It is generally recognised that the death of a child is one of the very worst bereavements and the worst type of pain. Nobody expects to bury their son or daughter.
The unique agony of a bereaved parent is close to my heart. My work supporting people who are grieving is a direct consequence of the deaths of both of my two children.
Here are some of my articles on this topic:
Nobody expects to bury their child
Some reflections on a bereaved parent’s pain, from my own experience:
- A story that is sad but true: The painful path of the bereaved parent
- Profound joy, profound sadness
How the timeline of our lives gets messed up if our child dies before us:
Answering the question: ‘How many children do you have?’
For those with no surviving children
Issues regarding ‘aging without children’:
- Parents with no surviving children: “Aging without children”
- Loss and loneliness – more on “Aging without children”
A look at some of the particular issues faced by mothers:
Something quite amazing:
- Scientists Discover Children’s Cells Living in Mothers’ Brains – The connection between mother and child is ever deeper than thought
Some practical suggestions for coping with Mother’s Day, thanks to Cruse:
Bereaved parents in fiction
This is a post about a bereaved father in Dosteovsky’s ‘The Brothers Karamazov”. The pain expressed here is something that many can relate to.
SUPPORT AND SURVIVAL
Can you survive? Is it possible, and is it even something that you want? Of all the people I meet, it is usually the bereaved parents who are the most shattered by their loss. There is no replacing a child.
The life that we live after the death of our child(ren) is not what we expected or wanted; it is not what we chose. But it is a life to be lived.
Living now will involve a balance. We want to honour our children’s memories and make sure they are not forgotten, and that’s why ‘Continuing Bonds’ activities can be helpful.
On the other side, chances are we have responsibilities to fulfil – perhaps other children, other family members, a job. And then there are the things that we need and want for our own fulfilment and even enjoyment.
Figuring out how to maintain the balance is something that each of us will do in our unique way, but there is something also to be said for interacting with other bereaved parents, who too are struggling to cope with the devastation of their loss. In solidarity, we can learn from each other and at the least, find a safe space to express how we are feeling.
There are some really great organisations that bring bereaved parents together, both in person through meetings and digitally through social media. Top of the list I would put The Compassionate Friends – visit their website at www.tcf.org.uk
(There are usually at least a few bereaved parents at the Living with Loss events I lead, so that is an additional option.)
Whether it is in company with others or on your own, it is important to be kind to yourself.
And slowly, the intensity of your grief will change, and you must might find that there is ‘life after death’ – your life has not ended – there is still more.
For more on coping with early bereavement, see:
This blog is written through the prism of my own experiences, particularly as a bereaved mother, but it also reflects what I am learning as I work with and support others who are grieving. You may have different perspectives, and that’s fine of course, as we each have a unique experience of loss and our own beliefs. But if you do find any of the articles on this website helpful, please comment and share! Thank you!