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Coping with the death of a child

Coping with the death of a child
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The death of a child is every parent’s worst nightmare. While it’s expected that you’ll lose your parents at some point and perhaps your partner or some of your friends will pass away before you, a parent losing a child seems to go against the natural order of things.

Following the death of a child, you may feel like you’ll never be able to come to terms with what has happened. Coping with a child’s passing is always going to be difficult but what’s important is to understand that what you are feeling and going through is completely natural.

Shock

Even if it has been expected through illness, the death of a child can come as a heart-wrenching shock. You will probably experience feelings of disbelief and confusion and the event will take its toll on your body as well as your emotional wellbeing. It’s not uncommon to be unable to sleep or eat – or indeed to do nothing but sleep and eat – and your body will be reeling from the shock of what has happened. You may be prescribed medication to help and it’s important to avoid using drink and drugs to try and block out the pain. Regular exercise and a healthy diet are the best ways to help your body recover.

Guilt

When a child dies the parents may often experience feelings of guilt: that they should have done more to protect their offspring or even that they shouldn’t have outlived their child. There may be regret about an argument or the feeling that if only something had been said or done in a different way, the child might still be here. It’s important to discuss these feelings with someone who understands you. Only once you’ve sorted through your insecurities can you begin to forgive yourself or, more likely, realise that you were in no way to blame for what happened.

Anger

Coping with the death of a childWhether directed at God, a person/situation that contributed to the cause of death, the child herself or even just the world at large, anger is a common emotion during the grieving process. Frustration may be vented on the rest of the family, which can lead to break ups, tension and resentment. Be aware that everyone grieves differently and try to give your partner and surviving children the time and space to grieve in their own way, without judgement. Not all anger manifests itself negatively – many bereaved parents direct their feelings towards making sure other families don’t go through the same ordeal through fundraising or campaigning for a change in the law.

Communicate

Talk to people who understand what you’re going through. The death of a child is very different to that of another family member. Not only have you lost someone you love dearly, but you have been robbed of the chance to create memories together and get to know the person she would have grown into. Don’t be afraid to talk about your child with people who knew her and strangers alike. Just because they’re gone doesn’t mean you love them any less or that they aren’t still an important part of your life.

There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to deal with grief. Everyone is different and copes in their own unique way.

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About Maria Brett

About Maria Brett

Maria is a freelance writer with over 10 years' experience producing content for a variety of publications and websites. When not working or looking after her two gorgeous sons, she can usually be found playing flugelhorn in a brass band, helping out at her local hospital radio station, shouting at the television while watching Formula 1, at the cinema or plonked on the couch with a cold glass of wine.

Website: Maria Brett

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