The loss of a child is the most traumatic experience a parent can go through. This moment could make you feel shattered and you need to know that everything you’re feeling is valid – whether it is sadness, anger, rage, or guilt. No two parents grieve their child the same way, but healing is possible for everyone. With support and understanding, you can start your journey toward acceptance and peace.
Mourning Your Child: Is Your Grief Normal?
Going through the loss of a child is the most stressful experience anyone can encounter in their life. It is no wonder that grieving is the most complex process, and there are no right or wrong feelings. However, trying to understand your feelings may help comfort you and start your healing journey.
Shock, anger, guilt, sadness, depression and anxiety are some of the most common feelings parents experience. While it is normal to feel them, it is important to take the necessary steps not to remain in this state for this long because it impacts your mental and physical health in the long term. Moreover, starting your acceptance journey is even more important if you have other children, as they need to learn healthy coping mechanisms from their parents.
How to Deal with Grieving the Loss of a Child
Connecting to your loved ones to discuss your feelings may help you understand and accept the situation. However, it is normal for a parent to isolate themselves from others during this life-shattering experience.
If you cannot talk to others, or you are worried about sharing your feelings or saying the wrong things, on-line grief counseling can help you by connecting you with a professional. Grief counselors are experienced in dealing with the loss of a child and can provide you with the right resources and coping mechanisms to navigate through painful memories, thoughts, and feelings.
Some people may also benefit from connecting with people with similar experiences. Support groups allow parents to come together, bringing each other comfort and sharing their own successful coping mechanisms to bear the passing of a child.
Be Kind to Yourself
Grieving is a normal process. Rather than pushing your thoughts and feelings away, it is important to acknowledge them and be kind to yourself. Allow yourself to grieve and share your emotions with your friends, family, support group, or grief counselor.
It is also essential to stay away from unhealthy habits, such as drinking alcohol or using drugs to help you with your grief. Although it may feel like helping in the short term, it is only a mechanism that will make recovery a longer, more damaging process. In addition to this, addiction or substance abuse will damage your physical and mental well-being in the long term.
Take Care of Yourself
Although this may be difficult, you should prioritize self-care as it can help with stress and anxiety. Make sure you eat healthy, regular meals, exercise regularly, drink water, read a book or watch a movie, and do things that make you happy, such as hiking, playing or listening to music, or any other hobby you enjoy.
Engage Your Family in Healthy Coping Mechanisms
Helping the rest of the family during these hard times can be beneficial for a parent grieving the loss of their child. Siblings, the other parent, and other family members are very likely to experience grief in a different way. To help during these challenging times, you may want to:
- Engage them in healthy coping mechanisms, such as keeping a journal, participating in outdoor activities, taking up a new hobby, art projects, or DIY projects.
- Be patient with others. Grief is different for everyone, especially for siblings. Some children may withdraw themselves, others may act out, while others have “normal” reactions.
- Provide support. Sharing can be extremely difficult in this situation, but it is important to remain available whenever your partner or other children want to talk. If possible, you could plan special times when the family members can share memories of the lost child, creating a safe space for your loved ones.
Return to Daily Routines
Although it may seem impossible, the sooner you resume your regular routines, the sooner you will start feeling some type of comfort. Resuming your routine does not mean that everything is the same – it’s important to adjust them after the loss of your child. Make sure you return to work, have family dinners, and organize family events that will help keep the family together.
Keep Your Family Close
It is hard to believe that your family will ever be the same after the child you lost, and that is true. Your family should stay the same, and the lost child should remain a part of it for the rest of your life. Many grieving parents organize a family tradition to commemorate the lost child, or perform acts of kindness, such as donating to a charity or planting a tree in memory of their child.
Here are some other things you can do to always remember your baby:
- Keep a journal where you write to your baby, letting them know how you feel, what you want to tell them, or how much you miss them.
- Light a candle or pray for your child on special days, such as holidays, the child’s birthday or the day they died
- Donate something to a child in the baby’s name
- Keep things that remind you of your baby, such as pictures, clothes, or toys, and keep them in a special box, as these will help you remember your lost child.
It’s Okay to Feel Happy Again
Although it may seem impossible at first, it is important to accept that you will find happiness again. Maybe not now or in the near future, and your life will never be the same again, but you will eventually work through your loss. When it happens, keep in mind that it is okay to feel happy.
Losing a child is the most life-shattering moment in any parent’s life. No other experience will ever be as painful and shocking as the passing of your baby. Coping with the loss is not an easy journey, but it is possible to make it through as long as you receive support, support others, and make efforts to take care of yourself and your family. Also, a grief counselor can help you learn how to continue your life.