Chapter 2: When someone in your family dies
Losing a child or grandchild
"Throughout my son's illness, I was responsible for much of his care. Now he has died, my days feel so empty…"
In addition to grieving the loss of your child, you may also grieve your caregiving role. Perhaps you also notice that family roles and responsibilities are unbalanced and being reorganized. This can create more tension as family members express their grief in different ways.
Try to be compassionate with yourself during this painful and disorienting time. Keep in mind that grief varies from person to person even within the same family.
"I didn't realize how many of my friendships were based on having children the same age. Now I find it difficult spending time with these friends. Seeing their children and hearing about their milestones painfully reminds me that my child is gone."
Losing a child affects one's social life. You may be too exhausted to socialize, or you may find being around friends with children the same age as your child triggers grief.
Often people don't know what to say to a grieving parent; this can create awkward moments requiring even more energy. Many parents benefit by offering guidance such as: "Please keep talking about my daughter. It helps me to hear her name and to share stories about her."
Connecting with other grieving parents can be reassuring and help you feel less alone.
"I never envisioned something like this happening in my life. I always just assumed that my child would outlive me. Nothing feels “right” anymore."
It is common to feel the world is less safe following the loss of a child. Many parents are conflicted - over-protecting their surviving children while wanting them to live life to the fullest.
Some parents find comfort in their faith. Others find their belief in a higher power is challenged - leaving them feeling even more off balance.
These feelings are all natural and common. Many parents find it helpful to write about their feelings or to talk to someone.
After the loss of a child, some parents wonder if they are still the parents of their child. The question "How many children do you have? It’s not easy.
Your decision to disclose your child's death can change from day to day. It's normal. Many parents come to realize that death does not end their relationship. Their child is still their child, and they will always be the parent of that child.