FirstLight Advice to Individuals Supporting a Suddenly Bereaved Family

FirstLight is a trauma-informed organisation, and a member of the Critical Incident Stress Management Network of Ireland.

We provide a National 24-hour Helpline service, Crisis Intervention and a Psychotherapy service. Our services are provided nationwide by our team of professionally accredited, fully insured and Garda vetted psychotherapists and counsellors.

Our team members are professionally trained to provide support to clients experiencing trauma associated with the sudden death of their child. All of our services to families are free of charge and confidential.

FirstLight advice to individuals supporting a suddenly bereaved family

There are no set guidelines as to how much you should be involved or what you should say to a bereaved family, but there are a few things that you can do that will make a world of difference to someone coping with the sudden loss of a child.

Most importantly, make contact, don’t avoid it. When hearing of a bereavement many people including friends and relatives stay away, so even a two-minute call will be appreciated. You don’t need a counselling qualification or special training, just a good ear.

Here are a few tips.


  • Keep it brief.
  • Say how sorry you are.
  • Use the child’s name.
  • Ask if there is anything you can help with immediately according to your professional capacity.
  • Offer future availability.
  • Check they have information about FirstLight, especially the National 24-Hour Helpline 1800 391 391.
  • Leave your own phone number


  • Use any clichéd expressions of condolences such as ‘time’s a great healer’ etc.
  • Ask them to repeat the story unless they are eager to do so.
  • Become defensive of your own or any colleague’s practice.
  • Speculate about anything you’re not completely sure about.
  • Compare it to another case.

Click Here to Download FirstLight's Information Booklet.

If you would like further help, advice or are interested in organising training for your organisation, please call FirstLight at our head office on 01-8732711 or email [email protected] 

  • Dated: Jan 25


National Helpline: 1800 391 391

Head office: +353 (0) 1 873 2711