Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Helping Yourself Heal When Your Child Dies Part 1 of 4

I'm confident that we've posted this in the past, however right now - after Mother's Day, when the pain of our child's death, no matter how recently or how long ago that may be, the heartache can feel so very fresh & strong, I think it's worth posting again.  It never hurts to be reminded that yes our pain is real, we aren't going crazy - that we are normal.. and also to reaffirm that we will move forward and that this pain is just a reminder of how much we love our children.. Parts 2 - 3 and 4 will be posted over the next several days... Cherie Houston

~ by Dr. Alan D. Wolfelt

ALLOW YOURSELF TO MOURN - Your Child has died. You are now faced with the difficult, but important, need to mourn. Mourning is the open expression of your thoughts and feelings regarding the death of your child. It is an essential part of healing. With the death of your child, your hopes, dreams and plans for the future are turned upside down. You are beginning a journey that is often frightening, painful and overwhelming. The death of a child results in the most profound bereavement. In fact, sometimes your feelings of grief may be so intense that you do not understand what is happening. This brochure provides practical suggestions to help you move toward healing in your personal grief experience.

REALIZE YOUR GRIEF IS UNIQUE -Your grief is unique. The unique child you loved and cared for so deeply has died. No one, including your spouse, will grieve in exactly the same way you do. Your grief journey will be influenced not only by the relationship you had with your child, but also by the circumstances surrounding the death, your emotional support system and your cultural and your religious background. As a result, you will grieve in your own unique way. Don't try to compare your experience with that of others or adopt assumptions about just how long your grief should last. Consider taking a "one-day-at-a-time" approach that allows you to grieve at your own pace.

ALLOW YOURSELF TO FEEL NUMB -Feeling dazed or numb when your child dies may well be a part of your early grief experience. You may feel as if the world has suddenly come to a halt. This numbness serves a valuable purpose: it gives your emotions time to catch up with what your mind has told you. You may feel you are in a dream-like state and that you will wake up and none of this will be true. These feelings of numbness and disbelief help insulate you from the reality of the death until you are more able to tolerate what you don't want to believe.

Part 2 of 4 will be posted on May 12th; Part 3 of 4 will be posted on May 14th; Part 4 of 4 will be posted on May 16th

About the Author - Dr. Alan D. Wolfelt is a noted author, educator and practicing clinical thanatologist. He serves as a Director of the Center for Loss and Life Transition in Fort Collins, Colorado and is on the faculty at the University of Colorado Medical School in the Department of Family Medicine.

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