Accepting the Death of a Child - Life Beyond Grief

The Death of a Child

The death of a child has to be the most debilitating of all of life's experiences. It's not easy and sadly, I know this from firsthand knowledge. My daughter had not reached her first birthday when I was forced to say goodbye, too soon, way too soon. At the tender age of eight and a half months, Emily was very much a real little girl with a beautiful soul and her own personality. She was not perfect in the eyes of the world but she was perfect to me.

It has been a long and painful journey and not a day goes by when I don't still think it is a long and painful journey. For no matter what road I take along the way, I carry her with me. 'It gets easier with time', how many times have I heard this throw away phrase from others? I know they mean well but I have yet to experience that ellusive comfort and yet it has been nearly ten years. It was while I was waiting for that magic moment when 'time heals all' that I decided instead to deal with my grief in a way that worked for me.

Preparing for the Oncoming Storm

If a storm is approaching we prepare our physical surroundings. Grief comes in waves too.
If a storm is approaching we prepare our physical surroundings. Grief comes in waves too. | Source

Comparing the Death of a Parent to the Death of a Child

The Death of a Parent

The progression of life states that we will bury our parents. This is the natural law of the land. We know how to cope in this situation, it is expected.That's not to say there is no grief in the loss of a parent. Quite the opposite. There will be grief and much sadness and sense of loss. The one constant in our lives, our parent, has been taken from us. Of course there will be grief.

Given the right amount of time, it is expected that we will be able to pick ourselves up and move on. But that length of time will vary and is very much a personal issue. Anyone who grieves has the right to grieve for as long as it takes.

Death of a Child

We give life in the hope that our offspring will experience life in a way superior to the lives we have led. If we aspire to be doctors, scientists or mathematicians and don't cut the mustard, we would like to think our children might do that for us. In a way we hope that the fruit of our loins will take our life experiences one step further. What then, when that child's life is cut short? Where does that leave us and our expectations for a bright future?

A Muddied Creek After the Storm Has Passed

As muddy as the waters following a storm, our emotions can churn inside us
As muddy as the waters following a storm, our emotions can churn inside us | Source

My Child Has Died When Will Life Get Easier?

The grief encountered from the loss of a child is surely harder and will take longer for us to recover. This goes against the grain. No parent expects to have to bury their child. It is unnatural and most unwelcome.

It's been almost a year since my child has died. When will things start to get easier?

The question asks when will things start to get easier, now it has been a year since my child has died? There is no instant answer as there is no step by step plan for how each individual should deal with grief. For some, they will turn to their faith and affirm it is because they know their child is in the hands of God that they can now rest easy. For others, increased bouts of activity will provide a temporary solace for the loss. And then there are those who struggle to deal with the void that has been left regardless of the age of the child.

Acknowledge Your Grief

It is not all down and out in those first years of learning to live with the death of a child. Sometimes a simple acknowledgement that, yes, you are still grieving may be all that is needed to get you through each day. I remember after the first three months I was expected to be back on my feet and moving on. This didn't sit comfortably with me because I certainly didn't feel that I was back on my feet. I decided instead to admit that it was okay to still feel this sadness. Perhaps others around me struggled with that but for me, I felt the pressure of 'getting over it' had been lifted.

Reflections on Still Waters

Knowing that after the storm the waters will calm again can help us in our emotional battles in dealing with grief.
Knowing that after the storm the waters will calm again can help us in our emotional battles in dealing with grief. | Source

Comfort in Nature and the Universe

One of the best things I ever did to help myself through my grief was to approach it just as I would any impending storm. I learned how to prepare for, protect against and ride it out, the same as any of us would do in the face of an act of nature. Because grief comes in waves I found the analogy somehow soothing. I had something tangible to work with and could put some steps in place to help me through each new storm.

There have been some dark times since Emily died. Days when I didn't want to face the world and those when all I wanted to do was go screaming through the streets and let the world know what had happened to my daughter. Life has become a bit of a balancing act and some days I get it right but mostly I feel that another storm is approaching.

Resources for Surviving the Loss of a Child

Accepting the Death of a Child

Acceptance

While there are no step by step instructions on how to survive the loss of a child there are things we can do to help us on the road. I daren't say on the road to recovery for I don't believe it exists but I do feel that reaching an acceptance that sits comfortably for you will help you toward those moments of balance. It is during those times you can let yourself appreciate even the smallest joys that life has to offer.

