The loss of a Loved One

Ways Parents Can Cope With the Death of a Child

  • It is most important to be gentle and kind to yourself. Have patience with your grief. Over a long time the intensity and frequency of the emotions will lessen.

    Husbands and wives tend to grieve differently. It is very difficult for one to meet the needs of the other when grieving styles differ. Couples may need to negotiate when and how to talk about their grief. Don't expect your partner to be able to read your mind. They cannot know what you need, unless you tell them. If because of their grief they cannot provide the support you need, find others to talk to.

    Give yourself permission to mourn:

    * Reading books on parental bereavement and joining support groups for grieving parents (like The Compassionate Friends) can be very helpful.
    * Talk about your child. People may avoid mentioning your child's name, because they don't want to cause you pain. Unfortunately it's up to you to let them know how important it is to you.
    * Keep a journal or write about your feelings. This helps to express the emotions. Over a period of months you will be able to see how things change for you.
    * If talking and writing don't feel helpful, find something active to do. It may be related to your child's interests or a way to remember your child. Some people, particularly men, find active working helps them work on their grief.
    * Memorialize your child. Write down memories as they occur. It's a good way to ensure that you won't forget things about them. Actively create a memorial or ritual to continue your child's part in your lives.
    * Be mindful that in the first year, you experience all of the firsts (e.g., Mother's Day, family gatherings, holidays) that trigger your grief. In the following years, you have a better idea of what to expect. You may want to think of starting some new traditions on these days.

    These tips will help to ease the emotional roller coaster:

    * Get plenty of rest. If sleep difficulties persist for many months, you may want to speak to your physician.
    * Maintaining a good diet is essential. While you may not feel like eating meals, eat numerous healthy snacks throughout the day.
    * Exercise on a regular basis.

    When to Get Professional Help:

    If depression and anxiety or panic attacks continue past six months to the point that you cannot maintain normal activity, you may want to contact a grief therapist and/or your physician.


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