Sunday, June 29, 2014

Unique Aspects of Losing an Only Child, part 2

...continuation of last weeks column: Unique Aspects of Losing an Only Child. Please read last Sunday's column before continuing on to this one. This is continued from 6/22/14.

Does losing my only child have to affect my marriage? If anything, it can bring you closer. Your child is part of both the wife and husband and although you may grieve differently, you can still come together and talk about the child, especially the good memories of your life together. The death can also tear you apart because of the differences in grieving techniques, but if you have a good relationship and have always gotten along well, you can survive this too. Surveys show that if the marriage breaks up, it is not because of the child's death, as many believe. There was something wrong with the marriage in the first place. If your marriage is worth saving in your eyes, seek professional help.

Will I lose my friends who still have children? Many believe their friends are uncomfortable around them now that your child is gone. It's that old syndrome: I don't want what happened to you to rub off on me. Grief does shove away friends and scares away so-called friends and rewrites your address book for you. Be prepared to deal with some rejection, but you will always have those good friends that will stick by you no matter what. I lost a few friends. At first I was heartbroken. Why couldn't they understand what I was going through? The good friends who stuck by me made up for that heartache in time.

If I remarry, will I have problems with stepchildren? There is always that possibility. Stepchildren can resent you; they see you as disrupting their lives; they want their mother or father back, therefore, they resent you. As for your new spouse, he/she should be supportive of what you've gone through. They should understand you will have good days and bad days. I am very lucky to have a stepdaughter who is very understanding. She recently had her own child, and I know that now she "gets it" better than any one of her friends that don't have children yet, ever can.

I'm single and lost my only child. What will I do with my life now? What is my reason for living? One thing you can do is to stay in touch with your child's friends. I stayed in touch with my daughter's best friend. She now has three children and I am the Godmother to them. And what a joy they are to me. For some, it may hurt too much, knowing your child should have been able to have her own. Another thing you can do if you have no other family members is to help others by volunteering in a retirement home. These older people are just as lonely as you are. You'd be amazed at the friendships that can form. Of great concern is who will take care of me in my elderly years or if I become ill? That is a serious question that needs to be addressed so that all your papers say exactly what you'd like done, not what the state decides. You need to prepare for getting older for your peace of mind.

How do I get people to understand the "new me?" Attempt to tell others how you have become different since your child died. What has happened has changed you forever. Explain how you have different goals and different priorities now. What was once important to you may no longer have any meaning. Grief makes what others think of us of no importance. It shears away the masks of normal life and forces brutal honesty out of your mouth before propriety can stop you. My child is dead and nothing else is as important as that at this moment. Being bitter doesn't help. What helps is having others understand and be part of your grief journey.

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