Chapter 4: Other losses and changes
Changes to your identity
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.
Do you have children?
How many children do you have?
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.
Who am I now?
What do I do with my time and energy now?
How will my relationships or roles with my adult child’s family change?
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.