Coping with the loss of a child. There are a number of phrases that people find handy when trying to comfort parents who have lost their children. For instance, They are in a better place now, or there is a reason for everything. This is due to the weirdness of handling the feelings brought about by death. You are never sure of what to say, or can’t tell whether what you say will spark emotions from the bereaved.
In some cases. People even tend to give you some form of distance, like you were an alien. Well, it is understandable owing to the nature of death and the fact that each one of us handles the grieving situation differently.
No matter how old the child is aged at the time of death, be it infant or teenage or even old age, that they die before their parent is a pain that we carry for a lifetime. According to a statistics in the United States, more than 57000 children under the age of 19 years die each year – a shocking revelation if you may. This just tells you the massive number of parents who might need help in recovering from the loss of a child.
Loss of a loved one is painful, but it is worse for parents who have lost a child, as this makes them feel less worthy and terrible failures in protecting their children as is their obligation. It is purely a permanent scar that is not easy to nurse. You will be left with the difficulty of facing the development miles that they would have otherwise achieved at a particular stage owing to their exposure to the rest of the society.
It is also important to note that a number of factors affect the way people grieve for the loss of a child,
• Their religious beliefs.
• Their culture.
• The history of the family.
• The cause of death.
• The age of the child at the time of death.
The cause of death is the biggest moderator on how people grieve following the loss of a child. The most known causes for new-borns include miscarriage and stillbirths. People anticipate the coming of a new baby with such zeal that not being able to get to hold them or have them occupy their rooms brings such disappointment not easy to go through.
Some other causes not easy to talk about could be motor vehicle accidents, sickness, suicide, murder, or a child who goes missing not to be seen ever again.
Not only will a parent feel the pain of not seeing their child realize their future, they will also be hard on themselves for not being able to prevent certain things from taking place. They will always feel like they needed to do a little more or just be there to avoid the death of their child
Do you know what parents who have lost their children go through?
To be able to help, it is important that you understand the effects of grief to be able to help anyone who is grieving. People experience a wave of things, both emotional and physical, all which should be equally taken care of to enable one heal well.
The varying emotions that losing a child brings to a parent.
The loss of a child is devastating due to the loss of their futures and potentials as well. The feelings that come with it can’t be locked out. Many a times, you might feel that you have moved on but then encounter situations that leave you wallowing in pain. This is understandable, now that it is an occurrence that is here to stay. Below are the common emotions a grieving parent is likely to experience.
• Denial- one will not be willing to accept that their child is no more, at least we still hold on to hope, thinking it is a mere dream, and we shall wake up to a reality with them by our sides. Who expects a child to die before accomplishing the major stages of life, education, work, and marriage? It is for this reason that the death of a child is re than traumatizing. Knowing them helps one assist the grieving parent whenever any of them is displayed.
• Guilt- it is the fundamental duty of every parent to guide and protect their kid. The death of a child goes against this believe and leaves parents feeling helpless and less worthy. The feeling that we should have died instead and let the kids leave come by as a result of parents feeling that they have accomplished and so their kids should have been given equal chances or even better, to do the same.
• Anger- this ager is usually expressed towards death, it takes the people dear to us without giving us a chance to fight back. We feel angry at the whole process of life, that one day we all die, and that there is nothing we can do when that time comes, while wondering why it had to be so early for the deceased child.
• Pain- yes, loss of a child brings innate pain. Sometimes this pain causes even headaches, fatigue or even joint pains. A number of people have had to be given drugs to suppress the pain of losing a loved one, much as it is not the best option.
The physical effects of losing a child
• Irritability, restlessness or nervousness- anything slight is likely to cause a range of emotions following the loss of a child. Falling asleep might also be experienced. Sometimes you can even find a person subconsciously pacing up and down. All these emotional imbalance come as a result of the shock caused by the death of a child.
• Inability to concentrate or make important decisions- the brain of such a person is occupied with thoughts of how the future would be or of the memories they have with the deceased child. Driving may become an issue and make proper decisions a challenge.
Such people need lots of emotional support to be able to come back to their old selves again. They might need assistance with things like selecting an appropriate funeral or memorial poem and organizing the funeral or memorial service.
