It’s every parent’s worse nightmare: a scenario where a young son or daughter passes away, and the parents are forced to bury and mourn the tragic loss of their small child.
Let’s face it, losing a son or daughter would be difficult enough, but the loss of a small child is even more devastating…
No parent should ever have to bury their children, and a small child passing away means that they will never be able to graduate from school, they would never be able to experience marriage or anything else adult-like you would hope your children to achieve had they not suffered a premature death.
Considering what tragedy has occurred – and many feel it’s the ultimate tragedy – and no doubt you are wondering how to deal with the death of a young child, and how can you possibly recover from such a catastrophic event.
Those are great questions, but unfortunately, everyone is different and we all grieve in very particular and unique ways…
Surviving the death and loss of a child takes dedication to live. Now you must make a new commitment to living, as hard or impossible as it may seem right now. You will survive this; however, the experience may change you in a very somber way.
What I can assure you is, however, that the pain and loss will probably never go away. In time though, things become a bit more manageable and the days ahead become a little easier one day at a time.
Through live interviews of people I know, and a little bit of good old research I’ve managed to compile a list of tips and coping strategies that may aid you in your road to recovery.
Hopefully, if you take what I say to heart, and apply some of the suggestions below, I may be able to help you to move forward with some wisdom that has helped many folks over the years.
Let’s begin with point number one, shall we?
It’s Important Not Tot Blame Yourself:
Regrettably, many parents go on to blame this tragic loss of life as something that could have been avoided – full control over the mysteries of death and life if you will.
Granted, in some instances such as negligence this guilt could be warranted. However, in the event that your child expired due to a motor vehicle accident or a disease such as leukemia, there’s no way you could have known or prevented the tragedy that occurred.
I understand that suffering is great when we lose a small child, and as parents, we want to always look for answers especially since we view ourselves as the protector of our children.
And whether you have recently lost a child, or your child passed away some time ago, it’s important to come to the realization that life indeed must go on – especially if you have other children and loved ones who are suffering your pain as well.
Common responses to a child’s death:
As mentioned, parents often blame themselves for the death of a child, so it’s not uncommon for us to face a myriad sense of emotions. In fact, I compiled a list of some of the most common emotions parents face after the loss and death of a child:
Shock: Naturally, after the loss of a child you may initially feel paralyzed, which is basically your mind’s way of protecting you from the pain and near insanity you may be facing.
Denial: Your child can’t be dead. You expect to see your son or daughter walk open the door near to you, and you imagine that you’re living in a horrible nightmare.
Replay: After the death and loss of a child, it is common that your mind may focus on the “what if” scenario where parents often blame themselves. “If I could only have been there to protect them” is a common theme that plays out to many grieving parents.
Yearning: Many parents report pleading obsessively in the form of prayer or otherwise to have even ten more minutes with their child so they can tell them how much they love them, and how much they truly miss them.
Confusion: After the death of a child, it’s not uncommon that your memory may become deluded. You may find yourself floating and not recognizing where you’re going. Due to the enormous shock, your mind is dealing with, you may question your sanity, though you are not crazy.
Guilt: Guilt is perhaps one of the most popular responses to dealing with the death of a child. Parents often psychologically replay their actions or scenario and wonder what they may have done differently.
Naturally, in most cases nothing could have been done which makes this response very difficult one to overcome.
Regrettably, many parents who face tremendous guilt often find that they face this negativity for many years.
Anger: Anger and defeat are common to grief in overall. If your child’s death was accidental, it is very common for these emotions may be enhanced. You may also be angry that life seems to go on for others while your life seems to have come to a bitter end with no hope in sight.
Loss of hope: After the loss and death of a child, parents often encounter an upsurge of grief and loss at the time they would have expected their child to get married, begin school, graduate from college, etc.
Please be cognizant of these possible triggers, and allow yourself to grieve without feeling guilty as this is a normal response to such a traumatic event – it’s also a necessary one that’s part of the healing framework.
How the death of a child affects a marriage:
Most people have the perception that if you’re married or in a common-law relationship, losing a young child often brings two people closer together; they can draw upon each other’s strengths and commonality.
Unfortunately, it’s not always that way…
Numerous studies have noted that grief can sometimes lead to a highly strained partnership. that may continue to erode over time if both parents cannot come together and help one another deal and overcome this tramatic situation.
For instance, both partners often become intensely concerned in his or her own grief with very little concern for the other partners. When linked with the frustration, anger, and guilt that often surround a child’s death, bereavement can be a time of extreme volatility which, in turn, places a huge strain on the marriage.
A grief-stricken couple often finds it difficult to offer support to one another when both feel equal grief. And as many psychologists note: each partner may demand too much and receive far too little.
In order to avoid further strain in the marriage, each person must accept that you both are deeply hurt and in mourning. Moreover, the stresses you are feeling result from your pain, not from something missing in the relationship.
Ways to cope with parental grief:
The resolve of parental affliction may appear like an overwhelming thing to overcome, but it is possible over time. As they say, time is the great healer of all pain – although I should be quick to point out that the event will always be something you will struggle with, at least in the back of your mind.
It’s important to realize that you will never get over the loss of your child. But you will survive it.
As you go through each season, each holiday, each celebration, that may set off another surge of grief, you will gain better tools for coping with the pain and anxiety.
Accept happiness: After the death of a child, parents often feel a sense of guilt in accepting pleasure of any kind.
Conversely, happiness and enjoyment are some of the most important survival tools in overcoming the despair of losing a young child.
Many parents I speak with feel overwhelming guilt if they begin to enjoy life once again, however, you need to know that enjoying yourself is not a sign that you are abandoning your child’s memory.
Take small steps: After the death and loss of a child, it is important to realize that things will not get back to normal overnight. Many experts agree that it’s important to break down the day by using small increments.
For instance, focus on small tasks like taking the dog out for a walk or doing some laundry. Eventually, these small tasks will eventually merge into a full day of things you used to do.
Remember the positive: Focus on the positive events and don’t let others try and tell you that you need to put things behind you if you want to move on.
It’s okay to keep a journal, save the old photos of your child, and just cherish the memories you once shared, and if you’re like most parents in your position feel free to set a candle for them on Christmas and birthdays; This is paramount to the healing process and it will go a long way in helping you recover for the future.
Let others know your needs: Let friends and family know your needs, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
The issue that most bereaving parents make is that they feel with all their hearts that they need to overcome this tragedy all by themselves.
Surviving the death and loss of a child takes dedication to live, and in life, we sometimes need a helping hand to get through the tough times we often face.
As a parent and survivor, you gave birth to life as a promise to the future. Now you must make a new commitment to living, as hard or impossible as it may seem right now things will get easier in time.
Thanks for taking the time to read my post, and if you have anything you would like to add or an experience you had to overcome I would love to hear from you.
As we all know, people grieve in different ways, and in the same manner, we all use various coping mechanisms that work best for one another – especially when we are trying to figure out how to deal with the death of a young child.
If you would like to share what works best for you that would be great as it will help other parents in your situation overcome their loss as well.