Demelza’s Psychotherapeutic Services Lead, Jo, shares her thoughts on how we can all support families who have lost a child, exploring the support Demelza offers and how we can apply those lessons to our own lives.

When I reflect on time spent with bereaved parents, it reminds me of many things. That today there are parents trying to make sense of their new world, a world that has a pain that does not leave, with a longing to hold their child that does not diminish over time. It reminds me of the questions asked and how often they remain unanswered or lead to more questions and time spent searching, with an appeal to others who may not know how to respond.

Often the death of a child renders the world speechless. Bereaved parents are left walking a lonely path, even when surrounded by others. Conversations stop as people search for “the right words” to say and unsure of their selection hold back in fear of making things worse (a fear that raises a weary smile as parents share “as if it can get any worse”).  Within personal relationships, work environments or in social situations communication plays a pivotal role in how bereaved parents learn to accept grief within their life, enabling them to find meaning in the tomorrows, an essential part of the healing process.

At Demelza, we can provide the care that does not back down, by walking alongside parents as the shape of grief changes over time.

Using communication as a central pathway to navigate the complex and painful terrain that grief presents, we know that communication provides an opportunity for emotional expression, one where feelings can be shared and explored with others. Creative activities, through art for example, have supported this process at bereavement events.

Parents have shared the importance of the time spent with Rachel, one of our art therapists: “I have really enjoyed….. having the space created to remember together.  It’s been sad but lovely meeting others who also understand… coming to Demelza helps me feel closer to my child and allows opportunity for talking about things as a family too.”

Joining with others can alleviate the sense of isolation and loneliness that accompanies grief, providing a moment where experiences are normalised surrounded by others who “get it”. Communication becomes a vital support system helping bereaved parents to cope with their loss, something the In-Touch newsletter has been able to achieve. By having opportunities to share, express needs and seek support the parents’ networks are strengthened, extending to family and friends and wider communities. This strength through connections is vital as it not only helps the families themselves, but it serves to role model with others how to best support, allowing those around bereaved parents to become an ally in grief, rather than an observer of loss.

We need to talk and honour the names and the memories of the children taken from parents too soon as we hold the conversations that challenge us and find ways to reach those who are experiencing the overwhelming loss that the death of a child creates. By doing so we can become part of a movement that not only gives permission or encouragement to speak out but facilitates it. Through bereavement cafes, newsletters, events, groups, befriending, therapies and others Demelza shows a continued commitment to learn from the experiences that bereaved parents share. Today, on National Bereaved Parents’ Day, seek to connect  and show through words and acts of kindness how thoughtful communication remains at the centre of support, allowing us to be present with families at a time and in a way that is right for them.

Read more about how Demelza helps to make a difference to bereaved families