Today’s post is the first of five days of posting about grief following the death of a child.

Today’s question: Based on your experience of grief, what would you like the general public to understand about the loss of a child?

Losing a child...

was losing a part of myself, my body, my soul.

made me numb for about a year.

left me feeling no way forward...though that slowly changed.

was like waking up from the most terrible dream imaginable.

was like having my heart ripped out.

is something that never goes away.

gets better slowly in that I think of it only everyday now, not every minute or hour.

-Anonymous

“It is, indeed, the worst thing that can happen to a person on this Earth/life's journey. Also, parents never forget their dead child or the grief of losing that precious child's presence in their life. A parent thinks about their dead child each and every day, often multiple times, even years after the death. More than anything, a parent of a dead child does not want that child forgotten by those who knew the child. We want to speak our child's name, tell stories and share memories, and hear memories of that child told to us by friends and family members who knew our child.

“Many people are afraid to mention our dead child's name to us for fear of hurting us or making us cry. The public should know that mentioning our child does not suddenly remind us of something we've forgotten ... we know our child is dead, and mentioning their name is something we welcome, even though we may cry when you bring it up. This is not a bad thing, though it is very uncomfortable for people to witness our tears and pain...and think that they've somehow caused that to happen. I've thanked people over and over for mentioning my dead child's name and assured them that my tears and not a bad thing and that they didn't cause this reaction ... it's always there right under the veneer of my 'normal,' 'everyday' behavior...and even though I'll always be sad that my child is dead, I still very dearly love to talk about him with others kind enough to remember him and/or care enough about me to ask how I'm doing.

“I've realized that we parents of dead children remind others of their vulnerability to the fact that children die. We make them realize the possibility that this could happen to them and that's so scary for people to face. All of us know it, but parents of dead children are the cold hard fact of reality that kids do die. It is up to  us - the parents of the dead child - to make it ok to mention our dead child's name ... and assure the public that (though we may cry) we are happy that they remember and are brave enough to say the precious name to us and open up a conversation.” -Kim

“People cannot begin to understand what has happened to us as parents. They just need to know that there is no time frame with this and please be patient. Please don't get irritated because you have decided our time is up and we need to move on. There are ways to help with a gentle smile or by just listening.” –Becky

“Even though my grief does not permeate every moment of each day, the experience of losing my child has altered how I perceive my everyday life. Also, I now feel empowered to direct the tenor of our relationship, something I was unable to accomplish while he was living.” -Anonymous

“I liked the do's and don’ts that appeared in one of your earlier blogs. One in particular: if a parent wants to talk about the child/loss, listen. If the parent does not volunteer information, don't ask a lot of questions, especially do not ask, ‘How did it happen?’ ‘How is so-and-so doing?’ Instead, say something like, ‘I'm so sorry for your loss. If you want to talk about anything, I am happy to be with you and listen.’” -Anonymous

“Hearing my son Stephen's name puts music in my heart. Seeing his name written on a personal card/email/letter puts music in my heart. Seeing his picture displayed in another's home does likewise.” –Marie

“I would like people to know their expressions of sympathy are felt deeply. Simply, ‘I am so sorry to hear of your loss’ is hugely appreciated. When I hear that, I know they know, and I don't have to start news from scratch. I also experience permission to nod, thank, expand, hug, cry...all on me. It is a true gift to hear another person's sorrow for me. It moves me forward with my own grief process.” -Amy