1. Our faith in God gave us hope and sustained us in the darkest days of our grief.
2. Early in your grief, you need safe places and safe people. You need people who will listen and allow you to express your feelings without judgment, people who will validate your feelings. We were blessed with several friends who listened to us share the last days and hours of our son’s life (he had serious health issues) over, and over, and over again!!!
3. Grandparents experience a double-whammy of grief. Grandparents grieve over the loss of their grandchild and they also grieve over the pain and loss their children are experiencing.
4. Don’t forget your surviving children. As hard as it is in the midst of your grief, you need to help them grieve in an age-appropriate manner.
5. People (friends, family, and co-workers ) with the best intentions, may unintentionally say or do some things that may be hurtful. We did our best to grant them grace by reminding ourselves: “They have not lost a child, how could they possibly know?”
6. Seek to understand and accept that you and your spouse may grieve differently. There is no one “right” way.
7. As parents that have lost a child, you will have to make a conscious decision not to allow the death of your child to destroy your marriage. Get help.
8. It is not unusual for you to want to talk about the child that you lost—just like your surviving children. You will have to work hard to encourage friends and family that—even though you may cry—you want them to talk about your child with you, share memories of them, remember to speak of them on their birthday or even anniversary of their death. Parents who have lost a child are fearful of the unintentional “conspiracy of silence” about this child.
9. It is OK, healthy, and necessary to seek help through credible support groups (Spark of Life, Grief Care, etc.). We helped start a chapter of The Compassionate Friends (international support group for parents who have lost a child regardless of age or circumstances) in our community. In seeking to help others, we found it helped us.
10. Don’t take your children or family members for granted. We know in a very real way that there are no guarantees of how much time you have with them!