The death of a child, no matter their age, can be devastating. There are many causes that lead to the death of a younger or older child, which will impact how you grieve. Society will also play a big role in your support and grief. Some will say very well intended but insensitive things, while others may avoid you because of their discomfort. As a result of our culture’s discomfort with grief, especially the death of children, the loss of a child may be best supported with other people who have lost children and understand what you are experiencing. Consider seeking out those who understand.
Here are some things to consider:
Find other grieving parents – There is nothing like talking to people who understand. Their story and circumstances may be very different from yours, but they “get it” in ways unique from others. These are also folks who can help you troubleshoot challenges and learn how to cope with this experience.
Anticipate what people will say – There are many painful clichés around child loss. Because people don’t know what to say they tend to rely on clichés. You may find some of these things hurtful. You may have even said them in the past before this experience. It is okay to avoid situations where these things might be said, and it is okay to practice your response for when they are said.
Anticipate what you’ll say – How many kids do you have? is a common question that many bereaved parents struggle with. Do you include the child who died? Will your response scare the person who asked? How you answer the question is completely up to you. There is no right or wrong response and your response might be different depending on who asks and when they ask. There are many questions and comments like this. Anticipating what you’ll say may make these encounters more manageable.
Exercise – Grief is not just an emotion. It comes with fatigue and other ailments. Exercise is a healthy coping strategy if you’re able to do so.
Find ways to honor – Many parents say and research confirms, that if you can find ways to honor your child’s life and do good in his/her memory it helps manage the grief and isolation. Do this in your own time.