Thursday, July 8, 2010

Thursday's Therapy - Surviving the Death of Your Child ~by Carol A. Ranney







Thursday's Therapy


Surviving the Death of Your Child


~by Carol A. Ranney






Family Grief and Bereavement 101:

How Can I Survive the Death of My Child?

~Carol A. Ranney, Family Grief & Bereavement Examiner


  • The death of a child is one of life’s most heart-wrenching experiences. There is a sense of wrongness—parents are not supposed to survive their children. When a child dies, beyond the incredibly painful loss of one’s child, the losses unfold and extend into the future… all the firsts, the graduations, the career, the marriage, grandchildren…so much that was consciously or subconsciously anticipated, gone in an instant.
  • The initial phases of experiencing such a close loss, shock, panic, denial, carry us through those first terrible days and weeks. We function in a daze, planning the funeral, arranging the burial, ordering the tombstone…things we had given no thought to and had not in our wildest imagination thought we would ever have to do for our child.



  • Almost as soon as the funeral and burial are over, people go back to their lives, the world continues on, friends begin to talk about their everyday plans and activities, and no one seems to realize that for you, life has stopped.


  • Nothing exists for you but your grief, your loss, the emptiness and silence in your home and heart.
  • Grief can be denied, but sooner or later, it must be confronted and even embraced.


  • Be gentle with yourself—mourning is some of the hardest work you will ever do.


  • Live one day at a time, and try to think in terms of the next 24 hours, not the next 24 days or years. Don’t try to accomplish too much in one day—pick the most important task and just concentrate on that. Keep a list of things that need to be done: cook dinner, mow the lawn, return library books, and when someone asks what they can do, or tells you to call them if you need anything, pick an item off the list and ask them to do it, then cross it off the list.
  • Keep a journal. You will be surprised how much relief you will find through writing down your thoughts, questions, memories, fears, letters to your child, or anything else that comes to mind each day. Grief makes you feel as if time is standing still, and that nothing is changing. It seems as if you have always been in pain, and always will be in pain. By looking back in your journal now and then, you will be able to see that you are making progress on the journey of grief, that you are not in the same place you were a month or six months ago.
  • Join a support group to find the strength and support you need to go on day by day, and as time goes by, you will be able to give back to new parents some of the support you have received from parents further down the grief road. When you are ready, supporting another newly bereaved parent is one of the most helpful things you can do for yourself.
  • Plan for difficult days—holidays, birthdays, the death anniversary, the expected date when your child would have been born, or other days of special significance. Anxiety about an upcoming day can be somewhat relieved by deciding on something of significance to spend your time on. It may be as traditional as taking flowers to the cemetery and weeding or cleaning the headstone, or as individual as going to see your child’s favorite movie.


  • Make open-ended plans that you can change, if necessary, at the last moment.

  • And remember, even the worst day lasts only 24 hours.
  • Think about how you might reinvest the love, time and care that belonged to your child when he or she was alive. You are your child’s legacy—what you do with your life from now on will reflect the person you have become because of the life, and death, of your child. As you progress in mourning your child, think of ways you might honor his or her memory and all you learned from your child. MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving), POMC (Parents of Murdered Children), and The Compassionate Friends, among many other organizations, were started by bereaved parents. There are many ways, both big and small, to make a difference for one or many in memory of your child.
  • Surviving the death of your child is a long journey made in small steps. There is no way to rush it or to detour around it.

  • The pain of grief is the price we pay for the love we have shared. It is a privilege given only to those who have known great love. Embrace it, and learn from it all your child has to teach you.






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2 comments:

K. Lonopin said...

I did however face alot of scary situations. I had a hair appointment yesterday that I had been dreading. Not because I was afraid I wouldn't like my hair or that someone there might do somthing to me but beacause..."It would be really scary if I pass out while I'm there.

danielle198890 said...

Yes Angie,

Life progresses as usual for most that never realize the reality of our daily suffering, as we continue endure specific heart stabbing reminders and sorrow (beyond our consuming thoughts). Whether it's an item of clothing, notes, drawings, school books, projects, hand crafted cards or one of the numerous look-alike children seen everywhere, we continue to struggle to define our "new normal," hoping that one day it will entail far less pain and a growing contentment. I picked up a few items at the local shopping mall recently. Before leaving toward the parking lot I stopped for a cup of coffee, and as I looked outside the "Womens Hospital" was in full view. My mind drifted to being on the inside of the hospital window the day I delivered Kristin into this world. Life is a fragile gift, and nobody knows all that a new day will bring. One thing is certain...Shared pain with a loving friend is divided into slices of joy creating a "lighter load" of suffering.
Love, Danielle

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