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When Death Takes Too Soon

January 13, 2022

The call came from a close friend. Moments ago.

His five-year-old grandson’s best friend died in a car crash. His grandson’s friend was six.

My friend asked me for words.

What does one say to a child so young whose friend has passed over? As the story unpacks, there is also the family of the child, coping now with his loss. What do we say?

There are times, moments, where words are unavailable, where words seem so inadequate. This is just such a time.

Worry less about the words to say, than about being there, a witness to the pain, be it for the family or the child.

Sit calmly, quietly with their anguish, their pain. Allow its expression, their grief to flow. Remain close, while still allowing space for the enormity of their feelings to spill.

It is in the spilling of the feelings in a safe space that allows one a capacity to admit the pain and feel the loss. The externalizing of pain enables the internalizing of healing, a process to occur over the passing of much time.

The child may ask questions. So too the parents, the family.

Many of these questions are not asked to be answered but asked as an expression of one’s bewilderment of life and death. Rush not to answer but hear those questions as a statement of existential confusion.

Be mindful of our own challenge in witnessing the pain of another such that we do not rush to quell that which causes us discomfort.

Being there. It’s more important than the words we think we need. Be present now.



In days to come, be curious as to the thoughts and feelings of those bereaved.

Then facilitate conversation.

Then will be the time to talk.

Then you can consider sharing your thoughts.

Are you following me on Facebook yet? If not, you are missing many more posts!

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by video conferencing.

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW for counseling and support – to build your successful practice

Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, former parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

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