|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
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
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
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.
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.
Designed for heavenbound by andrea