How To Cope With The Loss Of A Child! My Own Pearls Of Wisdom.
Losing A Child: Life’s Greatest Tragedy
Did you ever get punched in the stomach so hard, that you cannot breathe? Like the wind was knocked out of you, and you fall backwards, but somehow never seem to touch the ground, just keep falling & falling.
Getting bad news about your pregnancy or child, can feel like a surreal punch in the gut x’s 1,000, but the sensation, unlike that, doesn’t seem to fade, it seems to intensify in the days and weeks after, and then linger about, for the duration really. To then lose a child, well, the feeling is unlike anything I could ever explain in words, and that is saying a lot, as I’m pretty good about putting feelings into words. It’s an indescribable ache, that no parent should ever, be made to feel. It‘s a loss that leaves you feeling like you have lost a chunk of yourself, and have died to. You feel empty inside.
I felt compelled to write a piece on losing a child, because not only have I been there, and lived through the nightmare for myself, but I happen to be doing a survey which put the subject into my mind. I know to talk and write, is therapeutic, that is for certain, so It’s good for me as well, and I know there are plenty of moms, and dads out there, hurting, and need some advice and guidance, and since I got some years under my belt, since I have had a loss. I would hope to be able to help those, in any way I can, who are still ‘fresh’ in their pain. No it never does go away, it will always linger, and affect you, but does it get better?
Yes, it gets better, as far as you will get yourself out of bed, you will learn to crack a smile again, brush your teeth, and laugh at a funny joke. You will be able to bare more children, watch them grow, and enjoy every second of that, and love your children maybe even a little more then other parents do, because of what you endured. Life will go on, and you will have gained something very special out of your enormous ordeal. Strength you never knew you could posses, and a forever by your side, guardian angel.
I have several myself, and feeling them around me, being aware of them, and knowing that they are real, and there, helps get me through my every day. I have zero doubt there is life after death, and when my time comes, I no longer fear it, because I know, I’ll be greeted by the ones I have lost & that gives me immense peace to think about, and trust me, I always feared death since childhood (weird I know, but yes, since early childhood), and since losing my son especially, I no longer do, because I know I’ll be with him.
Losing a child is the worst thing any living, breathing, human being could every possibly endure, be it before birth, due to a trisomy, or other defect or illness, loss of a baby due to still birth, maybe losing one of two of your twins, losing a new baby to SIDS, or prematurity, or losing a child later on down the line, it’s unfathomable, it’s unimaginable, and yet it sadly happens to someone out there, each and every day.
How do you get through it? Those early days and weeks, that turn into months, and seem to just slip right through your fingers. Every day seems connected, and life becomes one long, seemingly endless, day. How do you get through the pain, and be able to face the day again? I know I said that if I lost a child, I’d just die on the spot, or would be locked away in some sanitarium somewhere, because I just couldn’t go on after that, and yet here I am. I live and breathe, I find joy in my children, and loved ones, but I never forget. My biggest problem was denial.
I try and be so strong sometimes, (more of a curse then a blessing), and I don’t allow myself the proper course of grieving, that most people go through, and put up a front of being unbreakable, which works in many of life’s hardships, but with this one, eventually, even I got broken down. If you don’t allow yourself time to grieve, and i mean really grieve, you truly kill yourself slowly from the inside out. You can’t survive a loss, without dealing with that loss.
Here is my best advice if you have lost a child
1) Don’t numb your feelings, by shutting out the world, and denying your pain. Accept your pain, embrace it, feel it, and work through it.
2) Know this isn’t the end. Believe that your child always surrounds you, and thought you may not be able to see or hear him, he’s always there, and in your darkest hours, you will feel him or her near. If you don’t shut them out, your angels, will give you signs, little things to let you know, they are near and haven’t left you. You will see your loved one again one day. Hope, faith, and love, is boundless & important, in life and in death.
3) Don’t get yourself into any negative behaviors, like smoking, drinking, drugs. If you thought you had a problem before, you just gave yourself another one.
4) CRY!!! I grew up in a home, where big girls don’t cry, and every time I wanted to cry my mother would tickle me. Years later, I have to wonder, if that behavior at home is what has caused me to sometimes laugh out and crack jokes when bad things happen to me, but it’s a very bad thing to do, you got to cry, and better to grieve from the start then to delay the healing process by putting it off. You need to get your feelings out. No one can be that strong.
5) Reach out to others. A death in the family, often brings family together, and if you have family around you, allow them to help you, don’t shut them out. No one is ever going to fully understand your pain, as a mother (dad you feel an insane amount of pain as well, but I can’t help but say, I do believe it’s always a bit worse for the mother who carried that child in her womb). They often won’t know what to say, and you are right, they don’t understand, not fully, but accept that fact, and let them help you. Whether it’s just to talk or for help doing chores and caring for your other children.
