Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Thursday's Therapy - Unpackaging The Princes' Top 10 TRUTHS about Child-Loss Grief -Truth #5 Everybody is different, so Everybody's Grief is different

Thursday's Therapy

Unpackaging The Princes' Top 10

TRUTHS about Child-Loss Grief

Truth #5) Everybody is different,

so Everybody's Grief is different.

We know that our grief will never end. We will mourn for our children every day for the rest of our lives. We will never return to normal. But we will live again... Life will be forever colored by what has happened. For every parent who loses a child, one life ended and another life is indelibly changed...

Events of bone-crunching intensity inevitably leave us different. The emotional journey people take to regain equilibrium, to be able once again to feel good and value life, to reform themselves so that their loss is somehow integrated into the fiber of their existence--that is the process of mourning.

~Judith R. Bernstein, When the Bough Breaks, (highlights mine)


And that process of mourning for us child-loss parents will look similar to one another in some ways, and very different from one another in other ways.

Some of the differing variables in the ways our unique grief may impact us child-loss parents:

  • Length of time of grief
  • Intensity of grief
  • Impacts of grief on one's coping methods (For example, some parents feel compelled to move from their house in which they raised their deceased child, while other parents may feel compelled to stay in the same house in which they raised their child after the child's death.)
  • Behaviors by which one prefers to express the deep grief (For example, some parents like to frequent the cemetery to do much of their mourning there. Others prefer the privacy of their home, or in their car.)
  • Unique details of the child's particular death
  • Uniqueness of one's relationship to the child
    • Age of the child at the time of death and the degree of dependence on the parents
    • Degree of closeness of parent to the child
    • Intensity of the relationship between the parent and the child
    • Developmental age of the child, and what particular dynamics were going on relationally between the parent and child in regard to that time in the child's life. (Our child was going into her junior year in college, the time that is typical developmentally for establishing more and more independence and decision-making apart from the parents even though still greatly dependent on them in many ways.)

Degree of Functioning (Some people cannot do their life's work at all anymore or may be able to do only a small percentage of it. Others may find work a relief and almost are able to escape into it.)

  • Physiological Differences - Some parents who were dealing with a challenging medical condition before their child's death may find their condition worsened or more debilitating with the added stressors of their child's death. Some parents may be accident prone after their child's death.
  • Types of emotions parents experience, how these are exhibited, and how they are processed may differ. We were expecting sadness and depression, and those we got, but along for the grief ride around year two of our grief came the unexpected emotions... agitation, anger, and anxiety ... or as Tommy calls it "The Triple-A Emotional Club." (Such emotions are very common to PTSD.)


Trauma as shattering and cataclysmic as losing a child...leaves indelible imprints on our lives. We are not the same having traveled that road as we would have been had we been spared that journey.

~Judith R. Bernstein


Everybody is different. Everybody's grief is different. We each find our own ways to navigate through our unique grief. Being able to establish the necessary boundaries and actions needed to attain safety are crucial. Having the freedom, the support, and the ability to accommodate our limitations is crucial. Respecting one another's uniqueness in processing grief is critical.

Love, respect, and support for one another in any ways we can, will go a long way in supporting one another in grief. Showing care and concern for the other's unique needs in expressing grief can effectively "lift just a corner" of one another's grief burden. Such love and support is an incredible gift amidst our grief and will facilitate our bonding to one another even, and especially, amidst our differences in the ways we find we need to grieve.


When a child dies, the very ground on which we depend for stability heaves and quakes and the rightness and orderliness of our existence are destroyed. Nothing in life prepares us; no coping skills were learned. Parents who lose children are thrown into chaos. The loss of a child is shattering, unique among losses.

~Judith R. Bernstein

Picture thanks to
Quotes by Judith R. Bernstein, Ph.D. were taken from her book, When the Bough Breaks: Forever After the Death of a Son or Daughter


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