Chapter 4: Other losses and changes

A changing relationship with your child

I love when friends share a memory or story about my daughter. I know that she was loved by so many people, and this makes me feel like she won’t be forgotten, no matter how much time has passed.

My son will always be my son – his death doesn’t change that. We shared so much together over the years, and talking about him keeps him and those memories close.

Although your child has died, you continue to have a relationship with them. They may be physically absent now, but the bond you have with them will remain intact throughout your life. It’s not unusual for a bereaved parent to carry on conversations, in their head or in a journal, with the child they have lost. This doesn’t mean you are denying the reality of their death but, instead, is about honouring or nurturing your changing relationship.

It’s also important to let others know about this. Some people may hesitate to use your child’s name or make any reference to them out of a fear that this will upset you or cause you additional pain. This can leave you feeling that your child has been forgotten. 

What may help

  • Consider creating a “memory shelf” or special place in your home for photos or other significant items.
  • Let other people know what you need from them. This might be hearing your child’s name or receiving acknowledgements of their birthday or the date of their death.
  • What you need may change over time. Speaking or hearing your child’s name may be intensely painful in the early days after their death, but may provide some comfort later on.
  • Be patient with yourself and with others.