This is a new experience. It is a bad experience, but one we must now go through. Let each spouse take control of their own grief. Go away as needed either together or alone. Be supportive of each need. Simply put there are four T’s of grief…Time, Touch, Talk and Tears. Time to grieve, the touch of another human being, someone to listen as we talk about our child, and it is necessary to cry the tears which come so easily and without warning.
If we can give and get these we are helped along. Just realizing all 4 of these elements are part of what helps us to know what needs are involved. Learn to remember the love of our child, find strength in it and use it to move forward in the grief process. Celebrate our child’s life, without dwelling on just the death. Find a purpose to go on. Reach out to others. The act of helping them helps you.
There are no answers to “why”. It won’t bring our child back and it does not stop the hurt. Life is a gift not a right. Death is sometimes described as a transition and in that transition we can still feel and touch the love from and to our child.
Grief is not a thing but a process that heals the heart. We can’t “just get over it”. As the process of healing after surgery, healing the heartache takes time too. Try to make it as easy on yourself as you can, and cope as best you can. Remember we will be hit again and again with the pain of grief suddenly and without warning! Don’t let that be a surprise to you.
Grief comes in varying waves. It is reality! It hurts! Talk it out with an understanding person. We must learn to recognize that grief does come in stages and we will bounce between them for a long time.
GRIEF IS HARD WORK! Do it in the best way for you without interfering with other family member’s grief. NOTHING IS WRONG OR SILLY IF IT HELPS YOU! Grief is a long time experience but it will ease somewhat.
Frequently we are afraid others will forget our child. Our children will live on as long as those who know and love them continue to live. Live our lives so that our child will be proud of us. Share our love with others in the same way we would have shared it with our child.
This is a time when we need as many friends and supporters as possible. A true friend can be pushed away but “won’t go away”. It is someone who will stay with you when they would like to be elsewhere, because they know how much you need them, even when you do not know how much you need them.
We all experience many of the same things! You are not “going crazy if:
- You feel depressed or have that profound feeling of longing and emptiness.
- Feel the need to know “why….”, “if only I had or hadn’t…”, “I thought I was doing the right thing…”, “He (She) should have known better…”, “Why didn’t God do as I prayed for…”
- Have physical symptoms as chest pains, heaviness in the chest, tightness in your throat, aching or empty feeling in your arms if your child was a baby or small child, yawning, sighing, gasping, or even hyperventilating.
- You may have altered habits such as not being able to sleep or wanting to sleep all the time, not being able to eat or eating ravenously.
- You may not be able to go into crowded places, places your child went, or the place your child died or spent much time, as the hospital where they received treatment. Sirens and emergency vehicles cause anxiety. Just being anxious for unknown reasons.
- Feeling that you are going crazy. I am the only one who seems to act or feel this way.
- Thinking “I feel fine” and have gotten through this and the next time we are in the situation seem to be back in the midst of severe grief. That “bouncing” between coping and our different reactions to similar situation. Crying all the time, or at unexpected times.
- You may think you see your child in a crowd, thinking they will be in usual places at usual times.
- Become forgetful, unable to concentrate or complete normal tasks, wander around without purpose, misplace things, not wanting to be involved in previous activities.
- You may feel this is not happening. They will be back and things will be normal again.
- Need to repeatedly talk about your child. Retell details of their death. Fear they will be forgotten and that their life had no meaning.
- Feel you can’t go on. “I would rather be, or be better off, with my child.”
- Have the feeling of your child’s presence, see them, hear their voice.
- Feel anger and rage over the death and the situations surrounding the death. “I couldn’t control this, make it better, or prevent this.”
- Become frustrated when we hear from others or we ourselves feel that it’s been a month, 6 months, a year and I’m not over this. Feel societies’ unrealistic expectations of grief put on this most severe loss. Try to meet the pressure to fit our grief into someone else’s schedule or prescribed manner of grief.
No you are not the only one who has had these reactions. They are all typical and natural parts of grief. We can not ignore them but must work through these feelings and reactions. It will take longer to feel better if we try to deny these feelings. This is a slow process! How we choose to grieve or for how long, is normal as long as our grief is acknowledged, confronted, and you don’t hurt yourself or anyone else in your path through the grief process. IT IS A SLOW PROCESS! The Bereaved Parents Of The U.S.A. believe the process is made a little easier by being there to listen to you, share with you, support you and help you to understand your grief and help you work through it. We have been where you are now. We have survived and will be there to help you in this as a self-help method of coping with and working through your grief.
~ Notes from 1998 Bereaved Parents Gathering, Hope in the Heartland, led by John and Carolyn Bryan ~