The best way to support grieving parents is to let them know that it’s ok to smile, laugh and dance again.

By Ruth Molinari

This is us, a month after Emilio’s passing. That’s right, a month, and there we were smiling. We were attending the Creative Emmys in support of our dear friend, who was nominated for Best Stunt Coordination. We got all dressed up, jumped in a Limo with our best friends, and began the night. I was happy to go! I was eager to step out again. I so desperately wanted to feel normal. That night, we laughed so much, we cheered on our friend, we drank and we DANCED for the first time together. An incredibly powerful moment for the both of us! I felt so grateful. Grateful to feel joyous enough to move my body and dance. I remember looking up at our friends on the dance floor, they rushed over to us and we all huddled together…no words were said…no words were necessary. I felt safe. It’s times like those that get you through it….friends like those who help you hurdle along, without judgement.

I recall around the same time, us having dinner with friends, when an acquaintance of my parents saw us enjoying ourselves at the table. The look on her face said it all! She was so shocked to see us and actually looked disappointed. What that acquaintance did not know is how much I cried that day or cried myself to sleep that night. Is there a proper way to go about all this??! Nothing is natural about outliving your children so I don’t think there is a proper way to go about your business and getting on with your lives.

Although I’m Jewish, I have never been a religious person. I cherish bacon and obviously don’t keep Kosher. I’m connected to God and the Universe on a spiritual level. My faith is unbreakable. Anyway, there are many traditions and customs intertwined in Judaism as there are in every religion. One of them is a Shiva, which traditionally, is the week-long mourning period for immediate family. During this time, extended family and friends visit those mourning to pay their respects.

We didn’t sit Shiva for Emilio simply because it didn’t feel right to us. Only close family and friends came over and they did for months…all day and all night. I think one should do whatever it takes to move on, to keep moving forward. There are no rules to this. There is no proper way to move on from the loss of a child. Smile, laugh, and dance as soon as you can and as much as you possibly can. Wear hot pink if that makes you feel better!

The best way to support someone who has lost a child is to let them know it’s ok to smile and laugh and dance again. Take away their guilt, by reminding them how good and vital it is to feel joy in their hearts. Take them to a comedy show, watch comedies at home with them. Play music for them, something upbeat and light. Or, simply sit with them and listen.

“when you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance”
by Mark D. Sanders and Tia Sillers