How to Cope with Losing a Child
For parents, the biggest pain is losing a child. This article explains different stages of grief and the ways to deal with losing a child
Losing a child is a tragic experience. No word can express this heartbreaking feeling. A terrible test for parents who find themselves clueless with unbearable sufferings and questions. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), accidents (unintentional injuries), cancer and suicide are among the top causes of death for 5 to 14 years old. Whatever the cause - Losing a child to cancer, losing a child to suicide, or losing a child to drugs, the incident always appears unfair, unacceptable, unthinkable.
According to some studies, women are the ones who suffer the most after this event:
- difficulty in performing normal daily activities;
- sudden and uncontrolled crying;
- sleep and eating problems: not enough sleep or sleep too much; same thing applies to food;
- disinterest in one's health and self-care;
- a confused state, dominated by a sense of loss.
Psychological effects of losing a child
5 Stages of Grief after Losing a Child
Stage 1: Denial
Mourning always begins with a period of denial , a stun, a state of emotional shock during which parents do not believe in reality. It is a normal self-defense reaction that allows them to protect themselves for a short time against the inevitable.
Then, the hard truth takes its meaning and materializes. If the denial persists, it is because the situation is getting worse. It is recommended to consult a psychologist.
Stage 2: Anger
This stage, extremely difficult to live, is characterized by a sense of injustice. Parents seek answers and guilty. They must then exteriorize there anger. In such situations proper support and patient listening can help them to calm down.
Stage 3: Bargaining
A form of nostalgia that leads the individual to go back and imagine solutions that could have avoided the tragedy. Parents also try to project the life of the child if death had not prevailed. This stage is crucial for guilt.
Stage 4: Depression
Parents abandon all defence against loss: they do not deny it, they let go of the sense of anger towards destiny, they no longer try to bargain. At this stage there is an authentic awareness of the loss. The parent being aware of what he can no longer share with the child, experiences a state of real depression ("My life is hell", "There is no way out"). Typical symptoms of the moment are headache, increase or loss of body weight, inability to concentrate, irritability, insomnia or excessive sleepiness, anger, frustration, persistent sadness and a desire to isolate oneself.
Stage 5: Acceptance
The healing process is long, but eventually the parents will start living on their own, becoming accustomed to the absence of the their child and having a different relationship with the child. That does not mean that sadness disappears forever, it will always reappear from time to time ...
How to Cope with Losing a Child
1. Extend love
A vital solution for parents can be to extend the love for the child who is no longer there to other children, thus opening up to an extended and shared parenting. In this sense, it can be useful to set up or participate as volunteers in associations, initiatives and solidarity projects towards other children. In this sense, love for one's child becomes a universal love.
2. Team up
Sharing grief of losing a child is certainly simpler than dealing with it alone: "the wound heals faster if the family and the parental couple are in solidarity". Support groups are of great help in empowering families with information, hope and guidance to aid them in the their healing process.
Here is the the directory of support groups for losing a child
3. Get help
Such intense pain of losing a child needs to be attended to. In addition to talking with friends and relatives, to know how to deal with the situation and to appeal to one's resilience skills, it may be useful to request a consultation by contacting an expert.