• Loss of appetite- parents who have lost their children experience difficulty in eating, and if they do, not the required proportions. This may be as a result of losing hope in life and its processes, thereby finding it difficult to continue with one’s daily routines.
• Fatigue- can be caused by lack of enough sleep or simply oversleeping as a way of doing away with an individual’s sorrow. The brain also tends to think a lot during this period resultantly causing energy drainage. Another contributing factor could be lots of movements in attempts to make burial arrangements or not eating portions and types of food required to sustain the body’s activities, especially during such a needy situation.
• Digestive problems- scientists have proven beyond doubt that not eating properly and drinking water causes issues like bloating, excess acidity in the stomach, or constipation, which are commonly experienced during mourning, as a result of interfering with one’s feeding routines. Other people may also experience nausea or vomit, as a natural way of the body’s response to the news of losing a child.
• Losing weight or adding too much weight- while other people respond to stressful conditions like these ones by not eating properly thereby making their physical bodies deteriorate, others simply manage it by constantly eating to preoccupy their brains leading to excessive weight gain. A considerable number go the ‘not eating’ way.
Listed below are some helpful tips on how to help parents recovering from the loss of a child
Talking to them
It is common to have people keep off the bereaved parents, but not the right thing to do. Be there for this people, always doing regular check-ups or visiting them. Leaving them alone can lead to depression. Gaining their trust through your continued support makes them feel free to confide in you and share how they feel.
However, don’t rush someone into talking out.
Give them time and let them talk when they are ready. You should be ready with the appropriate words of response, not too offensive or emotional to make them feel like they are unfortunate owing to the passing on of their children. Instead, focus on positive encouragements.
You can enlist the help of bereavement poems that we have here at the holy bookshop, which will be helpful in comforting their loss.
Going down the memory lane
Sounds sensitive, right? Well, this can b therapeutic if well done. You can share beautiful memories about the deceased child. Talking with ease about the nice things to do with their children enables people gently come to terms with the reality surrounding the death of a child as opposed to being quiet.
People have the tendency of avoiding mentioning names or things to do with the dead, but doing this is recommended should you wish for the bereaved to start healing.
Ways of keeping the child’s memory
Based on what the parents find easy, you can come up with suggestions that will ensure the kid’s memory lives on within the society. This gives the feeling of people who still care despite a parent losing a child. It brings the notion that everyone who was affiliated to the deceased has been equally affected. A child is important to the community at large, so their death is a blow to the rest of us.
Well, you can select a beautiful memorial poem from the Holy Bookshop, frame it up, or add some tunes to make it a song. This can be used during each memorial service or just a keepsake for remembering the deceased child.
Some people go about this by setting up memorial funds or trust funds, sponsoring the needy children, or perhaps some form of community activity like cleaning up the streets at a particular time of the year to commemorate their memory.
Helping with the daily chores
It goes without saying that death causes such grief, sometimes grieving parents lack the energy or motivation to conduct their daily routine activities in the house like cleaning, or cooking. Be there to help with these.
Go the extra miles and encourage them to eat, sleep, shower, and take personal care to avoid further effects of grieving.
Making the death of children public
Not many people find it easy, but coming to think of it, this serves to prevent the awkwardness of having to answer weird questions on assumptions that the child is alive and probably growing as expected, especially where the child is on infant stage. Tell them not to assume this just because it is a child, for the effects of failing to do so might just interfere with one’s healing process later on.
You can even offer to do this on their behalf, just ensure you get accurate information on the deceased child, then proceed to get avenues where it would be most appropriate to publish the notice, be it newspapers, online obituary sites or trade and society publications.
Joining support groups
Support groups have proven to be helpful when people need help on certain issues. Herein, you get to know how people cope with an issue similar to yours thereby encouraging you to manage your own situation. Encourage mourning parents that it ain’t wrong to talk to others in the same ordeal. What’s more, this motivates them based on the fact that they get to learn they are not the only ones faced with this ordeal.
When the death of a child occurs in a family, people react differently. Some parents find this unbearable and completely appear unable to go past this. Professional counsellors can also help. Encourage mourning parents to enrol for counselling sessions. They will be handled by experts to enable them to recover from the shock of losing a child.
They can also be advised following the below tips.