Sunday, October 2, 2011

Parental Grief and the journey

For any parent, whether married, single, or step-parent, the death of a child is one of the devastating losses anyone can experience. The age of the child makes no difference – whether it is a child not yet born, a tiny baby, a young child, a teenager or a full grown adult with children of their own, the death of a son or daughter at any age is a parent’s most painful and debilitating loss.

So many of us struggle alone with our grief in the beginning. You might not want to bother anyone, you might not anyone near you, maybe you just don't want to be reminded of what has happened so that we can deny it. But no matter how you are feeling, it’s important to remind yourself that you don’t have to do this alone. Sharing your grief and the journey of grief with others who have had a similar experience can be helpful and give you hope.

The person you choose to share this journey with might be a spouse, a dear friend or family member who has shared this experience, maybe a member of a grief support group, such as our Mom's Bereavement Group or a chapter of The Compassionate Friends or Bereaved Parents, it might be a trusted spiritual leader or physician, but the journey can't be avoided and you might find that it's a little less trying if you share the journey.. After all we know that traveling with someone else has many advantages and this journey is no different.

Yes, grief is a journey that we all must take when we lose someone we love – it’s just that the journey of grief for those of us who have lost a beloved child is more difficult and often takes longer…

The death of anyone we love is agonizing, but when our son or daughter dies, life is changed forever. The simple fact is, our children are ‘not supposed’ to die before us. We expect them to bury us - not the other way round. The ripping pain and seemingly endless waves of despair are not just for the immediate loss of their presence, but for all that we won’t share with them for the rest of our lives. All we have invested in them - caring, providing, advising, problem solving - now seems wasted.

But there is light at the end of this dark valley - grief journey. Although it is painful, this journey can help us create a new life, one without our child physically but with their memories.. It’s a journey to a ‘new normal’ in which there is hope, meaning and joy again - a world in which our son or daughter is never forgotten, but is always a treasured part.

So find someone to help you along on your journey and you will reach your destination, that “new normal” where there is hope, peace and joy and you can and will smile again ~ Cherie Houston

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