Sunday, March 1, 2015
What Changes When Your Child Dies?
What changes when your child dies? When my daughter Marcy died, everything changed! Some of the things that come to mind include:
You no longer have that person that you loved, cherished and meant the world to you. Whether you only had the child for a few months, a few years or through their adult years, you believe your life has lost its meaning. You lose all hope and your future without your child.
Relationships with family and friends change. Family members may not want to talk about your loss or think you should get over it after only a short while. They don’t understand this grief journey is a life-long one with many hills to climb over. Your relationship with your spouse will also change depending on whether you grieve together or separately. If he is not the child’s natural parent, he may not understand your continued grief, and riffs may come up.
Friends may not want to be near you; they are afraid it could rub off on them, or they think you’ve changed and are not the same person you were before your child died. Guess what? They are right! How can you be the same after such a great loss? Friends can also be insensitive to your feelings and the fact that you cry and are depressed a lot. That could create resentment within you and close communication between you and your friend.
You may lose control over your thought process. Making simple decisions becomes very difficult for you and planning anything seems useless.
Your priorities and goals change. What was once important to you may no longer have any meaning without your child. For example you may have gone to sports games with your child. Now, you don’t want to do anything that will remind you of your loss and the wonderful times you used to have.
Grief work is the hardest thing you will ever do and could take a lifetime to achieve, but slowly, we do realize we are healing, that we do grow from our loss, and we begin to plan what we need and want to do. We realize the future may even hold some happiness. But it can be a very slow process. I believe that something positive will come out of something so overwhelmingly negative. Many of us become better people, more patient, understanding, loving and compassionate. We owe it to ourselves and to our child’s memory to make something out of the life we’ve been given. Time is a great healer. My child would not want me to wallow in grief forever. When the depression lifts, we realize life awaits us.
It’s all very scary, but I realize I can personally do things that will make us both proud and that I am a survivor. I can see it now in all the people I have helped through this unspeakable horror, in my work with TCF conferences, conferences I’ve been in charge of, the two books I’ve written on surviving grief (thanks, Marcy for your inspiration), and particularly through this blog, when people email me and want my help. I try to do what I can. Though I may not always be successful, I feel better for having tried, and I hope that one day those that at first were so negative, will come around and understand what I am trying to do for them. We all deserve to be happy and take a chance on what life still has to offer us.