Sunday, August 14, 2016

Sudden or Violent Death

Sudden or violent death of a child - workshop

The Sudden Death of a child is very close to my heart. It is the way my daughter died at age 27, and I always want to hear and read more about the topic.

Parents become paralyzed when their child died suddenly. They are in a state of shock, and it can take a long time to comprehend. There is no opportunity to prepare, resolve misunderstandings or, or most important, to say good-bye. My daughter and I had a wonderful relationship and when she was suddenly killed in a horrific car accident four months after her marriage, I couldn’t believe it. Neither can most parents. Our lives are changed forever.

Shock is our first response to news of a sudden death. We can’t believe what has happened, nor can any relatives or friends. It can take days, weeks and in some cases, months, to comprehend emotionally what has happened. You may have a fear of going crazy: what could you have done, should have done. This can lead to anxiety in your chest, lack of sleep, and an inability to function normally. We are angry at the injustice of it all; we anguish that the loss is forever, we yearn to be with the child; we might also focus our anger on those responsible. In my case, the man who smashed into them was never caught.

Bereaved parents also want to reach out for a “sign” from their child, and can be highly susceptible to the power of suggestion.

We ask ourselves “if only” and “What if.” We have guilt about what might have saved our child. Our job is to protect our child and not blame ourselves for what happened. Four important points to keep in mind are (1) talk out your feelings with the family, (2) talk with those who have been there, (3) keep a journal where you can address unfinished issues and say things left unsaid, and (4) the need to blame oneself will move from a main focus of grief to a level of acceptance since many tragedies in life are not preventable or foreseeable.

My biggest focus was on Anger towards those responsible for my daughter’s death. There are often yearnings to die in place of your child. It is suggested you surround yourself with like-minded people, create special ways to remember, talk about your child, keep a special memory album, hold special memorial gatherings to remember and honor the child, hold blood drives, donate toys, become a spokesperson for a cause, have a birthday party every year and do a memorial tattoo on your body. A good site to set up a memorial website for your child is

Many families say that one of the most difficult things is to see the world go on when the child is gone. But there are many ways to remember. Include your child’s name in a conversation. Even if friends are shocked at first, they will get used to it and perhaps feel better about their own memories of your child. Tell stories, make a special memory album others can look at. Honor the child in any way possible. Give back by helping a newly bereaved person.

We learn to accept the death. It can take a very long time because each person’s grief is different. Complete recovery is a myth. We never get over it. The family unit is changed forever and they need both short and long term support when the death comes suddenly. You will find your pain slowly changing from intense to warmer memories and a commitment to lead our lives in honor of our child and in a way that would make that child proud.

These ideas and thoughts are all constructive, representing some good that can come from a tragedy. Reinvest in love, work and living.

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