Sunday, September 5, 2010

Thoughts from Another Bereaved Parent

My dear friend Kay Bevington, founder of Alive Alone for parents who have lost an only child or all their children, wrote and handed out an article at The Compassionate Friends Conference to childless parents that I thought had some noteworthy information for everyone, even though a few areas have been repeated before. With Kay’s permission, I have condensed what she said and combined it with some of my thoughts and comments on my situation (which are in italic type to keep the voices separate) ______________________________________________
Having a child die is the ultimate grief that any parent will ever encounter. Having one’s only child or all children die compounds that ultimate grief to the point of being unthinkable for most people in our society today.

Kay and Rodney’s daughter, Rhonda, died in 1980 at age 16 from Lymphoma. Parents who have lost a child, especially an only child, understand that grief is a life-long journey.

The Now Childless bereaved parents experience a similar grieving process as those with surviving children, but the difference begins when we realize that there will never be grandchildren, no one with whom to celebrate the holidays, no milestones in life and no one to be there for us as we age.

We have difficulty with holidays and special events. Some are fortunate to have friends or extended family members who think to include us in special times or holidays, but some are left to spend all those days and nights totally alone. We learn to do the entertaining, so we are not alone.

Or, in my case, I find it easier to find some new tradition to enhance my holiday, whether it is visiting a retirement home, where I can tell a Marcy story to someone who doesn’t know me or hasn’t heard about Marcy, or helping out serving dinners to the poor to brighten their holiday. We are not the same as we were when our child was alive; therefore, giving our holidays a new twist can help us get past them.

People just do not think to come to our assistance in times of need, as they have children to assist them, and it never occurred to them we could have used some help. I found that to be true when I moved from country living into town and no one offered to help us move. The same thing happened when there was a huge tornado and no one called to see how we were.

We learn to adjust to being childless and make friends with others who have had a similar experience to us. Some of us with no children get together during special holidays or visit each other during the year. There is a special bond/understanding that need not be spoken.

Now childless parents realize that we must plan for our future and see that all financial, medical and business matters are secure and settled long before the time arrives when we will need assistance.

Personally, a new will/ trust and designating what my husband and those close to me will get; new powers of attorney for health, etc. and a foundation in my daughter’s memory helped move me forward and made me comfortable with every aspect of my life and what will happen when I die. I also included a Tangible Property list, which everyone should do for any personal property you want someone special to have like a painting, piece of jewelry or some old books. Leave it with your lawyer.

What do we do with our precious mementos that belonged to our deceased child or ‘things’ that are important to us and our heritage? Usually some of our relatives, friends or children of friends care enough to want some of those ‘things.’ As we age and life’s values change, we begin to realize that those ‘things’ are not what matters anyway. What we do with our life and how we manage to keep our children’s memories alive by helping others are really what is more important than worrying about what is going to happen to our ‘things.’

Both Kay and I have seen families become estranged while fighting over ‘things.’ My relatives sat in the bedroom hours after my mom’s funeral separating all the fine jewelry and deciding who would get what. Only when I walked into the room did the bickering stop, and I was allowed to take what I wanted before they all delved into it again. Some of my friends have spoken about broken relationships over inheritances and who will get what.

We have found that by staying involved in church, community activities, nurturing relationships with other people and working part time, I have been able to keep a positive attitude ‘most’ of the time and find a new type of happiness in life. There are times and events that occur that sometimes make me lose my perspective and I get depressed. But, I can always observe others who seem to have a more difficult time with life events who have not been touched with the grief of having a child die.

We have also learned that it is vitally important to find a local bereavement support group and to attend regularly those first years of grief. It is important to become involved and give back to those who are newer in their grief than we are.

There is a saying that goes: “By helping others, you help yourself.” I completely agree with that. I feel so good when I can help another, through talking to them, directing them to a professional who can help or even suggesting a book for them to read about grief.

I read every book I could find on grief, devoured all the newsletters and listened to tapes until I realized I really was not going crazy and that things I thought, did, forget, or was angry about was very normal for a bereaved parent. I cried oceans of tears, told Rhonda’s story and her personal grief story millions of times to thousands of different people, kept a journal (an invaluable tool of measuring one’s progress), and allowed friends to help me when I needed help.
We started Alive Alone, Inc. in 1988 to be an additional support system for now childless parents. We publish a periodical that is strictly written by and for childless parents. We also network parents whose only child/all children died of a similar age of means of death. In addition we work with other support groups to provide seminars and sharing sessions for their regional and national conferences so that the needs of now childless parents are met.

Coping with the death of one’s only child/all children is the most difficult experience anyone will every encounter. But, it is possible to find a ‘new normal’ and be able to reinvest in life again and find a new form of happiness.

If you are childless or know someone who is, you can reach Kay and get support at

1 comment:

  1. [url=]Я плохая мать? [/url]
    Девушки, у кого грудь третьего размера и более, вы носите лифчики с твердыми чашечками? Если да, то не делают ли такие лифчики грудь зрительно более?
    Какие компании предуважаете?