Sooner or later, it comes to nearly all of us. Somewhere between birth and death, we will have to say a final goodbye to someone who is at the centre of our world. But losing a child — that’s never something we, as parents, are expected to deal with, we are not programmed to deal with our child’s death. The feeling of loss cuts deep; we bring children into the world with great hopes for their future — all that promise, all those hopes, all those possibilities disappear in an instant.
As a newly bereaved parent you have been thrust into an experience that is different beyond your wildest expectations. From a comparatively comfortable existence you are thrown into a pit of the most devastating and debilitating pain that anyone will ever know.
No one gets “used” to grief, it is like a wound and it leaves a scar. It does get better, even if time doesn’t heal all wounds completely, but life will never be the same. People have to find a new normal, where they can balance life and still remember the person who has died.
When you are grieving there is a strong feeling to want to be alone. This may even mean that you do not want to be around other close family members or friends. As time passes, it is important to reach out to those who are close to share stories or plans for the future you had about the child who has died. This becomes part of your healing process.
Feelings of unreality, sleeplessness, loss of appetite, general apathy, guilt, hostility and idealization of the dead child are all normal feelings. Many of us who have been bereaved for a year or longer have experienced these feelings‚ and have found ways to protect ourselves and to survive. One parent sums it up this way,
“Often there is a certain amount of guilt involved, whether real or imagined. People need to realize that other parents have these feelings and they are not alone with them. There is something about knowing that someone else has had those feelings and fears: because at times you begin to wonder if there is something wrong with you. I think that no matter how much loving family support, how many friends you have, what your religious beliefs are, or anything else , there are times when it is not enough…it’s very important and beneficial to talk to someone who has been there.”
If you are a newly bereaved parent you may find support and friendship through The Compassionate Friends, a self-help group for parents who have experienced the death of a child. Within this group, as parents we all share the common knowledge of the agony that comes with the death of a child, regardless of the child’s age or cause of death.
If you are further along on your grief journey you may find it helpful to become active in The Compassionate Friends organization by giving back. One of the best ways to receive continuing support through the bereavement process is to help other families just starting on their grief journey.
The Compassionate Friends of Vernon has compiled a bereavement package designed to offer comfort and guidance as you begin to grieve the loss of your precious child. If you, or someone you know, would like a bereavement package mailed to you, please contact Darlene at 250-558-5026 in Vernon.
Our meetings start at 7 p.m. on the last Thursday of each month in the People Place. If you would like to contact us, at any time, our e-mail address is Vernon@TCFCanada.net. The Internet link to TCF Canada is www.tcfcanada.net. For further information please contact Darlene at 250-558-5026 or Natalie at 250-558-7605.