|Anecdotes from Avi|
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During the last anecdote we likened the loss of a child to the permanent loss of dancer’s legs. We will now conclude our discussion of how to behave around a bereaved parent with a set of dos and don’ts.
Dos and don’ts
When you are around, or with, a bereaved parent and you are together in order to discuss a specific purpose, then keep that purpose in mind. If you are together for a social meeting and have no specific reason other than being together, you should behave with the bereaved parent as you would behave around anyone else. The subject of the loss child may be brought up and discussed, it is not a taboo subject. In other words be yourself.
- Your job is not to assume that you need to cheer the bereaved parent up
- Your job is not to do one better and tell a story of a loss in your life
- It is not your job to dictate how the bereaved parent should feel.
- It is not your job to repeat every time you meet a bereaved parent that such a tragedy should happen to no parent
- Allow the bereaved parent to have a burst of sadness, tears or cry without you needing to “fix” it or cheer the bereaved parent up. At times an event will trigger a memory in the bereaved parent. The emotions that are wrapped around the lost child are intense and as such may result in an uncontrolled burst of emotions. Those emotions will subside, the bereaved parent will regain control. What you can do is give that bereaved parent the gift of time and space and allow the bereaved parent to regain composure. After Peggy found Ben’s lifeless body we called 911 and started CPR in an attempt to bring Ben back to life, the paramedics arrived shortly thereafter and determined that Ben is gone at which point the police wanted no one in Ben’s room. Nevertheless, Peggy refused to leave Ben’s side because she did not want Ben left alone. A year, or so, later during lunch, a lady told me about the loss of her father and how busy she was arranging the funeral and burial. All this time she was so busy she could not think about the loss of her father. Then when people left the funeral home it was the first time she could wrestle with the loss itself and she could not bring herself to leave her dad’s coffin’s side, because she did not want her father left alone. When I heard the story I thought of Peggy and burst in tears. The lady allowed me the time to finish my tears. I explained what raw emotion her story touched.
- If the lost child died due to an overdose, the term “junkie” for a drug user is a painful description for a bereaved parent. So is the opinion that “junkies do not deserve to live”. Bereaved parents tend to learn about addiction and in general believe the scientific diagnosis that addiction is a mental disease and like any other disease the addicted person deserves treatment. A bereaved parent may not be in the mood or may not have the mental energy to argue the scientific findings with a person who wants to express their opinion with no scientific backing.
We thank you for taking the time to read these anecdotes.
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You are not invincible –Stew Birbrower
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