DEALING WITH LOSING A CHILD:
HEALING & MOVING ON
At times, life may seem without meaning but reconciliation and recovery will come with time. Some say that parents who lose a child never completely "get over" the loss of their child but they do learn to accept life without their child's physical presence. In order to free yourself from grief, you must somehow learn to accept your new situation and create a new future with your surviving family. Write down affirmations that will help guide your approach to life. Affirmations are simple, positive statements that you feel strongly about, such as "I will be open to new ways to start a family", "I am strong and can grow from this pain", " I resolve to help other affected children and families in need in support", or "I will cherish each moment of my life with my spouse and surviving children". Doing this simple exercise may help restore your energy and improve your outlook on life.
Many people discover that it is possible to recover from grief with new strengths and a new direction in life. You can start by setting new goals to give structure and direction to your life. This may mean taking courses, making something, picking up a hobby or donating time to a cause you support. Moving on with life does not mean forgetting or betraying the memories of your child. Instead, it signifies a new life guided by the memories of your beloved child.
Remembering Your Child
Memories are very important and every parent wants to remember their child in a special and unique way. It might be a small personal gesture or a more public contribution in their honor. In doing something permanent, it helps to bring closure and acceptance for bereaved parents.
Remember that it is never too late to memorialize your child and parents should give careful thought to how they would like to keep their child's memory and spirit alive. You can speak to a hospital's development office or a charitable organization about ways to memorialize your child. Some families choose to acknowledge their child's importance in their life through the following actions:
- Displaying their child's portrait in their home.
- Creating a memory book or photo album to share with other family members.
- Writing a poem, story or song and submitting it to a newspaper or magazine.
- Planting a tree or dedicating a bench at a nearby park or at your child's school.
- Doing something special on your child's anniversary or birthday such as lighting a special candle or going to the cemetery to visit.
- Giving a gift to the hospital where your child was cared (i.e. establishing a research fund, purchasing special equipment, dedicating a room or painting).
- Sponsoring a fundraiser in your child's name and making a memorial contribution to a children's charity like the Children's Children's Cardiomyopathy Foundation.
- Setting up a scholarship at your child's school.
- Making your own memorial token (i.e. pottery, painting, quilt, furniture)
Whether To Have Another Child
You will be forever changed from your experience of losing a child but the tragedy should not destroy your ability to regain your optimism and embrace life again. Inevitably the question of whether to have another child will come up. Some parents want to immediately have another child to fill the void. Others are unsure about taking a risk so soon. Other families decide not to try again and choose adoption as a way to build a family.
Your readiness to try again will probably depend on several physical and emotional factors. Physical factors include your age, your difficulty in getting pregnant, and ease of labor. Emotional factors include your spouse's readiness, your ability to deal with the anxiety and ambivalence of a subsequent pregnancy and whether you have had enough time to grieve over the lost of your child. Furthermore, you need to consider the possibility of having another child with the same condition. It is best to follow up with your child's cardiologist and a geneticist to make sure you fully understand his/her diagnosis, the risk of reoccurrence in your family and any appropriate genetic or pre-natal testing.
Determining how to build a family is a very difficult and personal decision following such a painful event. You and your spouse should take time to think through all the issues so that the best decision can be made for your family.
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