Life Beyond Grief

Is there life beyond grief - that soul destroying grief from having lost a child? Of course. Many others have survived, some do it better than others. I know there is no changing what has happened. No matter how sad, depressed, angry or frustrated I become the reality stays the same - my daughter has died and I am left to live my life without her. It is my journey now and entirely up to me if I choose to simply survive or live my life well.

As the Storm Passes

The waters of the creek are washed clean, much the same as our hearts if we ride out the storm.
The waters of the creek are washed clean, much the same as our hearts if we ride out the storm. | Source

The Sun Shines on A New Day

There will be more storms but for now the clouds move on and our life returns to a state of equilibrium.
There will be more storms but for now the clouds move on and our life returns to a state of equilibrium. | Source

© 2012 Karen Wilton

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Comments 32 comments

Lilleyth profile image

Lilleyth 4 years ago from Mid-Atlantic

My 18-year-old son died at age 18 in 1993 after a 2-year battle with leukemia and a bone marrow transplant, and you never get that light back in your eyes. People did tell me that they had experiences after he died that led them to believe he was still "around"...so that is something to hang on to.


Karanda profile image

Karanda 4 years ago from Australia Author

Lilleyth I am so sorry your son had such a long battle with his illness. It is true that a light seems to go out of those who are left behind. Life can never be the same once you have experienced the loss of a child, but I believe we can still have a good life if we choose.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

Hi Karen,

First and foremost, I am sorry for the loss of your daughter. She will always remain alive in your memories of her, but that is small consolation especially at first.

My grandmother lost her son (my dad who was 55) and she lived on for many years. My mother who first lost my dad went on to lose both of her sons (my brothers) prior to her death. She affirmed that losing a child is the worst thing she ever experienced, much as she grieved over other losses in her life.

Your photos portray the subject of this hub beautifully. As you say, grieving takes time and everyone has to do it in their own way.

May God bless you!


vrbmft profile image

vrbmft 4 years ago from Yucaipa, California

Hi Karanda

Thank you so much for sharing your personal life and thank you so much for giving us all "permission" to grieve for however long it takes. I have a client who, in a true sense, never recovered from the loss of her infant. To make matters worse, she lost another child when he was 26. He suddenly dropped dead of a congenital heart problem that was never detected. She wears thick emotional armor and spends her life GIVING as a way to block out the waves of grief. The only "problem" is her "giving" robs her husband and her remaining son of the relationship they so desperately want to have with her. BUT it is her grief and no one can tell her how she should or should not deal with it. You know? My point in sharing it here is not to judge her, but simply to add another story to the "pot," a story of someone grieving the only way they know how. She is surviving at this point and is very productive in her job.

There is an interesting line at the end of the movie, "Act of Valor," which I think to many people seems heroic, but quite disturbing to me and I hope the screenwriter meant it to be disturbing. This is not a direct quote, but something to the effect that there is nothing more dangerous or more powerful than a man who puts his emotions and his grief in a box." I agree with the dangerous part, but I am not convinced about the powerful part.

Grief is so essential to life and I think can be soothing. I am not sure if time heals our wounds, but grieving does soothe them.

Sorry to go on and on here! THANK YOU again for sharing so personally. We never know how we support another human being in our hubs,

Vern


catgypsy profile image

catgypsy 4 years ago from the South

Karanda, my deepest sympathies for the loss of your daughter. You are so right that you never "recover" from grief. You just have to learn to live with it the best you can. I like your analogy about the storm. Bless you.


Karanda profile image

Karanda 4 years ago from Australia Author

Thank you Peggy for understanding the depth of grief that comes from losing a child and sharing your own experiences through your mother's and grandmother's eyes. It has been the toughest of all life's battles I've had to face yet I'm still here, getting through each day - some better than others.


Karanda profile image

Karanda 4 years ago from Australia Author

Hi Vern, thank you for adding another story sharing another mother's way of getting through her grief. Giving can be an extremely therapeutic way to comfort ourselves but as you say it is a shame her immediate family is not benefiting.

Grief is essential but the way that we grieve is a personal choice and there is no right or wrong way.

Thank you too, for 'going on, your contribution to the discussion, as always, is thoughtful and helpful.


