Bereaved Parents, no surviving children

How I Survived

by Liz Anderson
Jeff’s Mom

Jeff's picturesWe moved from place to place—for me it was trying to run away from the pain but I found out I only took it with me.

Six months after his death, Ron (step-dad) took me fishing. I had a fish on the line and my grief was gone for that split second. Then it went back to 24/7. I wanted that feeling again to be free of grief/pain.

We went to Compassionate Friends (TCF) meetings but I still felt so alone in my grief. Others talked about their other kids/grandkids etc. and I only felt worse since we had no future at all.

While going to TCF meetings, I felt a need to “help” them by making sandwiches, cookies and coffee, etc. since the meetings were after people got off work. I wanted to “take care” of them and did so for some time.

My husband took me to the meetings but it was not the same as other’s who had the child’s dad with them. Some of the dads were trying to support their wives but how could they, when they both are so broken?

Some mothers have stepdads who supported the mom’s and still do to this day. Ron told me one day that he “knows how I feel” and I BLASTED him, telling him never to say that again. He has three LIVE kids who have nothing to do with him. He has not a CLUE of what I go through.

You think of who can you leave your personal things too, who is going to take care of you when you are older. The answer will come when the time is right; I just put it out of my mind for now. Take one thing at a time.

I am not the same person that I was before Jeff died. People have to understand that. Maybe. I say I have “adjusted” to what has happened. All I know is that when I am helping others, I am helping myself.

That is why the MEMORIES group got started. It was a meeting place for people who have lost their only or all children. None of us have surviving children. Belinda Chandler has taken over the group and the newsletter which I did it for 19 years.

I wish you peace. Take it slowly. It may take a lifetime.

One of Liz’s many memories of Jeff…
It was the first Easter after my dad died in 1972 and my mother had everyone come to Easter dinner. Jeff said he had a toothache and didn’t really want to go! But we did. Uncle Joe and his wife from Switzerland (my folks were both from Switzerland) were there. He used to come and help out at the farm when needed, but on this day he was all dressed up for Easter.

There were 13 grandkids and parents there for dinner. Uncle Joe asked Jeff to go with him to the orchard to check on the cow with a calf. Jeff told him that you have to be careful since you are not in your regular cloths. Jeff told him this might make a difference.

The cow went after Joe and mauled him and pinned him under an apple tree. Jeff had presence of mind to chase the calf away so the cow would follow. Then Jeff ran back up to the farm house and told everyone that Uncle Joe had gotten kicked by a cow and he needed help. He didn’t want to upset Joe’s wife who didn’t understand much English so he said he was kicked instead of mauled! Jeff then went to open a gate and held back all 44 other cows so my brother and brother-in-law could take a car down to the orchard and take him to the hospital. We found out Joe had several broken ribs and a punctured lung.

After everyone returned from the hospital, we had Easter dinner. The ONLY one who mentioned to Jeff that his actions were heroic was my brother-in-law who was a dentist. Jeff told him, “Oh, I thought you were going to pull my tooth!” Uncle Joe lived to be 103 thanks to Jeff!

When Jeff was born on May 6, 1962, he weighed 9 pounds 13oz. He grew into a very handsome boy!!! He went to school and was into logging on weekends and got a taste of big $$. At age 18, someone talked him into going to Texas to work. He and another boy headed to Texas and didn’t even get out of our county before they hit the ditch! He was showing the other boy how the tilt steering wheel worked and it came OFF! Jeff died on March 26, 1983.

You may contact Liz Anderson through her email

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Bereaved Parents, no surviving children

Concerns of the Now Childless

by Ray and Penny Young
Parents of Matthew Young
May 4, 1975 – September 14, 1994

While each person/couple must determine what will work for them in their grief work, it sometimes helps to hear what others have done or are doing in this arduous journey. And it is always good to remember that people grieve differently. If it works for you—and no one else—that’s okay. The goal is to make the journey, survive, and learn to live and thrive again in the new normal. While it would be impossible to cover all the issues facing the now childless parents in this brief article, we would like to touch on a few that were discussed at the recent conference.

Am I still a parent? The problem here is that your parental role has been cruelly jerked out of your hands. There is nothing left to do for or with your child. Yet, your heart cannot accept this change. The good news is – it doesn’t have to because you are, of course, still a parent. You will always be a parent to your child. You simply do not have him/her physically present with you any longer. This will make you falter when others ask, “Do you have children?” We struggled with that question once upon a time ourselves. We have learned to answer, “Yes, our son now lives in heaven.” Or to simply say, “Yes, but none still living.” Continue reading “Concerns of the Now Childless”

Bereaved Parents, no surviving children, suicide

A Parent’s Grief, Disbelief, Readjustment, and Discovery (suicide of an only child)

by Carolyn C. Zahnow
July 2012

My only child died by suicide in 2005. That sentence alone is enough to make me, as well as you the reader, stop in their tracks. Yet I have learned how to cope with my grief as well as the facts of how my son died but it was no cakewalk, I can tell you that! Continue reading “A Parent’s Grief, Disbelief, Readjustment, and Discovery (suicide of an only child)”

Bereaved Parents, no surviving children

Alive Alone: Death of an Only Child/All Children

by Kay Bevington
Alive Alone

Rhonda Bevington

The death of a child from any cause or at any age is the most devastating experience that a parent will ever encounter in one’s lifetime. Parents are supposed to die before their children or at least that is what we are conditioned to believe in our society in the United States and many other countries. When our child/children die it affects us emotionally, physically, psychologically, socially and spiritually. A child’s death is so inconceivable that our friends, co-workers and family members are at a loss as to how they can assist us on the most difficult journey of our lives. This journey requires understanding and assistance from other bereaved parents like ourselves and often extra help from the professional community. My husband, Rodney, and I reluctantly joined this group known as ‘bereaved parents’ in 1980 when our only child, Rhonda, died unexpectedly of a capillary collapse due to an anesthetic, which was to have been a ‘routine biopsy’ according to the medical professionals.

Even though I credit Compassionate Friends for saving our marriage and lives we still realized that having no surviving children made us significantly different than other bereaved parents as we would never be active parents again, never be grandparents and there would be no immediate family to celebrate holidays, special events or anyone to be our advocate as we age. Continue reading “Alive Alone: Death of an Only Child/All Children”