Never Say These 2 Things to a Grieving Mom


A few months after my son Bobby died, I had lunch with a few friends. I still wasn’t up to socializing, but I agreed to go anyway. One of the women said something that made me want to jump across the table and grab her by the throat. I know she meant her words as comfort, but at that time it was like rubbing salt in an already gaping wound. It’s now been five years and I can remember my visceral reaction that day.

Here are two things NEVER to say to a grieving mother:

He/she is in a better place. No he’s not! He should be here with his family. With me. How could any place be better?

If you just do X, you’ll find closure. Really? What does closure mean, exactly? Do you think one simple act will help relieve the unrelenting aching of my empty arms?

As any mom will tell you, after 5 years, 10 years, or even longer, there is no such thing as closure. Writing my book, BECAUSE OF GRACE, didn’t bring closure. Putting a brass plaque with Bobby’s name on the Children’s Memorial Tree in South Lake Tahoe didn’t bring me closure. Closure is like trying to grab smoke.

Has anyone ever said anything to you like this? How did you respond?


Because of Grace available on Amazon:

Published by mygoldenchild

Thoughts on grief, loss, and death.

8 thoughts on “Never Say These 2 Things to a Grieving Mom

  1. I’ve seen longer lists than this, and I’m sure you have heard them all. It’s hard to know what to say–and what not to–when someone experiences a loss this deep that we ourselves have not experienced. Thanks for the gentle reminder of two phrases we should avoid. I’d love to know more sometime about the Children’s Memorial Tree.

  2. When my oldest was a mere three year tender sproutling he was electrocuted with 220v on a Friday night. The German ER doctor told us to “kiss him goodbye, he’ll be dead by Sunday.” Thankfully that was not the case, but I did plummet quickly into deep grief while sitting there with him on his hospital bed, expecting to have to let him go. I cannot even begin to imagine what you’ve experienced, and am truly sorry for this enormous loss in your life.

    I once heard a wonderful missionary speak of the loss of her own baby and the depression her grief had brought her to. She recounts how her husband gave her no options but to rejoin him back in their mission field, and that she did so unwillingly. She remembered being so consumed with grief she rarely, if ever, left her modest home.

    One day an unexpected knock came to her door, and when she opened it she found a local woman standing there. They didn’t speak each others’ languages, but this village woman knew, somehow, what the problem was. The missionary had never really grieved. Because of their position, she was forced to appear strong and claim that God had it all under his control.

    Without a single word this village woman stood face-to-face and heart-to-heart with the missionary. She stepped in, grabbed the missionary and held her tightly. Both women began to sob as both mothers grieve the losses of their precious children. She said they stood there for what seemed like hours, though in reality it was more like 20 minutes. Through this priceless moment and this obedient village woman, healing ‘began’ in the heart of this broken mother.

    American’s are uncomfortable when someone else is grieving and in so, want to stop it as quickly as they can– it’s not really the grief they want to stop, but their own discomfort of not knowing just what to do or say. When don’t have any type of “grief protocol” like other countries do. Perhaps if we did, more grief stricken people would actually heal far better.

  3. Jane I am touched by your sharing and can relate. I lost my first daughter at 4 months old and 25 days. She would be 13 now. I have had both of those hurtful statements said to me. I have three more children now and have been told by numerous people that I should feel blessed because of now having the other three, eluding to the fact that having three more somehow makes up for losing one. I am blessed. But children are not replaceable. They are not possessions that if lost can easily be replaced by another. When someone says that to a grieving parent… you minimize our loss, our grief, our pain and the value of our children’s lives. The love we have for our deceased child never goes away…their value never changes in our eyes. When comments like that are made, it is as if they’re being devalued and we are being told that the love we have for them somehow should be replaced by the love we have for our surviving children. That is false, a lie. The other thing that is often done that is painful… is “nothing”. Nothing is spoken about them, anniversaries are not acknowledged; our quiet, lonely, inner world without them is not acknowledged. The fact that we still spend several days out of the year walking the grass of a cemetery, we hang one less Christmas stocking, we kiss and tuck one less in bed, we still struggle at moments with the question of “how many children do you have”… we still….feel….the absence….of…their presence…. these very REAL pains still exist… we are just more quiet about them as time goes by… we are somehow learning to keep our grief to ourselves…. Time doesn’t make all of this go away. Time and the avoidance of others in acknowledging our pain in missing our children… doesn’t make us forget….we could never forget… that would be like forgetting who we are… and losing the ability to feel. Always acknowledge special days in a bereaved parents life….if you fail to… potentially your only adding to their already silent pain. Jane, blessings to you for your heart in sharing your grief your precious son. My heartfelt sorrow and empathy in his death. I await along with you….

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