Karanda profile image

Karanda 4 years ago from Australia Author

Thank you catgypsy for your thoughts and advice. It is true we have to learn to live with the grief which is why I found the storms analogy somehow comforting.


sandrabusby profile image

sandrabusby 4 years ago from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA

Karanda, in looking at your profile page, I homed in on this hub. How beautifully written and what marvelous photography. I, too, am a photographer, but I have never seen Australia. It is a miracle for me to see it through such sensitive eyes. One more thing, have you found Fennelseed and AnnaCia on hubpages? Hoping that you will all connect, I am going to share this hub with my followers. They are only two of the sensitive souls who would resonate with your writing and your images. Thanks for SHARING. Sandra Busby


Karanda profile image

Karanda 4 years ago from Australia Author

Thank you for taking the time to comment, on this Hub especially. It was, of course, a topic close to my heart and needed to be shared. I am thrilled that you enjoyed the photography, it doesn't take much in this wonderful country to find some inspiring images to rise to the occasion!

Thank you for sharing this Hub with your followers - if I can reach one other grieving parent through these words, even if it is only to help them get through one moment of time, it is all worth it. I will certainly follow up on your suggestion and look for Fennelseed and AnnaCia. Your feedback has been uplifting to say the least. Many thanks.


AnnaCia profile image

AnnaCia 4 years ago

Karanda. I just finished reading your Hub. I was so reluctant write my story or read about others who have lost their babies (I also meant a child of any age). It is bitter-sweet. Now I know the reality of opening my doors and enter others stories. I do not regret this at all. I cannot say that I feel good knowing that I am not the only one who lost a baby. How can that be? As you and many others mention, we need to grieve and cry and hurt in order to be able to keep walking. I am with you, and I know that there are so many others who are with us.


AnnaCia profile image

AnnaCia 4 years ago

sandra, you are so special...thanks for putting us together (Karanda, Fennel and I). Ill will follow your steps.


Deborah Brooks profile image

Deborah Brooks 4 years ago from Brownsville,TX

wow.. I can't believe we both wrote about a child almost the same time... I love your hub it is sad but wonderful too.. we will never forget will we?

Debbie


Karanda profile image

Karanda 4 years ago from Australia Author

AnnaCia I know exactly what you mean about being reluctant to write or read about such a difficult topic. But my experience has been that the more I write about my daughter and share her story with others the more connected I feel to people who understand the pain of losing a child. Thank you for sharing your story.


Karanda profile image

Karanda 4 years ago from Australia Author

It is amazing Deborah, that after so many years we would both choose now as the opportunity to share our stories. The loss of a child is so incredibly hard to deal with but through it all - we have our memories. There is nothing that comes close to having a child, I guess that's why we will never forget.


Kangaroo_Jase profile image

Kangaroo_Jase 4 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

Its astonishing that in light of me thinking about the loss of my still born beautiful son I come across this hub. Having lost a child at birth on the day of when I should be at my most happiest is occasionally a bitter pill of grief that's never gone far away in time or in remembering him.

Only ever those who have lost a child so young know how I feel, especially as you do. 12 years have passed yet some days I feel grief as fresh as the day it happened and other days it is with fond memories and smiles I remember my son in happiness.

The day of the end of my sons life I lost something that day that I will never be able to reclaim. This grief, this loss that no parent should ever suffer is the sh#tiest club to ever be a member of.

Life goes on, but it never seems the same, there is always a feeling that life can occasionally feel like looking through tinted glasses that's not always a conscious thing. Its not a bad thing, its just something that is their that's a part of grief that never goes away. I acknowledge that I lost my son, and I shall never have a day that goes by that I shall forget.

Losing a child is not natural, but fighting on and living life as a parent is. If my son taught me anything it is that I must continue to live, and not live always in sorrow and sadness. My previous partner is not with me and has not been for many years, but I am having a wonderful life with someone who means the world to me and that future means another chance and another opportunity to be a father again.

It is the most horrid, revolting, scariest thing in the world to lose a child, but only one thing can possibly be worse, and that is not living life and continuing on a journey as an adult, a father, a partner, a man.

Grief's greatest lesson is one needs top keep living.

For anyone who has recently lost a child, it doesn't get easier with time but the knife stabbing pain of grief does ease over time.

Just remember to keep living and there will be happiness around. The lesson is you don't get over it, but you learn to live, and to love and to continue.......life.

Thankyou for sharing and being so open about your loss Karanda, just a bit sh*tty I know what being a member of this club is like.


Karanda profile image

Karanda 4 years ago from Australia Author

Kangaroo Jase what an absolutely mind blowing comment and how true the words you speak. Welcome to the club and, oh my, how none of us want to be members of that club. I am so sorry your darling baby never had a chance at life and you had to experience firsthand that devastating grief of a parent who has had to say goodbye to their child.

