help promote understanding for bereaved parents. We’ve put together a short list of seven helpful books for parents who recently lost an infant or child.
Of course, supporting bereaved parents doesn’t have to be set aside for just a month. Use these resources and ideas to help your community year-round.
Are there any other resources you recommend? Share them with us in the comments!