“I’m so sorry.”
Immediately following the death of a child, this is all you need to say. There is no perfect phrase to ease the pain, but heartfelt sympathy and a hug is sometimes all that’s needed to show your condolences. Then, help! There are myriads of details to be taken care of after a child dies, and often the parents are in shock—dazed and in a heavy fog. They may not even know what their needs are. Create a list of specific things that might need to be done and ask them which of these things they would like you (or others) to do.
- Help make phone calls to family and friends to inform them of the death. This can be very difficult for a grieving parent to do over and over again.
- Pick up family or friends from airports, train stations, etc. who may be coming from out of town.
- Create a program for the memorial service that can be given out to those who attend.
- Obtain a guest book or make one. Encourage those who come to the service to sign in. Later, the parents will appreciate the reminder of who attended.
- Provide flowers for the casket or tables at the service.
- Take photos of the memorial service and/or graveside service.
- Make a recording of the service.
- Create a video of the child’s life.
- Compile a collage of the child’s photos.
- Help select clothing if the child is to be buried.
- Help clean the house.
- Ask if you can wash, iron, dry clean, or repair any clothing that family members are planning to wear to the service.
- Wash the car.
- Mow the lawn.
- Stay at the family’s home while they’re at the service. There have been rare cases when homes have been burglarized during a memorial service by someone who checked the time of the service in an obituary notice.
- Provide food for family and guests.
- Provide a gift certificate to a restaurant to cover the cost of a meal for the family so they don’t have to worry about meal preparation or clean-up for one evening.
More ideas to come.