Children's Cardiomyopathy Foundation
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COPING & HEALING

DEALING WITH LOSING A CHILD:
IMMEDIATE FEELINGS

From the beginning of time, children have represented hope and a bright future. When a baby or a young child dies, it is difficult to make sense of such an unnatural and tragically wrong event. For parents, the emotional loss of a premature death can be equally as difficult to accept as the physical loss. When a child dies, the hopes and dreams of the family seem to die as well. It is also not unusual for a family's beliefs and perspective on life to be altered during the process.

During this difficult time, it is normal to feel shock, denial, anger, guilt and depression at different stages or together in different degrees. Initially, you may feel numb, disbelief, and bewildered about life without your child. You may have difficulty eating, sleeping and may neglect your appearance. Over time, shock and denial may give way to anger over what has happened and then guilt for not being able to save your child from suffering. Sadness and depression often follow with episodes of fatigue, crying spells and aimlessness. At this point, you may find that your happy recollections of your child are always overshadowed by painful images of your child's last moments. It is important to realize that these emotions are all part of the normal grieving process. Try to be patient with yourself and your spouse during the bereavement process and acknowledge that intense feelings of anger, sadness, guilt may come up at unexpected times - sometimes months or years after your child's death. However, over time, the pain of your child's death will become less intense and you will be able to better cope with your feelings of loss.