Hey Gentleman, a bit of a sad subject here. One of my coworkers had a child recently (named him Hudson Hawk, how legit is that), a baby boy and after being home for a couple of weeks the baby died of SIDS. I am going to the visitation tomorrow and would like to give something to the father, any ideas outside of the usual flowers and such.
Thank you sirs.
Nothing is more painful to a parent than the death of their child. Nothing. I have served in the Army for many decades and intimately know death from long, painful experience. The only thing you can do is offer condolences (sympathy) for their loss and mourn silently with them. Be fully present with them in their time of unimaginable grief – no chatting, joking, checking your watch, texting, answering your cell phone (leave the damned cell phone in the car!), or averting yourself in any way from their anguish. At most you might offer something like “Please let me know if I can do anything for you”, but say absolutely nothing else. Above all, do not attempt to philosophize about the greater meaning of death, life, or healing. Many jerks have done that during the innumerable funerals I’ve attended over the years and I can assure you such ignorance of human suffering is not quickly forgiven. This time of mourning is for THEM, not you, so all you can or should do is silently and respectfully mourn with them.
My neighbors lost their three-year old in October to the flu (it kills, get vaccinated). The service was heart-breaking. The church was packed with adults singing children songs. It made you want to run home and hug your kids the rest of the day. During the service, the minister offered advice to the crowd. Bad things happen. Don't try to justify it or place blame. It's not anyone's fault. It wasn't God's will for the child to die. You don't know the pain they feel. Console the family. Be supportive in the coming days. Say hello when you see them and help them not feel isolated.
I wen't to a funeral of a coworker's son. In lieu of flowers, our office gave her a gift certificate to a nursery to plant a tree in his memory in the spring.
Nursery, man that is a cool idea. Thanks for that.
"I'm terribly sorry." There's nothing better that can be said.
What to give? I don't know. I can't think of anything relevant.
I agree about the hug and the silent presence. A quote from Allan Quatermain, when his two friends come to visit after the death of Quatermain's son:
"All this while Curtis and Good had been silent, feeling, I suppose, that they had nothing to say
that could do me any good, and content to give me the comfort of their presence and
unspoken sympathy; for it was only their second visit since the funeral.
And it is, by the way, from the presence of others that we really derive support in our dark
hours of grief, and not from their talk, which often only serves to irritate us.
Before a bad storm the game always herd together, but they cease their calling."