Bereaved Parents, helping bereaved parents

Bereaved Parents

Peggy Sweeney
The Sweeney Alliance

Peggy Cox black 115X160The death of a child, regardless of their age or the cause of their death, is the most traumatic grief experience. It is very difficult and will take many years for the parents to be able to cope with the overwhelming pain and the sorrow they feel. They must eventually learn to survive in a world without their child. Family and friends who have not had a similar experience do not understand the day-to-day struggles or the unique grief that accompanies the death of a child.

As days turn into weeks, bereaved parents may feel as if their friends and family members have lost interest in their grief. They may suggest or even demand that you get over your grief and get on with life. In reality, you will never get over your grief but you can learn to weave it into your daily life. What was normal for you before your child’s death is not normal now. Your life will never be as it was. It will take many, many months or years before you will want to reinvest in life and living. You may feel anger, guilt, intense sorrow, hopelessness, and loneliness; similar to a deep void inside your very being. A void you fear will never go away. Thoughts of suicide are commonplace. Your world has been turned upside-down. During the early months of your grief every minute of every day is a struggle. You are not going crazy. You are grieving the death of your child. Continue reading “Bereaved Parents”

Bereaved Parents, helping bereaved parents

Speaking of the Unspeakable

by Melissa Dalton-Bradford
Familius Publishing

Melissa Dalton-Bradford
Melissa Dalton-Bradford

Early October. Two months and two weeks after burying Parker. The shock of major loss has crash-landed our family on an island of pain. We’ve also literally landed in a foreign country: just days after the funeral, we’ve moved with our three surviving children, catatonic with grief, to Germany. We’re doubly shipwrecked.

And still we’ve had no word from Grandma and Grandpa.

No phone calls. No emails. No messages in a bottle. Nothing.

I need my parents now more than ever. But do I call them?


Why not?

Because I’m overwhelmed with sadness. I’m soaked through with our three children’s sadness and with my husband’s sadness, which sad saturation is compounded by the demands of an international move managed under extreme physical and psychological impairment. The vacuum of no familiar anything or anyone is gaining suction with each day that passes. Continue reading “Speaking of the Unspeakable”

Bereaved Parents, helping bereaved parents

Writing To Your Child

by Sandy Fox

Sandy Fox_1One day sit down and write a letter to your child. Pour out your feelings: the love you will always feel for them, how your heart is broken, any guilt, any anger, remembrances of good times together or anything else that comes to mind.

There are some things you can then do with that letter. You can keep it to yourself and never show it to anyone. You can share it with others in the hopes they begin to understand you are getting better. Or you can throw it in the trash, feeling all the better for having written your feelings down and reading them to yourself.

Writing is good therapy. When I look at my first book I wrote, which details my daughter’s life, I am simply amazed at the details I remembered then that I would never remember now if I had to do it all again. When I finished writing it originally, I felt good. I knew I had written the facts, the emotions and how I survived the tragedy. It was very cathartic.

Now, when I am angry at someone or something that happened, I sit down and write about it. I did that when I wrote the blog on people who say things that are hurtful to a parent who has lost a child. Whether it is a cruel statement like, “God had better plans for your child” or asking “Why didn’t you have more children to replace the one you lost,” I got to say how I felt, and again, it was cathartic.

Ideas for you to write on paper to your child are:

  • …What I wish I had said to you
  • …What I wish I hadn’t said to you
  • …What I wish I had done
  • …What I wish I had not done
  • …What I wish you would have done
  • …What I wish you had not done
  • …What I wish I could ask you.
  • …What I would like to tell you
  • …What it’s been like without you

And lastly, how much I miss you and will always keep you in my heart and mind.

You will see, your day will become less burdensome when you get your thoughts on paper and you will feel a weight lift from your heart.

About the Author: Sandy is the author of two books on surviving grief and moving on with your life: “Creating a New Normal…After the Death of a Child” and “I Have No Intention of Saying Good-bye.” She is also a contributing writer for the “Open to Hope” book, Gloria Gaynor’s new book, “I Will Survive” and writes for many online newsletters to help others on their grief journey.

Other articles by Sandy:
Confronting Negative Statements
Commonalities Between Bereaved Parents

Finding Help for Bereaved Parents

Happy New Year!
Keeping Memories Alive After Losing a Child

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Bereaved Parents, helping bereaved parents

Confronting Negative Statements

by Sandy Fox

At a recent dinner, I sat next to a woman who knew Marcy, my daughter, through others. We were never very friendly, although I’ve known her for many years. She turned to me and said, “You know, it is very sad that Marcy died, but you should have had more children. Then it wouldn’t have been so tragic for you. You would have at least had other children in your life.”

I was stunned that anyone would say that to a bereaved mother, no matter how long ago the child had died. Was she trying to comfort me? Did she think she was showing me she cared about me? I felt insulted. I wanted to say, “You stupid person. You have obviously never had a child die nor know anything about it.”

But I kept my voice calm and said, “Another child doesn’t replace the one you lost, nor does another child even ease the pain of the loss. Each child is a separate individual, loved unconditionally.” And besides, I thought to myself, I could never bear the thought of ever going through this again with another child, although there are many parents who have lost more than one child and survived.

