In the face of grief and pain, we understandably want to help those who are hurting. But grief can’t simply be “fixed,” and often our attempts to fill the space with words that we think are helpful cause even more pain. In the following poem, a mother reminds us of what not to ask or say when a child dies.
Please, don’t ask me if I’m over it yet.
I’ll never be over it.
Please, don’t tell me she’s in a better place.
She isn’t with me.
Please, don’t say at least she isn’t suffering.
I haven’t come to terms with why she had to suffer at all.
Please, don’t tell me you know how I feel
Unless you have lost a child.
Please, don’t ask me if I feel better.
Bereavement isn’t a condition that clears up.
Please, don’t tell me at least you had her for so many years.
What year would you choose for your child to die?
Please, don’t tell me God never gives us more than we can bear.
Please, just tell me you are sorry.
Please, just say you remember my child, if you do.
Please, just let me talk about my child.
Please, mention my child’s name.
Please, just let me cry.
– Rita Moran