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How to Help Parents Grieving the Loss of a Child

Actor John Travolta and his wife, Kelly Preston suffered a devastating loss on Friday when their 16-year-old son, Jett, died. Being predeceased by a child is a parent's worst nightmare. The mere thought of losing one's offspring is enough to bring a mother or father to tears. The reality is difficult to fathom so finding the words to appropriately comfort someone who is grieving such a loss can be hard. Here are some tips to use in coping with the sensitive task of supporting a parent whose child has died.

  • Behave naturally
  • Show genuine concern
  • Offer love patiently and unconditionally

To see the rest of the suggestions,


  • Offer hugs or an arm around the shoulder, as appropriate
  • Sit next to the person who wants closeness
  • Make it clear that you are there to listen
  • Express your care and concern
  • Say that you are sorry about the loss
  • Say “I love you” if you feel close enough
  • Talk openly and directly about the person who died
  • Cry if you feel like crying
  • Keep in mind that evenings, weekends, anniversaries and holidays can be extra challenging times.

Our hearts go out to the Travolta family.

Join The Conversation
jessie jessie 8 years
***their*** can't spell..sorry
jessie jessie 8 years
my best friend and her hubby lost there 11 month old to a drowning. she would call me and i would listen. i made a point to visit her when she hinted about us visting. sent little cards to her. nothing sad, funny ones. sometimes the best words are nothing at all.
Greggie Greggie 8 years
Also, remember that miscarriages count.
kia kia 8 years
Be there for them when they need it. Their needs will really depend on the circumstance and how they have worked together as a familiy over time. My family has experienced a lot of death. My parents had 7 kids and lost 3 (heart surgery, birth complications, and SIDS). Each one hurt my parents immensely but in different ways. When my oldest sister died in surgery it hit them hard and a family friend took us for a series of sleepovers to help out. When my little brother died of SIDS they didn't want us out of their sights and there were no words of consolation and maybe my parents needed to withdraw for a while. I don't know.
Greggie Greggie 8 years
Most importantly, follow the parents' cues. Talk if they want, don't talk if they don't want to. When friends of ours lost their daughter, the last thing they wanted to hear was "Our thoughts and prayers are with you." And do not ever say things like "maybe it was for the best" or "sometimes these things just happen."
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