All loss is traumatic, but losing a child can cause almost unbearable pain. If you’ve experienced the devastating loss of a child, you may experience shock, confusion, guilt, hopelessness, anger and a host of other emotions. You may even find your marriage under stress, as you and your spouse try to handle these difficult emotions. Navigating such a tragedy is enormously difficult, but there are a few things you can try:
- Be gentle with yourself and your spouse. You’re both feeling a rash of emotions, but they are not necessarily the same. Try to be aware of each other’s needs, avoiding blame and expectations about how your spouse should be reacting, and give each other the space you need to heal. Think of how you’d treat a friend or acquaintance dealing with pain, and treat yourself and your spouse accordingly.
- Don’t expect to “get over it” quickly. There’s no time limit on grief, and everyone heals at a different Healing is a process, and you have to experience your feelings in order to work through them.
- Don’t make any rash decisions or major changes. Grief can cloud judgment, so it’s better to wait a while before making any big changes.
- Do rely on friends and family members. When people ask how they can help, be prepared to give them something to do. Ask them to bring a meal or watch your other kids, or just meet for a cup of coffee. Ask for what you need and what you want, because people want to be able to help.
- Do take care of yourself. As parents, we tend to put other people’s needs ahead of our own. Make sure you’re getting enough rest, eating a healthy diet and taking time for yourself. You may find it helpful to keep a journal or take long walks. If you need to seek therapy, do so — whatever it takes to adjust to your new normal.
- If you have other children, understand that they’re grieving, too. Grieving the loss of a sibling is complicated and can affect a child’s health, behavior, schoolwork, self-esteem and Children may have guilt over negative interactions with a lost sibling or may be fearful or anxious. Talk to your children about how you’re feeling, and encourage them to share as well. Find ways to engage them in activities that honor the sibling who has died while letting them know that you are there to support them and help them heal.
- Consider a support group. If you have a strong social network or a close-knit family, that’s wonderful. However, it can also be very helpful to speak to people who have experienced similar pain. In a setting where you can express yourself freely, you may learn new ways to cope.
- Don’t try to forget. Instead, try to remember the happy times and honor the memory of your child. Talk about your child, volunteer with other children, keep a scrapbook or plant a tree — anything that helps you remember and honor your child can be helpful.
At Chapel of the Chimes Hayward, we are committed to helping families plan meaningful memorials that help put them on the path to healing. We’ve served East Bay-area families since 1872, and our full-service facility offers the one-stop convenience of an expansive funeral home, cemetery and on-site crematory. Call (510) 400-8316 today to learn how we can help, or come by for a tour of our facilities and beautiful grounds.