Monday, June 13, 2011

Helping Yourself When Your Child Has Died – Part 2 of 2

~ by Charles A. Corr, Ph.D  _ Continued from our posting on June 11th, 2011...

DRAW STRENGTH FROM OTHER BEREAVED PARENTS - Bereaved parents often report that other parents who lost children were their most effective helpers. “They knew the pain. They knew what to say and what not to say.” It may help you to seek out a local support group for bereaved parents by asking for referrals from a funeral home, hospice program or a religious institution in your area.

FOCUS ON YOUR CHILD’S LEGACY - Many parents have found it helpful to concentrate not only on what they have lost, but also on what their child has meant and continues to mean to them. They reflect on how their child enriched their lives. You can do this by thinking about the special place and meaning your child holds for you. Your life is richer because your child lived.

Your relationship with your child will now be different – that is the hard fact resulting from death. However, your child will always have a place in your heart – that will never change. Even though your child is no longer alive, you can still love that child for as long as you live. Loving in separation is no less real than loving in presence.  Your child helped to make you who you now are in your life’s journey. The legacy of your child can still help you grow; it can continue to have profound effects in your own life and in the lives of those around you.

COMMEMORATING YOUR CHILD’S LIFE - You can commemorate the life of your child in many ways. Some parents write brief poems or short stories, while others compose a journal of memories, create a garden, make a charitable donation, or establish a scholarship in their child’s memory.

Other parents commemorate the life of their child by buying or making a special present on their child’s birthday, holidays or other gift-giving occasions. They then donate the present in the memory of their child to a poor youngster or to a charity. In this and other ways, you can maintain an important connection with your child and keep his or her memory and legacy alive in your own life.  You can often help yourself best by accepting support and love from those who love you and who knew and loved your child, as well as by helping others who turn to you for support and love.

Everyone who loved your child will be affected by his or her death. All of them still need to feel loved, secure, and like they are an important part of your family. Shared hugs and tears are great ways to say, “We still are a family, the child who died remains a part of our family, and in spite of everything we all continue to matter.”

~ Charles A. Corr, Ph.D, is Professor emeritus, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, and former Chairperson (1989-1993) of the International Work Group on Death, Dying, and Bereavement. Dr. Corr’s professional publications include 22 books and more than 80 articles and chapters on a wide variety of death-related topics.

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