6) If you have to, seek professional help. Some people just cannot get passed a loss like this, enough to live, at all, and become secluded from society. In this case, professional help is definitely important & needed. Not only will it help to have somebody to talk to, which is so important, but you may need short term medication, to help with the depression aspect of things. Never be ashamed if you need to take something. You must learn to swallow your pride, if only for a short while. It won’t be forever.
7) Feel important, because you ARE! Know you still have people here in this world, who love you and need you. If you have other children, you especially have to keep yourself going for their sakes. They rely on you. Put focus on the positive things you have, and put your heart and soul into those things, even if it’s a hobby of yours, if you don’t have other children. Just be sure in the process you are dealing, and not submerging your pain. There must be times of grief, there is no quick fix, or a round about way to avoid it . Grief in all honesty, is something that keeps you connected to your child, when they are gone. Remembering them is important, and a good thing, even though it can hurt an awful lot, it can also make you smile to.
8) Create a way to remember your lost child. Example, plant a tree in their name. A tree will grow and grow long after you yourself, have left this world, and is an absolutely great way to pay tribute to your lost loved one. I have done this, and watching that tree grow, having a nearby place to grieve in my own backyard, and seeing the tree bloom and thrive, brings me an amazing amount of peace in my heart. I often feel as if my child’s spirit lives on through the branches of that tree. Do memorialize your loved one, whether the loss was before or after death, it’s not ‘strange, at all, It’s therapeutic.
9) WRITE! Doesn’t matter if you are a poet or writer or not, you don’t have to be. Write just to help your soul, not sell a book. No need for talent here. Poetry and journal writing, has been a part of my life since childhood, and I sware, it’s a very positive way to relieve stress, deal with your feelings, let them out, and work through them. I sware by this, it has helped me through not only this, but many other trials and tribulations, life has thrown my way.
Every ‘Rememberence’ day, like Mother’s day, the anniversary of the death, and birthday’s especially, for some it might be a due date, etc. I write a letter to my child and a poem. I put it in a zip lock baggie and bury it by the tree. You don’t have to bury it, I’m just saying what I do, but simply writing it, helps A LOT, you will see. I even release balloons on birthday’s and anniversaries, w/ my other children, and I buy a cake on my son’s birthday, light candles and sing to him, because I know he’d want me to celebrate his life, and so on that day, though I cry I also celebrate him. It helps, so I do whatever gets me through the day, (especially those extra tough times of year), and so should you. Don’t let anyone make you think that is weird. NOT grieving is weird.
10) Forgiveness. No matter how your child dies, even if it was still in the womb, as a mother, you still place some blame on yourself, even when there is nothing you could have done, it makes no matter, we are pre-disponsitioned to feel guilt when anything bad happens to our kids, it’s just the mother’s way, but it is NOT your fault, and there is nothing that you could have ever done to change the situation at hand, so you gotto learn to not beat yourself up, but learn to forgive yourself, and forgive God. I know even though growing up in the Christian faith, I had some time where I just got so angry at God, stopped praying, and everything.
You can’t live well, and carry around such a heavy heart, so release the burdens of your anger, bitterness, and guilt. It gets you nowhere, just cripples you, and your child would not want you to feel that way. This may take a lot of time, but it’s very important.
11) Join support groups, and/or message boards where you will find others who are going through the same thing. I know when horrible things like this happen, we tend to feel like we are the only one’s in the world going through this, but in all honesty, there are millions out there just like us, feeling the exact same pain, and going through the exact same emotions, so to be able to reach out to others, and vise-versa, as providing help and comfort to others, is always beneficial to your own self esteem, is a huge, huge, advantage we have nowadays that others did not have, before the days of the world wide web. Use it to your advantage, and go through your pain with people who do truly ‘get it’, and understand.
It’s going to be a long, long process, that may seem endless, and even impossible at times, but you will see the sun again, even if it’s never going to shine quite as brightly, it will shine, you will see. Don’t shut out help, don’t beat yourself up with guilt, do feel your pain, do mourn, and then celebrate your lost loved one, do reach out to others, do get your feelings down in ink, do seek professional help if you just do not think you can handle it, and all else has failed you. There is zero shame in it. We all need help at some points in our lives, the question is just when? And will we accept it?
There is no greater pain, but there is also nothing else in the world, that will ever make you stronger. Know if you can get through this, you can get through absolutely anything, you are a true warrior, and if you ever need a friend to confide in, and feel like you just don’t have that anywhere else in life…well, I am right here for you!!
Thanks for reading. My heart goes out to everyone that’s eyes scan these words I have written, and I pray for you all, for peace, and for healing! Things will get better.
* (There are a couple neat pictures, I want to share, but they are not on this computer. When I find them I will add them here.) *