The Advice I Wish I Got After My Son Died

when my son died

When my son died, I received a lot of advice. I found people do not know what to say. They default to the things they have been conditioned to say during these times. It came from many different sources, most of which had never lost a child. The advice came from good intentions, but it was hollow. Not at all what I needed in that moment.

When someone would tell me it would be OK, I was angry. They would say everything happens for a reason and I should trust God. More anger. Then there was, “Give it time. Time heals all wounds.” It doesn’t. Then there were the people that tried to facilitate a connection. Here, call Jane. She lost her son, too. I was not in a place talk to other bereaved mothers and hear all about their experience. Everything felt like pressure towards a direction someone else thought was best for me. Someone that had never stood where I was standing.

If you haven’t noticed, there is a lot of anger in grief. It is unavoidable so you should just learn to embrace it early. It made me feel like I was going crazy. Everything made me mad. I hated their advice yet I found myself starting to wonder if I should listen. It didn’t resonate, but I was desperate. So I started judging my grief. It made me question everything I was doing and feel as if I was doing it all wrong. That made me more angry.

Then I had a breakthrough. A grief breakthrough.

I don’t recall the cause or the source, but I suddenly understood what I needed to do. It all made sense.

My epiphany? My grief is only about me. The journey I walk is my own. No one can tell me how to do it. I simply have to do whatever I feel is right in the moment for me. It is not my job to help make others feel better. I cannot be concerned for how they are doing. I know it sounds harsh and unfeeling. However, there is an “I” in grief. As there should be! It is the only way because MY son died! This was about Cameron and I. No one else. The rest of the world has their own path  to follow and they must figure it out on their own.

It seemed so simple. Selfish, but simple.

Since my son died, I have changed the way I talk to someone that has experienced loss. I never tell them I am sorry, that is the worst thing to say when someone dies. I am no longer afraid to say, “That really sucks!” It does. Then I tell them I am thinking about them and sending love. I really am. Love is all that matters. If I feel the urge to share advice, I simply tell them their grief is unique to them. They have to do whatever is right for them and not compare themselves to anyone else. Don’t worry about what anyone else tells you. Just follow your gut.

This advice would have saved me so much agony.

What is your go to advice?

advice for bereaved mother

22 Comments on “The Advice I Wish I Got After My Son Died”

  1. We have lost a daughter age 21 and son age 50 our hearts are broken we don’t have any more family , we never got any help after we lost both our daughter passed away 33 years ago our son passed away year gone November on our wedding anniversary, we love and miss both so much our lives are empty we try and help each other get though each day , thinking of every one who have lost a loved one xxxx ??????

    1. That is a lot of heartbreak! It is a tough road to lose a child (let alone 2). Much love to you both.

  2. My son passed away February 8 of this year. I have spent all day reading your blog and it has really helped me. I have felt so alone and lost. This article really hit home. Thank you so much for sharing your story. Losing a child sucks! Much love to you, please keep doing what you’re doing and helping other bereaved mothers like myself get through this awful time.

    1. Sarah – I am so glad you found comfort in what you have read. You are definitely not alone. Losing a child does suck. Reclaiming your life after is a daily thing. Much love to you as you navigate your loss. There are so many of us out there ready to support each other through this journey. XO

  3. I have lost two children one at age 20 and then one who is handicapped my daughter 8 years after he got killed. I am very angry and I can’t get myself out of this depression I have lost two children and that is very hard

    1. That is an incredibly hard road. Anger makes sense. It’s such a big part of grief because the loss (both of your losses) go against nature. It’s not supposed to be this way. Life can be very unfair. Sending lots of love your way.

  4. I lost my son to SIDS when he was 10 weeks old, & I quickly learned who I could go to & who were just going to spout off worn out comfortless cliches. Luckily, I had 3 main people who were my whole support system when it happened. They knew they didn’t know the answers, but they allowed me space to talk about my son, my grief, & my fears of having failed as a mother. They gave me love, & even almost 8 years later, they assure me that grief isn’t something I “should be over by now,” that it’s a lifelong process that changes forms along the way. Because of them, those are the words I offer to other people who experience a loss.

    1. Loss definitely shows us who our people are. Like you, I had a few people that didn’t allow things to be uncomfortable. They kept inserting themselves, were willing to sit in the silence, and allowed me to talk (and also talked) normally about my son. Cherish those people! Your words of wisdom are so true and great advice for anyone new on this path. Hugs!

  5. My son has been gone for two years. I am either thinking about him, talking to him or avoiding looking at his picture and being in the moment with him because it is so fresh and still hurts so much. The more time that passes, the more unbelievable it is that he is gone. His 9 years of life were spent in and out of hospitals until he could fight no more. Anger was and still is a big part of what I feel. Anger at parents who take their children for granted. Anger at people who are well meaning and say that they are praying for me when all their prayers for healing my son were left unanswered. I miss him so much and it sucks that he isnt here and it just is not fair. I just want to be with him.

