Today’s post is the second of five days of posting about grief following the death of a child.
Monday’s question: Based on your experience of grief, what would you like the general public to understand about the loss of a child?
Today’s question: What would you say to a parent just beginning this grief journey? What would you want them to know?
“The beginning of this is mostly shock. I slept a lot and became very lonely. No one understands. The good news is that you can benefit tremendously with grief recovery. There is a new spirituality and hope that evolves if you allow it. You will be bitter and angry but realize this is healthy and natural. Sit with all of your feelings knowing that a sense of peace will one day creep in. Don't ever feel that you owe another person an explanation. You will feel sometimes like you do and that's okay but a lot of times you won't like their reactions. I have learned to keep private with my loss or only talk to the few people that have made me feel peaceful with my sharing. Protect yourself. This is something no one can begin to wrap their head around.” –Becky
“Every grief journey is different. I learned that specifically in a support group for parents who had lost a child at Transitions GriefCare. Whatever you are feeling is valid. There is no timeline or set of behaviors you have to follow. Your grief is your own. Honor what you feel.” –Anonymous
“On a personal level, I experienced a shift in the way others related to me. Some who had respected and honored my individuality prior to my loss viewed me solely as the woman who lost her son afterward. Before my grief experience, I had always believed that I was called by my name first and by 'mother' second. So, compounding the grief at losing my son was the grief of losing my own identity. I did not know who I was. This new perception of me brought me to feel that not only had my son died, but also so did I.
“What is most important to me is that this shift has made it more challenging for me to grieve for him in my own way: To set his spirit free, to unchain his soul from mine, and to live knowing that his tragic life and death had passed and he had at last found peace.” –Anonymous
“For a mother, I would touch her hand and let her know she will keep breathing. I'd offer her the notion to be in the presence of people who love and care about her. And ask anyone to respect her need to be alone, too. I find myself awake in the night processing my most personal loss. It says to me I need more quiet space in the day, so I can grieve in the light, and where my brain can join my heart. I'd let her know you never live the previous day again. It helped me to realize time moves forward involuntarily around the clock.” –Amy
“Take your child with you wherever you go!!! And let others know he/she is present so the conversation will include your loved one."
“It is long and arduous. It is similar to a tsunami, strikes unexpectedly and washes away all my reserve."
“It is most difficult to forgive persons who were unkind to your child."
“It is extremely difficult to explain and truly no way to describe the deep sickening sorrow burrowed in a mother (except perhaps to another mother who has lost a child).” –Marie
“To a parent beginning the journey, I want them to know it’s important to grieve in your own way in your own time, ideally with the support of friends and others who’ve gone through loss of a child. Counseling, whether in a support group or with a religious or mental health professional experienced with the grief process can make the journey easier and at times may be essential to moving forward. Grief can lessen over time, but never disappears. Life can regain beauty and joy but you will not believe that for quite a while. It will take time and no one can tell you how long.” -Anonymous
“Your life is forever different from the moment you learn of your child's death, and not in a good way. You will have to learn to live with it, if you make the choice to go on. That choice is yours and yours only, and some parents just can't do it. But I encourage you to try ... and once you make the choice to try, you should give yourself permission to say and feel and behave in whatever way helps you survive for however long that takes. I believe that you will eventually even give yourself permission to laugh and be happy at times. That is the beauty of time and healing and pushing through the grief - to get to the happiness that still can be part of your damaged life journey.
“You will always grieve your dead child. The grief will not feel as deep and vast and overwhelming and all-consuming as it does in the days, weeks, months, and years immediately following the death. Other parents of dead children 'get it' and can be a huge support in your journey to your new future - the one that doesn't include your dead child. We are here to show and tell you that life does go on despite the hole in our hearts that never heals.” –Kim