It doesn't seem to matter how many years go by, you have spent 12 years coming to terms and yet your pain is as deep today as it was then but, as you say, the lesson is to keep living. There have been many, many moments when I have considered the alternative but don't dwell on that thought long as it would only serve as an injustice to the life my daughter lead. She was with us for such a short time and she struggled most days, but through it all she had a will to live that I have never experienced. I owe it to her memory to continue to fight on regardless of any pain I might feel.

Thank you for being so candid in your response and sharing what is the most painful of emotions. I know only too well how difficult it is to see it in print. It is as if you are laying your heart on the table.


onegoodwoman profile image

onegoodwoman 4 years ago from A small southern town

Oh my long lost friend........it has been too long, since we met......

you WILL go on.........your other only choice is to lay down and die..........speaking from experience, and loss...........this choice will not be afforded to you.

call upon me.........this IS the purpose of the forum.......that we connect and share........joys, triumphs, and even loss

I am no stanger to loss,,,,,,,,,,,,,just call my name.....I know loss all

Tell me.of your needs


Karanda profile image

Karanda 4 years ago from Australia Author

onegoodwoman I can't tell you what it means to me to know you have taken the time to read and comment on my words. I have chosen to go on in spite of the incredible desire of taking the easy way and laying down to die.

My life and beliefs before my daughter died was that there was a reason for everything. I had faith in myself and a sense of something bigger than all of us on earth and a trust in the universe and its way, whatever that meant and how difficult that might be. I lost all of that with the loss of my daughter.

I still find myself fumbling in the dark but that also means I fumble through the daylight hours as well. It doesn't get eaiser, but I learn how to get through each day in spite of the pain. Thank you for reaching out to me, it means more than you know.


Thundermama profile image

Thundermama 4 years ago from Canada

Karanda, I am so sorry for your loss. Your eloquent words will serve as a comfort to those who have suffered a similar loss. I will be sharing this with a close friend who has also lost a child. I don't think I have read anything else that comes as close as you have here to capturing her ongoing emotions and struggles. Touching and beautiful. Thank you.


Karanda profile image

Karanda 4 years ago from Australia Author

Thank you @Thundermama for reading and your kind words of support. Accepting the loss of a child and dealing with that pain is an ongoing process. You never know from one day to the next where your emotions will take you. It is always wonderful to know other people care. Your friend is lucky to have you looking out for her.


Steph Moofie 4 years ago

I read this article two days ago and am still wondering what I will say. We know you never "get over it", but seeing the fight those babies/children put in to stay alive for however long gives you the strength to carry on, and keep the beautiful memories alive. No-one would ever voluntarily put up their hand for this club but, I wouldn't say no to the club if by doing so meant I didn't get the opportunity to have my beautiful son.


Karanda profile image

Karanda 4 years ago from Australia Author

Thank you Steph for finding the time to comment here. I understand completely.


Dee 4 years ago

I search everyday for hope! The pain is so horrific I don't think I can take another day! Thank you Karanda for being here! I'm so sorry for your loss of your little girl Emily! Everyone here has so much to offer that I am amazed! I too believed in a reason before my tradgedy. I lost all of that the day my beautiful loving daughter Kelly had to leave us Feb. 2011 at the age of 25. The pain never goes away and time is not a healer! I'm so horribly sad! There is no end to this nightmare! It is hard no matter the age! I'm sorry for those of you who had to go through the loss of your child stillborn. To not even be given the chance to hear your little one and watch them grow! And for anyone to lose an infant and toddler who didn't get to grow up with you! I had Kelly for 25 wonderful years but I want more! She's not supposed to go yet! I keep searching for an answer for hope. It is not something I can be given it what I'm finding out. I don't just want memoreies to fall back on I want to create more with her! So I am somewhere frozen in time! Going on seems impossible! I live for Kellys sister Colleen who is so heartbroken to be without Kelly and for Colleens little girl my gand daughter Emma a precious 9 year old. It's a daily battle to stay here but for now I have to. Missing my Kelly!


Karanda profile image

Karanda 4 years ago from Australia Author

Oh Dee, I am so sorry you have to endure this terrible pain of missing your darling daughter Kelly. I am here for you and anyone who is experiencing this grief that feels at times as if it can only consume us. It is okay to be sad for not being able to be with a child you have brought into this world. I know you want more and she was not supposed to go before you. As parents this is, I believe the hardest thing to come to terms with.

