Chapter 4: Other losses and changes

Loss of hopes and dreams

The children’s grief expert says
Social worker Fred Nelson talks about how to manage different "triggers of loss".(3:22)Video transcript
I've been there
Jay talks about how he copes with grief by deliberately triggering his grief with songs.(3:22)Video transcript
Courtney and Jay talk about how they always wonder about the things Kalyana never got to do. (3:22)Video transcript
Emma describes how her grief includes processing all the other losses of life events her children won't have.(3:22)Video transcript

He's never going to graduate high school. He’s never going to play soccer. He's never going to meet someone to spend his life with.

After the death of a child, the hopes and dreams you may have had for them, including milestones or significant life events, are no longer possible. Your dreams of watching them grow and develop are now gone.

You may have imagined a future where your child would always be there with you, perhaps even taking care of you as you aged. If your child was an adult, they may have already been providing some degree of caregiving, and you may now be missing their care, attention, and practical support.

Your awareness or experience of these losses is part of grief. You may find that certain events, celebrations, places, music, or even people (such as seeing one of your child’s friends), to be distressing or overwhelming. Over time, you may find it a little easier to deal with these situations, especially if they allow you to share memories of your child with others.

What may help

  • Identify and acknowledge the hopes and dreams you have lost.
  • Talk with supportive people about what is difficult for you. Ask for help in planning how to manage upcoming events or celebrations.
  • Allow yourself to “bow out” if you need to, even at the last minute.
  • In time, you may notice that situations or people who were once only painful reminders of your loss now provide some comfort.