    1. I agree the more time that passes the more unbelievable it seems to be. I also realize that I’ve built this wall around the pain. If I sit with the reality of him being gone or think too long about the details I find myself slipping right back to how I felt early on. Anger was big for me too. It can be hard to manage how much you let yourself feel it. Sending lots of love.

  6. Losing a child sucks, parents are not supposed to bury their children. I turn to god for comfort, read the bible and listen to gospel. But I have come to the conclusion that we live in an imperfect world and that we have to keep breathing, that’s why it makes it to so hard to continue living with so much pain.

    1. You’re right, it does suck. We should never outlive our children. It is so important though to find what works for you to continue living after. Hugs.

  7. My daughter’s death in 2015 destroyed my family. My brother found it easier to pretend I didn’t exist than support me. This caused added pain and a broken relationship with my parents who were angry at me for not feeling sorry for him. We don’t even speak anymoreas they weren’t interested in talking through it. So I lost them as well as my daughter. I find comfort and support in my grief from a few good friends, without them I would be really struggling.

    1. Relationships can change so much after child loss. The people you think will be there in your lowest times aren’t always the ones that can support you. Just one more reality that slaps us in the face. I’m so glad you have a few people you can count on to offer what you need. It really is so important. Sending love.

  8. The loss of our 22 year old grandson has left our entire family struggling with his death. We all have our own way of dealing with it. I watch my daughter,her husband and their other grown son live each day with the recognition that their lives will never be the same. We hold tight to each other. Others who have never lost a young member of their family really can’t relate to this situation so they do the best they can to try to make you feel better when in reality there is nothing they can do. Much love to those who are going through this nightmare.

    1. Loss really does change your life in a way only others who have experienced it can relate. Sending lots of love your way!

  9. My son passed away Feb 26,2017 He was 47 years old. I am still so angry. He was a wonderful person. One person said time heals all wounds. They never buried their child. Time will never heal this open gaping wound. I miss him so much He was a bright light to all who knew him. The best words for me to hear were. I’m so sorry for your loss. One other person said they didn’t talk to us about him because they didn’t want to remind us that he died. Really???i wake up everyday knowing that. People need to talk about your loved one. It keeps the memory alive We need to talk about him. I have always been strong in my faith however this has taken a toll on that. We’re not supposed to bury our children. I am sorry for everyone who has gone through this.

    1. You’re right, we aren’t supposed to bury our children! Time does NOT heal this wound. We simply learn coping mechanisms to carry the weight of the grief. I also have people that ignore the topic of my son. It’s so hard. My focus has been on surrounding myself with the people that will. It’s what I need to continue on…I’m sure you feel the same. They existed. They lived and died. They are loved…even still. Hugs!

  10. We lost our son June 30, 2017. I have emotions that bounce all over the place. I am finally to the point I just want to stay away from people, except my family. We bought an RV to travel with our sons wife and grandchildren. Our son would be happy about that. I want to remove my name from our church roster. I don’t want anyone to expect anything out of me. Our church was so good to our son and us too, I hate to just say I quit. However, that is exactly what I feel like. My husband does not feel
    Like I do, and I do t want to let him down either. I am just sad to my very bones and so very tired of pretending all is well. What should I do. I want to just lie down somewhere and stay there until I see my sweet 43 year old son again. He battled cancer 6 1/2 Years. I don’t want him to come back to this earth to suffer. I want to go where he is!

    1. I hear you, Kathie! It’s so hard to be around others and feel that expectation. They think we are the same people we were when our sons were alive. Unless they’ve walked this path, they have no idea how much it changes a person. I am a firm believer that you must do what feels right to you. If that means taking a break from people, from church, from whatever it is that causes you additional stress…do it. Surviving loss is about simplifying your life. Letting go of the things that don’t matter. Learning to put yourself first. Down the road you may decide to change your mind again. It’s really whatever feels right to you. I continue to tell myself my son would want me to live the best life possible…what he remembered of our life here. I’m sure your son would say the same. Hugs!

  11. February 3, 2018 is the day that changed our lives forever. Life SUCKS!!
    Our son Curtis 22yrs was killed in a car accident, someone pulled out in front of him.
    I don’t understand, I have so much anger. I hate to be around people, especially when they talk about the “weather” I feel so depressed and I hate that he’s not here w us. We will never see him fall in love, get married, have kids, or dance w him at his wedding. It’s hard to think he’s “better” off cause he wasn’t sick. Everything was perfect. He was just getting his life started. He told me he was ready to buy a house, fall in love and start a new chapter in his life. I get so mad when people say “Time will heal, It’s God will, He’s in a better place” Before my son was killed we laid my mom to rest 3 weeks prior. Life sucks and I need off this roller coaster.

    1. Time most certainly does not heal. I believe loss like this will always have moments it feels like it happened forever ago and in the next breath it can feel like it happened yesterday. Sending you lots of love and strength. The two biggest losses (your mother & your child) within 3-weeks of each other is a LOT. Hugs!

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