A child’s death is, in a sense, unnatural. While we are generally prepared for our parents or our older relatives to pass away before us, we are never prepared for the death of our child. This is an especially sensitive loss that may feel different from other types of grief. For those of you who have lost a child and are having difficulty coping, read the article below to get a better sense of what you should expect to happen when facing parental grief and how you can deal with it.
Symptoms of Parental Grief That Aren’t Common to “Normal Grief”
While you should expect to experience the normal sadness, numbness, and anger that accompanies grief, here are some symptoms that are typical for parents who have lost children:
Jealousy and Resentment Towards Other Parents– The harsh reality of life is that it continues despite your loss. You are likely to run into other parents quite frequently after the loss of your child. What you may feel when you see these families is a feeling of jealousy and resentment because they get to have their child while you are not able to. This is a natural feeling and should not be too concerning unless your anger causes you to act out towards these people.
A Lack of Desire to Raise Other Children or Overprotecting Other Children– If you have other children who are surviving their siblings, you may feel no desire to continue parenting or you may have a desire to keep them from experiencing any negative situations in life. Both of these actions are harmful to your other children and you should seek counseling if these feelings are preventing you from being a good parent.
Anger Towards Your Partner– Grief has the ability to change relationship dynamics. After the death of a child, you may not feel as though your partner is grieving properly. These feelings often work both ways and cause tension in the relationship. Make sure to express your feelings to your partner throughout the grief process to ensure that you do not damage the relationship permanently.
Ways You Can Cope
Much like regular grief, there are methods that will help you cope. Here are a few ways that you can grieve the loss of your child healthily:
Take Time for Yourself: It’s natural to feel guilt after losing your child. You may feel as though you have failed them and that you don’t deserve to be happy. This is not true. Take some time to do things that you love and enjoy it. Being happy does not make you a bad person or a bad parent.
Prepare for Major Dates: Birthdays and other important holidays can be rough for parents who have lost a child. Prepare for these days before they occur and come up with ways that you can celebrate their lives during these times. For example, you could choose to create a photo album with kind words from family members that you can look over each time their birthday passes.
Hold Onto Their Major Belongings: Throwing away your child’s things may work for some people but it is not recommended. Hold onto the essentials and keep them around during the most difficult times during the grief process.
Seek Comfort From Other Parents: There are other parents out there who have been through the same situations as you. Seek these people out and share your experiences with them. You can do this by joining a local support group or even forming your own.
Although life may seem dark for a while, it is possible to find the light. Work through your feelings, allow your emotions to work through you, and understand that grief is a natural reaction. You will be able to find happiness and peace once again.