Make your own free website on Tripod.com
PARENTS AND THE GRIEVING PROCESS

 

Grief is an intense, lonely, and personal experience. Everyone learns about grief and grieving in the course of natural separation that occurs during infancy and childhood and through their encounters with the deaths of loved ones. The death of an elderly loved one is mourned, but is usually expected. The death of a child, however, especially the death of an apparently healthy child, is an unexpected event. When a child dies, not only does it destroy the dreams and hopes of the parents, but it also forces all family members to face an event for which they are unprepared. Most parents who experience the death of a child decribe the pain that follows as the most intense they have ever experienced. Many parents wonder if they will be able to tolerate the pain, to survive it, and to be able to feel that life has meaning again.

The intense pain that parents experiece when their child dies may be eased somewhat if they have insight into what has helped other parents overcome a similar grief. For example, one of the most important things parents to realize is that recovery from the loss of a child takes time. Each person will have to establish his or her own method of recovery. There is no right or wrong way to grieve, but there is a pattern to the resolution of grief, and there is help available to family members. It is crucial that parents realize that they are not alone and that others have experienced such grief and have survived.

Often the first reaction of a parent after the death of a child is of shock, disbelief, denial, or numbness. These reactions are instinctive and soften the impact of the death until the parent is better prepared to face the reality and the finality of the child's death. These reactions, as normal as they are, can be deceptive to others who are unacquainted with the grieving process. They may incorrectly assume that the parent either is strong and holding up well, or is insensitive and incapable of expressing his or her feelings about the loss. What they fail to realize is that shock, disbelief, denial, and numbness allow the parents to begin to face the tragic occurrence without losing control. All of these reactions are natures way of helping the parents confront the death of the child. These reactions may last minutes, hours, days, weeks, and sometimes years. The parent will determine subconsciously when he or she is better able to face the death. Crying, or some similar emotional release, usually marks the end of this initial period of grief.

When the childs death becomes a reality to the family, intense suffering and pain usually begin. During the weeks and months that follow, many parents say that they are frightened by the intensity and the variety of the feelings that they experiece. Crying, weeping, and incessant talking are all normal reactions. The parent may find that he or she feels very alone. Parents may express their greif differently and may have difficulty sharing there feelings. Relatives and friends may be uncomfortable with the actuality of death, may be busy with their own lives, or may be unable to meet the parents needs for comfort and support. For some parents, help may be obtained from the clergy, physician, councelors, other bereaved parents, or willing friends and relatives. It is important to remember, however, that no one can resolve the parents grief but the parents themselves. Resolution can be achieved only by experiencing and working through these emotions.

It is important for the parents to allow themselves full expression of the emotions they feel. It is vital that emotions not be held in for a "correct time". It is necessary for parents to express their emotions, though not necessary in words, to gain a resolution to their childs death. Emotions that parents may experienceinclude: anger, guilt, fear, and depression.

Resolution and Recovery

As the finality of the childs death becomes a reality for the parents, recovery occurs. Parents begin to take an active part in life and their lives begin to have meaning once more. The pain of their childs death becomes less intense but not forgotten. Birthdays, holidays, and the anniversary of the childs death can trigger periods of intense pain and suffering. As time passes, the painful days become less frequent. There is no set time in which recovery takes place after a child dies. The only comforting thought that one can give a parent is that it does occur, the process is slow, but it will happen. Parents need to be patient and loving with themselves, their spouses, and their families.


"NO MATTER HOW DEEP THE SORROW, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. OTHERS HAVE BEEN THERE AND WILL HELP SHARE YOUR LOAD IF YOU WILL LET THEM. DO NOT DENY THEM THE OPPORTUNITY."


National Sids Clearinghouse.

 

CHILDREN NEED TO KNOW THE TRUTH

Children also have questions like...What happened?...Where did the baby go?...Was it my fault?...Will I die too?

Dont tell the children that the baby...went to sleep or went away on a long trip. Then your children may be affraid to sleep, or to go away from home. They might get scarey thoughts and think they will die too. Tell your children that the baby died of something that usually only happens to babies, and that it wasn't their fault.

HELP YOUR CHILDREN KNOW THE TRUTH SO THEY WONT BE SO AFRAID.

 

back home SIDS Memorials SIDS support list

 

Designed for heavenbound by andrea