Two articles that caught my attention recently are listed below. My hope is that you will be helped by the insights shared here.
From the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 12/2015
No parent is prepared for a child's death. Parents are simply not supposed to outlive their children. It is important to remember that how long your child lived does not determine the size of your loss. The loss of a child is profound at every age.
- Parents of young children are intimately involved in their daily lives. Death changes every aspect of family life, often leaving an enormous emptiness.
- The death of an older child or adolescent is difficult because children at this age are beginning to reach their potential and become independent individuals.
- When an adult child dies, you lose not only a child but often a close friend, a link to grandchildren, and an irreplaceable source of emotional and practical support.
You may find that you also grieve for the hopes and dreams you had for your child, the potential that will never be realized, and the experiences you will never share. If you lost your only child, you may also feel that you have lost your identity as a parent and perhaps the possibility of grandchildren. The pain of these losses will always be a part of you. Yet with time, most parents find a way forward and begin to experience happiness and meaning in life once again.
Margo F. Weiss, PHD wrote the following:
The loss of a child is the most devastating experience a parent can face-and missing the child never goes away. A piece of yourself is lost and your future is forever changed.
The age of the child at the time of death does not lessen the hurt or devastation. It feels completely unnatural for a child to die before his or her parents.
- Miscarriage affects about 25% of women who become pregnant during their lifetime. The experience of pregnancy loss can be devastating to couples, yet the majority of women who miscarry become pregnant again soon after the loss. This can become emotionally and physically challenging for the couple. They are often plagued with concerns about the possibility of another miscarriage and whether they made an appropriate decision to conceive again.
- Stillbirths, occurring in about 1% of pregnancies, can leave a feeling of disorientation, yearning and despair. Hospitals will give parents the option of spending time with the baby to say goodbye, and many parents have said that seeing their child was important for their grief process and enabled them to see the baby as a part of themselves. Another form of infant loss is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) - the most frequent cause of death in children under one year of age - that creates a profound void and sense of loss in the family.
- Approximately 2,000 children are reported missing every day, and these kidnappings and cases of missing children cause parents almost unbearable pain. Not knowing whether a child is dead or alive results in confusion, fright and anxiety. When the bodies of kidnapped children are found, parents may express saddened relief that their children can now have a proper burial and healing can finally begin.
- The parents of murder victims face many unique struggles in their process of bereavement. A sense of loss of control is common, and the suddenness of the death is so overwhelming that, for a period of time, parents are often incapable of processing through the grief. For this group, dealing with spiritual beliefs, attitudes toward life, and general physical health may hold special importance.
- Each day, 46 children are diagnosed with cancer in the U.S., and 35% of those will die. Cancer remains the number one disease killer of children. The anguish and extreme pain parents experience begins with diagnosis. One part of the parents' heart hopes for a cure, while the other part begins the quiet process of impending grief