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
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
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
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
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 Sun Shines on A New Day
© 2012 Karen Wilton