For The Rest Of Our Lives: After The Death Of A Child by Bev Gatenby

Below are comments etc that parents have made following the death of their child.

I feel like pain is my constant companion. Sometimes it sits on my chest, sometimes it tears out my gut, sometimes it throws daggers at my heart, sometimes it is my breath.

Death has taken my breath away, I’ve shallowed-breathed ever since.

I feel crazy. Am I? Does it matter, anyway? Others think I’m okay, they can’t see the maniac inside. Would it be better to show her face? She certainly feels more real than the person she inhabits. What would happen to me if I suddenly showed what’s really going on? Is this what it is like for every parent whose child dies? No wonder I couldn’t ever imagine what it must be like. Who could possibly know?

I live so much inside myself and it is so lonely. I know I’m the only one who can do this, but I don’t want to be here with me. Here there is no escape.

I felt like I should look absolutely tortured since that was how I felt inside and it was a bizarre feeling when people just saw the same old me.

Someone told me the other day about a funeral she’d been to. She said “Oh, I feel sorry for them, that sad lonely pain – you know what that’s about”.

And I nodded, and we talked about the times when the loneliness and the pain are so great that you don’t know what to do with them, and I suddenly thought about the love.

The love I have for you is still so big and deep and wide — the pain and the loneliness, I’ve learnt to handle it but sometimes this love is so overwhelming, consuming, my lifetime investment, come home to roost.


  • Consider the messages from all around you about how you should grieve. Discard the messages you don’t think are right.
  • Think about the way your cultural background influences your grief.
  • Notice what are useful distractions and what are not. Watch out for addictions that stop you grieving.
  • Allow yourself to come to know this death gradually, but do work at understanding it.
  • Consider the conscious and unconscious ways to grieve.
  • Find what works best for you, and ask others to support you in that. Don’t worry about what others think you should be doing.