Wish List for Bereaved Parents

I first shared this around the time of the second anniversary of our daughter Molly’s birth and death in April 2010. I reconnected with an old friend on Facebook, not long after I joined in June 2008, and found out that she too had lost a baby (a son who was born still). She shared this “wish list” with me soon after we got back in touch and I remember relating to so many of the statements.

If you have ever lost a child my thoughts, prayers and heart goes out to you. If you haven’t please consider reading over this list and keeping it in mind if and when you interact with those you know who have lost a baby and/or child of any age. I imagine that many of you who have lost a child(ren) have probably seen this before, but I hope you find it healing to read it/relate to it again today. Take care and God bless.

(Some people attribute this to having come from the Compassionate Friends organization and others to a woman named Jenny Coffey who is listed on Pregnancy.org as being the author.)

I wish my child hadn’t died. I wish I had her back.

I wish you wouldn’t be afraid to speak my child’s name. My child lived and was very important to me. I need to hear that she was important to you also.

If I cry and get emotional when you talk about my child I wish you knew that it isn’t because you have hurt me. My child’s death is the cause of my tears.

You have talked about my child, and you have allowed me to share my grief. I thank you for both.

I wish you wouldn’t “kill” my child again by removing her pictures, artwork, or other remembrances from your home.

Being a bereaved parent is not contagious, so I wish you wouldn’t shy away from me. I need you now more than ever.

I need diversions, so I do want to hear about you; but, I also want you to hear about me.

I might be sad and I might cry, but I wish you would let me talk about my child, my favorite topic of the day.

I know you think of and pray for me often. I also know that my child’s death pains you, too.

I wish you would let me know those things through a phone call, a card, note, or a real big hug.

I wish you wouldn’t expect my grief to be over in a short period of time. I wish you could understand that my grief will never be over.

I will suffer the death of my child until the day I die. Grief is a life long process.

I am working very hard in my recovery, but I wish you could understand that I will never fully recover.

I will always miss my child, and I will always grieve that she is dead.

I wish you wouldn’t expect me “not to think about it” or to “be happy.” Neither will happen for a very long time, so don’t frustrate yourself.

I don’t want to have a “pity party”, but I do wish you would let me grieve. I must hurt before I can heal.

I wish you understood how my life has shattered. I know it is miserable for you to be around me when I’m feeling miserable. Please be as patient with me as I am with you.

When I say “I’m doing okay”, I wish you could understand that I don’t “feel” okay and that I struggle daily.

I wish you knew that all of the grief reactions I’m having are very normal.

Depression, anger, hopelessness and overwhelming sadness are all to be expected. So please excuse me when I’m quiet and withdrawn or irritable and cranky.

Your advice to “take one day at a time” is excellent advice. However, a day is too much and too fast for me right now. I wish you could understand that I’m doing good to handle an hour at a time.

Please excuse me if I seem rude, certainly not my intent. Sometimes the world around me goes too fast and I need to get off. When I walk away, I wish you would let me find a quiet place to spend time alone.

I wish you understood that grief changes people. When my child died, a big part of me died with her. I am not the same person I was before my child died, and I will never be that person again.

I wish very much that you could understand my loss and grief, my silence and my tears, my void and my pain. BUT…I pray daily that you will never understand.

Note: Since I originally shared this here a fellow blogger and another friend pointed out that you can substitute the word “child” with “spouse,” “parent,” “sibling” or “close friend” and that many, if not all, of the sentiments would apply to those who have lost a loved one of any age.