Editor’s note: the following is from The Compassionate Friends, which offers support to bereaved parents.
When a child has died, the normally festive holiday season can be one of great sadness and pain for the family that finds itself with an empty chair at the dinner table. Friends and family so often ask us what they can do to help those mourning the death of a child at the holidays.
There are many gifts that cost very little for friends and family to give, but can be very helpful to the bereaved at this time of the year. Some of those gifts include:
• The Gift of Remembrance — When you send a card or talk with the family, remember the child by name. While you might think this would bring pain to the family, there is more pain when it appears the child has been forgotten.
• The Gift of Understanding —Realize things will be different this holiday season than before the child died. Tasks which were routinely completed in the past may now go undone.
• The Gift of Self — Help the bereaved with some of those “routine” things that need to be done such as shopping and preparing meals. Bring some holiday goodies.
• The Gift of a Memorial Donation — Make a donation in remembrance of the child to a favorite charity that the family may find important in their lives.
• The Gift of Hope — Make them aware of a local self-help bereavement organization whether it be The Compassionate Friends or another group where the members have gone through a similar loss and are ready to help families that are grieving.
• The Gift of Kindness — If there are children in the household, offer to take them shopping for whatever holiday presents they may wish to purchase. The hustle and bustle of the stores with holiday music blaring can be overwhelming to bereaved parents.
• The Gift of Time — Offer to drive the family to a remembrance service, whether it be through a Compassionate Friends chapter, another bereavement group, hospital, funeral home, or church. Your presence will show that you truly care.
• The Gift of Love — Let them know that, even though the family feels very alone, there are others who care deeply about them and will truly be there to provide support along the way.
If you know someone who has lost a child, open your hearts and become a friend who is there through the thick and thin of life. Sometimes words are not necessary, just be there!
The bereaved person needs an outlet for their grief that is safe, anonymous, confidential and non-judgmental where they do not feel vulnerable, where they feel comfortable to let go, and where they feel comforted. That’s what The Compassionate Friends (TCF) strives to offer bereaved parents.
TCF Meetings are held on the last Thursday of the month at 7 p.m. at the People Place, 3402-27th Ave. in Vernon. For more information, please contact any of the following: Darlene at 250-558-5026: in Vernon or Kelli at 1-250-379-2465 in Falkland.
We invite all bereaved parents and their families to join us in remembering our children at the annual Candle Lighting on Sunday. The Vernon Candle Lighting will be held at Paddle Wheel Park hall, Okanagan Landing Road (on the lake side) at 6:30 p.m.; doors open at 6 p.m. Candles will be provided and can be taken home. You are also encouraged to bring a picture of your child or children to be placed on the remembrance table. After the service you are invited to stay and join us for coffee, tea, juice and goodies. This is an opportunity to recognize and ritualize the pain we feel as the world around us becomes festive with preparations for the holiday season and an excellent occasion to talk with other bereaved parents in an informal way.
The Compassionate Friends of Vernon has compiled a bereavement package designed to offer comfort and guidance as you begin to grieve the loss of your precious child. If you or someone you know would like a package mailed out, please contact Darlene at 250-558-5026 or e-mail me at Vernon@tcfcanada.net