Living with Grief

One of a series of leaflets published by The Compassionate Friends A child of any age dying before their parents is devastating. This bereavement is like no other and changes us forever. At first, we are in a state of shock, numbness, denial and disbelief that can cushion us temporarily from the full impact of what has happened. Gradually this protection against the cruel reality begins to wear off and we are overtaken by the pain of grief. Our preoccupation with thoughts of our child can make us fear that we are going mad. Sometimes we engage in restless over-activity and suffer from exhaustion. Sleep and appetite routines are disturbed. We may feel helpless, anxious, depressed, confused, angry, out of control or in despair. The ordinary activities of life have little meaning for us. We may find ourselves unable to concentrate on anything. These are natural responses and quite normal. Every bereaved parent goes through some or even all of these at different times. Certain feelings may be more troubling than others. The pain of grief In the words of Colin Murray Parkes, a British psychiatrist and author on bereavement: “Grief is the price we pay for love.” This quotation may be appropriate when we face the loss of an elderly relative or friend, but it brings little comfort when our child has died. The death of a child goes against the natural order. Not only the present, but the future shifts and alters in myriad ways, particularly if this loss has left us childless. It is not surprising that the devastating reality hits us over and over again. If we have surviving children, we may also grieve deeply for the loss they have suffered. Individuals grieve differently; there is no timetable for grief. Initially, survival might seem impossible or perhaps even undesirable. Grief is not orderly or progressive. It pours in with great turmoil, and is Living with Grief