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Grief expert reveals what NOT to say to someone who is grieving

A range of experts have given their top tips on how to best deal with grief after the loss of a baby and what to say and what not to say to someone else who is suffering.

Grief is an extremely complex emotion that differs for each individual – but when it comes to getting support and help, many agree that it can be difficult to know where to start.

Just last week, radio DJ Myleene Klass, 43, has revealed she was unable to talk about her four miscarriages for an entire year in an upcoming documentary for W.

The TV personality put the lid on her mental health battle after the ordeal, in which she experienced “sadness, trauma, grief and fear.”

Exclusive to FEMAIL, several UK experts have shared some of their best advice to help you or a loved one through the difficult time of losing a baby…

Experts have revealed how to deal with grief and what to say and what not to say.  Pictured, stock image

Experts have revealed how to deal with grief and what to say and what not to say. Pictured, stock image

1. Think before you speak

Psychotherapist Ruth Mark-Roland says that platitudes about loss do not alleviate the pain for the bereaved, but instead communicate that their loss is minimized and unsupported.

“A bereaved person is not in the space to think about the future, let alone a future without their child, because everything they imagined doesn’t exist,” she explains. “They are torn by the unimaginable pain of their loss.

“They want to be heard, they want to be seen. The small act of acknowledging their pain confirms their enduring agony of loss.”

But according to Ruth, there are certain phrases that need to be said, and others that you should avoid.

What you can and cannot say

do not say:

“They’re at peace now.”

“It must be the best.”

‘At least you have each other’ or ‘At least you have your other child(ren)’.

‘You’re still young. You can always have more children.’

“You will be much stronger and more compassionate because of your loss.”

‘Everything has a reason.’

Do say:

“My heart aches for you, I’m so sorry for your life-changing loss.”

“This loss changes my life, I can’t imagine your pain.”

“There are no words to fully express how sorry I am to hear about your loss.”

“I’m here for you if you ever want to talk or have someone with you, just ask.”

“I really care about you and will do everything I can to help.”

“I know it’s impossibly hard for you, but if you want to talk about… [name of the deceased] I like to share my memories of your child.’

2. Talk to the right people

“Expression is the opposite of depression,” explains Zoe Clews, a mental health expert. “We can’t process grief without expressing how we feel.

“But make sure you talk to ‘safe’ people. That could be a grief counselor, a therapist, a close friend, your spouse or someone who has experienced a similar and heartbreaking loss and can deal with your pain with understanding and compassion.”

She goes on to say that grieving the loss of a baby is a particularly “vulnerable time in your life,” so she recommends being “picky” about who you share your heart with.

“Not everyone will understand or have the EQ (emotional intelligence) needed to support you,” she says.

Meanwhile, in collaboration with Hand on Heart Jewellery, Ruth explains how in Western society grief — including that of a baby or child — is often silenced and ignored.

“Many often feel that there is an expiration date with grief,” she says. “When the funeral is over, life seems to go back to normal for everyone else. But for the bereaved, their new reality is just beginning to sink in.

“Giving the parent the space to talk about their loved one, whether it’s through storytelling or just talking about this life-changing event, is cathartic because they crave a safe space to talk about what they’re consistently denied.”

3. Realize that sadness comes in waves and is different for everyone

Zoe Clews also notes that after the tragic loss of a baby, “you can be paralyzed by it one minute and feel oddly good the next — only to find yourself triggered by the most improbable and return to what if.” feels square. ‘

She adds, “Recovery is not linear, grief is not linear. Allow yourself to feel what you feel.’

4. A Link Object

Ruth explains that in addition to talking about their grief, there are other ways to help with the grieving process.

‘Many next of kin will use a matching object. It can be anything from an object of the deceased to a custom piece of jewelry containing their fingerprint or cremation ashes,” she explains.

‘A connecting object keeps the bereaved connected to their loved one, offers a source of comfort and recalls the fond memories and experiences the holder shared with the deceased.’

Elsewhere, Gemma notes that there is no timetable for grieving to be over.

“Because of how painful grief can be, it can be easy to feel like it must be over now,” she says. “Grief takes time and that time is different for each of us. There is no one-size-fits-all.’

She emphasizes that there is no “one way” to feel sadness and continues, “When you grieve, you can feel a spectrum of emotions, for example sadness, loneliness, relief, anger, disbelief.”

“The list is endless. It’s normal to feel one moment and the next, because grief often causes an emotional shock.

‘Sorrow doesn’t have to be about someone or something that’s alive.

“One of the big misconceptions about grieving is that we only grieve for things that have physically died. This is not the case. We can mourn all that we have been separated from.

“This means we may be grieving losing something important to us or a time in our lives when things were different.”

Gemma also points out that “smiling is okay.”

“Sometimes people can feel like they can’t enjoy aspects of life while grieving,” she says. ‘This is not true. There may be times when you feel able to participate in things that make you smile. And there may be times when you don’t. Both are fine.’

5. Do something physical

Zoe notes that as well as duvet days when you can ‘collapse’ – and is a temporary but essential part of the healing process after the loss of a child – it’s important to keep your body moving to process the shock pain and grief.

“Nothing strenuous or taxing (you’ve been through enough), but quiet walks in nature to help you ground,” advises Zoe. “Nature is a great shock absorber – let it support you.”

Gemma also emphasizes the importance of taking care of your physical needs.

“It’s very common for people who are grieving to feel that they no longer feel motivated to do the things that are good for their physical health, such as washing, eating or exercising,” she explains.

“It’s really important to try and stick with these things as much as possible because they’ll work really hard to keep you going at a time when your emotions can’t help that much.

“If you need to, ask a friend or relative to help you meet your physical needs.”

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