Thoughts From Other Bereaved Parents
As a bereaved parent, many aspects of grief may come as a surprise and/or catch you off guard. A group of bereaved parents got together and shared their thoughts about grief and things they didn’t expect after losing a child. As you navigate this time, feel free to add to this list by emailing your own thoughts and experiences as they relate to grief and unexpected feelings.
- Simple tasks take a great deal of energy.
- Going to the grocery store will likely be a painfully difficult task.
- You may not feel like answering the phone, an email or text message...and that's OK.
- Sleep can be challenging. You may have trouble sleeping, you might sleep more than normal, or you may need naps during the day that you didn’t need before.
- You may find you are eating more or eating less or binging. We all cope differently.
- Drinking takes the pain away for a little while, but sooner or later it won’t be enough.
- It may feel strange to talk about your child who has passed away in everyday conversation, but don’t let that stop you. If you take the lead and talk about your child, others will feel more comfortable doing the same.
- Reading through condolence cards can be overwhelming. Do this at your own pace and know that it’s ok to cry. It’s also ok to put cards aside and not read them for a while.
“After my child died, I wondered how the rest of the world could continue to move forward when my world came to a screeching halt.”
– Jamie, mother of Courtney
- Decision making can be incredibly hard - just trying to decide what to have for dinner can be a struggle.
- Crying, yelling, and feeling numb - these things are normal.
- There is no right or wrong way to feel and grieve.
- You are very sensitive right now and everything hurts. Try not to stay angry...people care about you and mean well.
- It is ok to have a “good” day or feel happy.
- A good cry can be very therapeutic.
- It may be hard to have patience for others, including family members and surviving children.
- It’s okay to say no if someone asks you to do something and you don’t have the energy.
- Going back to work can be difficult and there is no appropriate time frame for returning. Make the decision that is best for YOU.
- It’s difficult to read a book (or focus on anything).
- Certain songs can trigger emotion when you least expect it.
- You might need a therapist, but it may take a herculean effort to call. Asking a friend for help is ok.
- Everyone grieves differently.
- Grief often comes in waves, it is ok to let the emotions come when they start to bubble up.
- Setting aside intentional time or going to a special place where you let yourself grieve and feel the emotions can be helpful.
- You are not alone. Other families have experienced the loss of a child and conversations with them can be quite helpful.
- You may find that you need help today, but down the road you may find that you are helping someone else.
- Birthdays, holidays and anniversaries feel empty without your loved one.
- Time will not heal all wounds or make the pain go away, but it does change things. You learn at some point how to carry your loss and keep going.
- Your child does have a legacy. They had a profound, positive effect on you, your family, and your community. His/her life matters.
Family and Friends
- People sometimes say the wrong thing. They are likely well-intended but inappropriate.
- Unless someone else has gone through it, they will never understand.
- It is ok to tell people what you need...they want to help!