If Kelly was anything like her mother I thnk she would want her to go on not only for her sister and daughter but for her mother. If it is a daily battle, simply take one day at a time and gradually you may feel a sense of achievement in winning those small triumphs, just by making it through another day. My thoughts are with you, many blessings.


Type 1 Diabetes profile image

Type 1 Diabetes 4 years ago from Cheshire

Hi Karanda

I am so glad I joined the hub world. I came across your hub when I was looking for somebody who had been through the same as me. I do feel for you.

I lost my daughter 5 years ago and it really doesn't seem like 5 years. It seems like about 2 years. The pain is horrendous. Writing a hub about my daughter is what is keeping me going to a certain extent because I don't want anyone to ever forget her.

Great hub.

Babs


Karanda profile image

Karanda 4 years ago from Australia Author

Keep going Babs, it is important for you and your child that you write till you feel you have nothing more to say. The pain of losing a child can be horrendous but it doesn't have to be forever. That feeling can lose its intensity with every word you write so your daughter will have a place in this world.

Thank you for your courage to share your story and I am so looking forward to knowing your daughter through your words and heartfelt emotion.


Dee 4 years ago

Hi Karanda!

I cannot sleep so here I am again. I've reread what you have written here over and over again. You have an amazing way of writing what is so hard to describe. I've given up on people understanding the life I now live without my daughter Kelly here. It's exhausting! I'm so exhausted! I can't believe how tired I've become in the last 16 months. I find it comforting and safe here on your hub page where I can write without the "move on aleady" from some of the people I work with. And your photos make it a beautiful and peaceful place. I have pretty much just shut down now I'm sure as a protection to my body. Other than my surviving daughter there is no one in my life who understands so thank you again for being here. You and others here know there's no getting over it. I am trying to adopt your great attitude of how we can choose to live a good life because we cannot change our loss. But it is very hard to get there right now because part of me is afraid I will be letting Kelly go. I'm so very sad without her and it's so hard to live. I know it has taken you a long time to get to where you are and I know you still grieve for your Emily. Thank you again for being here and your great writing. And just to let you know you are reaching other grieving parents which truly is helping one moment at a time.


Karanda profile image

Karanda 4 years ago from Australia Author

Dee, all we have is one moment at a time and part of our grieving process is learning to deal with those moments that don't go as well as others. When I learned about the different stages of grief I had yet to learn those stages would come and go for many years.

Grief is exhausting but what is even more tiring is the expectation put upon us by others. When we try to move on because everyone else thinks it is time, all we are really doing is forcing ourselves to make changes before we are ready. It was only when I realised this that I gave myself permission to grieve, in my own way.

My heart aches for you, and me, and all the parents who have had to step their way through the grief of losing a child. All any of us can do is learn to live with our grief - one moment at a time. I am so glad you have found some comfort on this page, through my words and photos. It is your journey so take your time Dee; take as much time as you need.


Steph Moofie 4 years ago

Karen, you never cease to amaze me knowing the heartache you have and yet you still have the heart to inspire others and assist them in their learning process. I know our talks over the years have been an amazing journey for us both. But Man, when I read your words here I am blown away. XOXOX


Karanda profile image

Karanda 4 years ago from Australia Author

Hi Steph, funny you should say that, turns out you never cease to amaze me! It was only because of your heart and understanding that I have been able to put my emotions into words and accept that this whole grief process may well take longer than I could ever have imagined.

As I look back through these comments I re-read Kangaroo Jase's words ‘you learn to live, to love and continue…life’ in spite of being in this club that you both spoke of earlier.

It is the hardest road I have ever had to travel, but it is only because I am on this journey I have had the privilege of others sharing not only their emotions but giving me a glimpse into their child’s lives.


Chases mom 3 years ago

I lost my son at 25, he was turning in to meet me for ice cream- I have two younger children and two step children and a husband but don't think they feel like a mothers pain feels. I live in a lonely place with a mask on, getting through the days, responsibilities and heartbreak celebrations only to be reminded he's not there . It's been since April 2012---- it is like looking through a fog. You have to pretend you are ok because people make you feel guilty otherwise saying you have to be strong for your other children . All I know is everyday is a day closer to being rejoiced in his presence. I think wow when I die how precious it will be to be greeted by my son. I miss him And love him so much. He always made me feel he was so happy to see me and I couldn't protect him . The lady who killed him never aknowledged him -/ she stole my life .

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