As a parent, you can likely understand that those who have lost a child must feel a tremendous pain; however, if you have never experienced this loss yourself, it may be difficult for you to truly understand the magnitude and type of hurt. Losing a child is certainly something that no parent ever wants to go through. If you know someone who has lost a child, educating yourself on the grieving process associated with this loss may make it easier for you to help this struggling individual through her emotional turmoil.
Fear of Letting Go
While many who have suffered a loss try to let go and move on with their lives, it is not that simple for parents who have lost a child, reports AtHealth. In many cases, these parents feel like they must not let go of their child, as letting go is tantamount to forgetting their son. This can make moving past the loss of a child even more difficult, as parents have to tackle the conflicting emotions that lead them to hold onto the memory and simultaneously tell them they must move past the loss to regain a normal life.
Distinctive Sudden Death Pain
When a parent loses a child in a sudden fashion, the pain can be compounded by the fact that the parent is often haunted by the event or the incidents immediately leading up to it. In instances such as this, many parents rehash the event repeatedly, beating themselves up over what they could have done differently. When parents lose a child to sudden infant death syndrome, for example, they can drive themselves to the brink of insanity thinking about what would have happened had they not laid that child down for a nap or had checked on him during the night.
Impact of Child Loss on a Marriage
As the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy reports, losing a child can wreak havoc on a marriage. Often, couples that lose children experience marital challenges as a result because each partner grieves in a different way. The failure to understand the other partner’s grieving process can make communicating with each other about the event a challenge. If one parent was watching the child at the time of an accidental death, it puts an even greater strain on the union, as the other party may hold feelings of resentment towards the watching parent for the loss of the child.
Easing the Pain
While many parents who have lost a child report that the pain never quite goes away, there are some things that these parents can do to make the hurt more manageable. AtHealth recommends that parents engage in practices that promote reflection, such as keeping a journal in which they report upon their feelings. It can also be helpful to talk about the child with others who loved him. Some find that support groups prove effective in navigating through the pain associated with child loss. Those who find the struggle exceedingly difficult to overcome may even benefit from seeking the professional assistance of a counselor.
Even after parents have moved past the initial pain, resurgence of grief is not uncommon, reports AtHealth. Parents who have lost children often experience a revival of these negative emotions each time a special event occurs, such as the child’s birthday or a family holiday. If you know someone struggling with the loss of a child, it is wise to be more sensitive during these potentially challenging times.