Sunday, October 7, 2012
Impact of Child Loss
We are all impacted in a variety of ways when we lose a child. I have found both negative and positive changes in myself that I’d like to share with you. If you have additional changes you’d like to share that have affected you, please send me comments. I’d like to know how others feel and moved through the grief process.
I always think of my child every day (probably more than normal), what I did with her, how she behaved, how proud I was of her accomplishments and most of all, how much I loved her. I now have a hole in my heart forever more. For the rest of my life, no matter where I am or what I am doing, I will think of how nothing I can do will change that..
I am always reminded of the little things, like a song that she liked, the fun I had on a trip, a movie I may see that I know my child would have liked, a book I read that has a character that reminds me of her in some small ways. Everything I do is a reminder of what I no longer have.
The hurt never goes away, no matter how much I may want it to. Some bereaved parents may need extra help and seek out counselors; others talk to their friends or family members about their loss and receive comfort. But nothing can take away that empty feeling. One minute they are here, the next they are gone and it’s hard to conceive that your life has changed forever..
I find I must change goals and priorities in life. What was once important to me may no longer have any meaning. A beautiful warm spring day that has the birds singing may tug at my heartstrings, and I think, “My child should be here to see this with me.” Who wins the World Series or the Stanley Cup does not even enter my mind. What does enter it is that the world is moving on but my daughter is not part of it.
I found I lost friends when my child died. There were people who didn’t want to be around me. Perhaps they were afraid what happened to me would rub off on them. Others didn’t know what to say, so didn’t say anything, rather than admitting it was difficult for them to adjust also.
After an initial grief period, which can last from a few months to a few years, I, personally, found a new purpose to my life: helping others through their grief journey and speaking to various groups about surviving grief. I have encouraged some bereaved parents to champion a cause, such as stiffer laws for drunk drivers or locking up murderers for life, changing waiting periods to purchase guns, become a victim rights activist, or become a volunteer to help others. Meeting others like yourself will help you more than you realize.
I put my feelings on paper, a real catharsis. I wrote two books about surviving grief and, not surprisingly, I may have helped others, but I also helped myself. Talking about feelings and how we get through each day helps one understand the grief process.
I have made new friends. Old friends have fallen by the wayside. Out of the woodwork came people who really cared about me and wanted to be a part of my life and most importantly, help me cope. I feel comfortable talking about my daughter to new friends who really care.
I look at things around me more closely now. I see beauty I never noticed before in the slightest thing—a bird nesting and feeding her babies, a beautiful sunrise over the misty mountain tops, the quiet solitude of walking in a forest. I was too busy with everyday life to notice what was really important other than my daughter, and I appreciate it more now.
Although we never get over the death of our child, we don’t have to allow it to define or destroy us. We can move on and grow in the process, finding comfort, hope and the courage to live again.