“Incomprehensible!” “Inconceivable!” “Unimaginable!”
These are the responses elicited when we hear about the death of a child. It is incomprehensible because the death of a son or daughter disrupts the natural order of life. As parents we expect to die before our children. For the grieving parents, other natural order laws are called into question. Will the sun rise? Will Saturday be followed by Sunday? Will I walk if I put one foot in front of the other? It becomes difficult to trust.
When a child dies, these are truths:
- EVERY aspect of your life has/will change.
- Everyone grieves differently.
- People will say hurtful things and those you expect to be supportive are not. You will feel lonely and isolated.
- You MUST grieve; there is no getting around it. It will be the most difficult work you do.
So what can you do to counterbalance these truths?
- You see and experience life through a totally different lens after the death of a child. Knowledge of this will help you understand your new behaviors, thoughts and attitudes.
- Ask not to be judged on how you grieve and do not judge others. Be patient and gentle and request that of others. It is important to know that males and females grieve very differently and we should respect this. It is vital that you communicate how you are feeling.
- People mean well but some things they say are so hurtful. As a bereaved parent you get to decide who you want to be around and who you can “unfriend” for a while. Discover who “gets” what you are going through and can support you. It will come as a surprise to you that it is usually not your spouse or family member as you might have expected. Do not resent them for not being able to support you but rather find someone who can. Join a grief support group where others who have lost a child might be able to begin to understand how you are feeling.
- Tell your loved ones story over and over again. Feel and express your feelings. Know that ALL the feelings you have are NORMAL. Reach out to or reconnect with a Higher Power to help guide you through your incredibly difficult grief work.
The death of a child is devastating. Bereaved parents are in shock and walk around in a numb state. As the numbness wears off and the reality of their loss sets in that is when the grief really hits and when they could use help and support.
Often times after the death of a child, a parent is very interested in and focused on a strong desire to know their precious son or daughter is “ok”.
Once a parent is convinced that their child is at peace, either through a sign they receive or through their faith in a heavenly place, they begin to move forward in their grief.
Parents who have lost a child often desire for something good to come out of their child’s death. They do not want the child’s death to be in vain. They want to honor their child’s legacy and keep his or her memory alive. Bereaved parents have established memorials and scholarships, created laws, held fundraisers, built camps, etc. all to honor their deceased child.
As a bereaved parent KNOW and BELIEVE that you are not alone. With the proper support and grief work you can move forward and learn to live with the pain of grief.
The death of a child is one of the most difficult experiences one can ever go through. It is “Incomprehensible!” “Inconceivable!” “Unimaginable!”