Chapter 4: Other losses and changes

Changes to your identity

I've been there
Dana talks about how hard it was to figure out who she was after she no longer had to care for Jaxon. (3:22)Video transcript
Khadijah talks about how she answers the awkward question of whether or not she has kids. (3:22)Video transcript

I’m still a mother, just not in the way most people understand that. 

When asked if I have children, I now say “Yes, two sons, the oldest who continues to live with us in spirit and the youngest who is living and working.”

I don't know who I am anymore because my entire life was ripped out from underneath me. I'm still figuring out who I am, now I’m not the caregiver. What are my likes? My dislikes?

Your role as a parent

When you have a child or children, part of your identity is that of “parent.” The death of a child, especially an only child, can challenge the way you see or understand yourself or your place in the world. You might be asking yourself, “Am I still a parent?”

You may also struggle with answering difficult questions from other people. Click on the arrows to view some examples.

Your role as caregiver

Parenting also involves caregiving. If your child who died was young, you may have spent a lot of your time and energy on their day-to-day care. If they were ill or had a disability, this care may have been even more intense. Perhaps your adult child needed your care for some reason; or you might have also looked after their family. Click on the arrows to view some questions you may be asking yourself. 

What may help

Recognize questions that are difficult, bring up strong feelings, or catch you off guard.

Make a plan for how you might deal with difficult questions. You might answer in different ways at different times, depending on your mood, the situation, and the person who is asking.

If you need help with this, reach out to others who have had to deal with these questions for support. This might be through a bereavement support group, online resources, or grief counselling.

Remember that there is no right or wrong way to respond. Be gentle and give yourself time to find your own answers.