Losing a Child
The death and loss of a child are frequently called the ultimate tragedy. Nothing can be more devastating.
Along with the usual symptoms and stages of grief, many issues make parental bereavement particularly difficult to resolve. And this grief over the loss of a child can be exacerbated and complicated by feelings of injustice — the understandable feeling that this loss should never have happened.
During the early days of grieving, most parents experience excruciating pain, alternating with numbness — a dichotomy that may persist for months or longer. Many parents who have lost their son or daughter report feeling they can only “exist,” and every motion or need beyond that seems nearly impossible. It has been said that coping with the death and loss of a child requires some of the most challenging work one will ever have to do.
I liken grief to Melbourne weather – providing the unpredictability of grief and how to ride through it all, without feeling like people are going insane. Couples and families all grieve differently, and this can create tension and disconnection or the coming together of couples and families.
It is imperative that a couple who have lost a baby or child seek support in navigating the grief journey together, to allow for communication, acceptance of grief styles and ways of coping and how to come together to allow the grief to occur.
It is also imperative that the wider family is shown how to support during the grieving period of losing a child or baby, such as using the baby or child’s name, recalling and voicing memories, allowing the person, couple of family to grieve in the way that feels right for them.
Research shows that the risk of complicated grief in couples and families who lose a baby or child are high and therefore accessing therapeutic support is vital to the mental health of the individual, couple, and family functioning.
Grief lasts a lifetime but it’s how it is integrated into one’s life as to how much it affects the mental health of the person. Therapeutic support is impetrative in the grieving process which could be the first year, the second of the tenth year of grieving that baby or child’s death.
This article contains original content from senior therapist Jane Davidson