I explained to this woman that I did try to have more than one child. I lost one in a miscarriage and was told not to get pregnant again due to health reasons. “Oh,” was all she said.

As I looked at this woman who just turned to talk to someone else, I could see she never for one minute thought she had said anything offensive. Thinking about it, she probably voiced what others only think but never say.

When I told this story at a bereavement meeting recently, most rolled their eyes, shook their heads, and look disgusted. Then a few began telling me their own stories, some very similar to mine. One bereaved mother after a year of grieving went out to lunch with some friends. She related that one of her friends said, “We assume you are all better now; it’s been a year, so why don’t you try to have more children. At least then our children will be close in age and grow up together.” Angered, the mother told this so-called friend that she did not manufacture children at a moment’s notice; she was not over the loss; and it was really none of her business.

And still another mother at the meeting related how, at a wedding, an old friend said, “Why so sad looking?” She said she had just been thinking of her son and how much he would have liked to have been there. The response was: “Oh, get over it. It’s been long enough. Time to move on.” The bereaved mother said simply and calmly, “I am trying to move on, but it’s difficult at times.” She then turned around and left the party. “I cried all the way home,” said the mother.

One person who read this article on my blog, Kathy, said, “Sometimes people just don’t know what to say and so they try to say something they think will be comforting and unfortunately, often times, it is not comforting at all but very hurtful. It takes experiencing their own loss to possibly begin to understand this.”

“There are other times, she continued, that people just really aren’t sensitive at all. Like the wedding example, she was having fun and had no presence of mind to realize that someone who lost a child might still be grieving at an occasion like that. I think people forget that when we have lost a child, it is always present in our minds and some of the simplest daily experiences bring sad reminders that they are gone. Also, for some, they don’t want to dredge up your grief feelings so they try to avoid it by being all bubbly and happy around you…as if that will help. Let’s face it…they know that at a moment’s notice it could be them and they don’t want to face that!”

Finally, another mother thinks it’s horrifying how unbelievably stupid and selfish some people are. “I’ve been asked more than once if we are having more children. Even my husband contemplated it in a moment of irrational grief, but at least he had the excuse of desperately needing his little boy back. I just can’t fathom how people regurgitate at others without actually examining what they are saying beforehand. I’ve decided that next time anyone probes my reproductive life, I’ll just say, ‘My tubes are tied’ and leave it at that.”

The grief journey is hard enough without others attempting to tell us how to live our lives. They have no idea what it is like to lose a child and I, personally, hope they never have to be in that situation.

I wish there was a set of rules to educate people as to how to act, react, what to say, and particularly what not to say to a bereaved parent. It would make our journey a little less stressful.

About the Author: Sandy Fox is an award-winning author of two books on surviving grief. Her latest is Creating a New Normal…After the Death of a Child. In it are 80 articles on a variety of coping and informational topics that bereaved parents must deal with, and the rest of the book is 10 individual inspirational stories and a huge resource section. The above article is an abstract of a much longer and more in-depth article in her this book.

Her first book, I Have No Intention of Saying Good-bye, tells the stories of 25 sets of parents and how they moved on with their lives while always remembering their children. Each Sunday, Sandy writes a blog. If you go to her Surviving Grief blog you can read a variety of subjects dealing with a child’s death. Sandy also writes for Open to Hope, has articles in their recently published book, and does Ezine articles online on the same topic.

Sandy’s previous essays on this site: Commonalities Between Bereaved Parents and Finding Help for Bereaved Parents

This is a wonderful list of things to share with those who do not understand the grief of a bereaved parent: What Do You Say to a Bereaved Parent 

helping bereaved parents

Finding Help for Bereaved Parents

by Sandy Fox

Sandy Fox

After a child dies, bereaved parents may not know where to turn for help. In this computer age, the many resources are not hard to find. Three main national support groups: The Compassionate Friends, Bereaved Parents USA and Alive Alone can lead you to many other specific groups. If you find it difficult to get out or want the privacy to deal with your grief in your own way, web site groups allow parents to sit in their homes and be part of an online group or chat room. Whether you choose to join a group and be active outside the home or interact with the web from home, someone will be there to offer comfort and a friendly hand.

Below are a few specific groups you can contact, besides the three main ones, and online resources you can delve into. Continue reading “Finding Help for Bereaved Parents”

Bereaved Parents, helping bereaved parents

Grieving Parent Concerns

by Annell Decker, LPC

Annell Decker, LPC

During years of working as a counselor and not long ago as a joint facilitator of a children’s grief group, some specific concerns stand out. Here are some ideas to consider, some about dealing with other children.

How long is it OK to grieve? As long as you need; whatever is right for you as an individual. The responses of others will change and you may get more positive response from a professional after several months. Often, this is because people just don’t know what to say.

Belongings and “Shrines” – It is not unusual to set up an area of the house, or a whole room, with the deceased person’s belongings. Or, the person’s belongings are gathered and there is a strong urge to not allow others to touch them. In order to include relatives and close friends, they may need something specific to hold onto, just as you do. Try to be generous and patient. This in no way diminishes your grief. Please allow those who loved the person that died to touch and reminisce, sharing their memories. This is an important part of healing. If the “shrine” is up after an extended amount of time, please consult with family and a therapist about healthy ways to move on, incorporating the change of dynamics.

Continue reading “Grieving Parent Concerns”