An old friend (now long distance) lost her 7-year-old daughter this weekend. Lots of us are communicating with her via phone and email, but I feel at such a loss... I don't know what to say. Neither of us is religious, and she is too far away to offer to help with any of the logistical stuff she has to deal with with her two other children.
She is going through such a nightmare, something no parent should ever have to face, and frankly I feel terrified putting myself in her place, imagining what I would need.
Wondering if anyone has any advice for real ways to help, and ideas for things to say, or things to not say. I have told her how sad I am, how sorry, that we are thinking of her and wish we were closer. I also stayed up half the night last night watching E breathe.
I'm not sure that anything other than that is okay to say. Other than going down to be there with her, there isn't much you can do from the distance. If she is that kind of friend, and it is even plausible, go.
I think it sounds like you're saying all the right things. Maybe a gift certificate of something she would like? A collection of photos and memories of her daughter (maybe save that for a couple of weeks)? And yeah, if you're that kind of friend, and can be there to help, go.
I'm so sorry that happened to her. Terrifying. I needed a reminder to give my kid an extra big hug today.
Continue being supportive now but remember that she will continue to need support in the weeks to come even after most people have stopped calling. If travel isn't possible a short note each week possibly with a treat (choclate, fancy tea or coffee samples) to remind her that you care. Each of the "firsts" in the next year will start the hurt all over again so notes then to let her know that you are thinking of her will help. Let her know that you are there to talk to about whatever she needs to talk about now or down the road.
I have no idea what else that could be said. That is just horrible.
But I think Tea has a good idea about keeping up the support after time has passed. She's definitely going to need it--I can't even imagine.
Not much to add, what everyone has already said seems to be all you can do right now.
My daughter just turned 7 a few days ago - if she died now, I would be inconsolable. What a tragedy. I'm so sorry this happened to her little girl.
Yes, send something. Not flowers, but something nice. Something that she would like. I mean... there's nothing to say, it's pretty much every parents' worst fear. Something nice will say you're thinking about her without offering useless platitudes.
Frankly, I am fairly convinced life would not go on if my child died.
Oh, god, Danica, I'm sorry. I'm always afraid of spouting platitudes, too, but it's okay to acknowledge outright that words are inadequate. Also, I third the importance of making sure support and compassion are there for her long-term. A good way to help facilitate this is by reading up on the stages of grief (you can google it: Elizabeth Kubler-Ross) and suggesting to others that they do as well. Your friend doesn't even have to know that her friends are doing this -- you might never ever mention it to her -- but it can help a lot if the people around her and her family understand how grief unfolds, how jagged and unpredictable and back-and-forth it can be, and how very very long-lasting.
Hugs to you and your friend.
My absolute worst nightmare. I'm so sorry for her loss.
I think you've been very appropriate and I think the follow up after a month or two will be absolutely critical. I recently read a blog series called "Donna's Cancer Story" that may be worth reading. It's so hard to know what to say, but I think the biggest mistake is people not saying anything. Like it might "remind" them that their child has died. I can't imagine that they ever have a moment again when they don't remember that their child has died, and talking about her (the daughter) will help the mom know that others remember her, too, and will keep her memory alive.
Thanks everyone, this is helpful. I've reached out for ideas in some other communities as well, and one thing that I keep coming back to is to keep in touch, especially on birthdays, anniversaries, etc.
We have chatted a couple of times, very briefly, and she has stated that she feels like she needs as much contact as she can get. She says she feels like it's still not completely real, and yet it is, which is, you know, horrible.
Part of what is hard about this for me (although it feels selfish and crazy to even mention it, but it's really affecting how I am experiencing this and what I feel like I'm able to do for her) is that I have been struggling, really really struggling, for the past two and a half years or so with very intense anxiety and panic attacks, almost completely centered around my child's health and safety and well-being. I've been seeing a really fantastic therapist, and went back on medication a few months ago, which has helped some, but I"m still not at the place I want to be as far as my baseline level of anxiety. Seeing a friend go through this is horribly scary from that place. This week has been very hard.
On the other hand, seeing our community of friends come together and do what we can for her has been heartening. She knows that she is loved, and she knows that we will always remember and love her daughter, and the we mourn her loss too. From what I can tell, there has been blissfully little of the "It was God's will....She's in a better place now" sort of response. I know there is comfort there for people who hold those beliefs, but when you don't and have suffered a horrible loss....well, my experience is that they don't feel comforting at all.
Anyway, thank you all for your suggestions and support. I feel grateful for this community, even though I have been much more of a lurker than a poster. It's comforting to know that you guys are all out there.
After our loss the one thing that helped a lot was food. Neither of us wanted to cook and honestly we both stopped eating regular meals. It was a wonderful thing to have friends drop by with dinner in hand. I know you said it was long distance but you could probably find a local restaurant that will deliver to them.
Nothing was worse than the religious folk. Every time someone said "God's will" it took every ounce of my being not to punch them in the nose.