The death of a child is possibly the most difficult loss of all to accept. It destroys what we perceive as the natural order of things and forces parents to face a seemingly unbearable emotional experience. As a parent, you must try to say goodbye to someone that you had little chance to know. You must accept that a life has ended, even though it barely began. Whether your child was a baby, adolescent or an adult, you must work through the same emotions and not always at the same time.
If you recently lost your child, most likely you are experiencing a mix of emotions including shock or denial, depression, anger and guilt. It is extremely common to be preoccupied with the circumstances of your child’s death, or you may have dreams and nightmares about them-thinking you see or hear him or her.
If the child died because of some traumatic accident, you may be angry at whomever you believe caused it. If the child’s actions partly caused his or her death, you may even be angry at your child-and then feel guilty about that anger. You also may feel terribly guilty simply for living when your child has died. But perhaps you feel the most guilty because you feel you should have prevented your child’s death.
The bond between a parent and child often begins as soon as the couple knows they are pregnant. Therefore, you are likely to grieve just as much if you experience a miscarriage or still birth.
Losing a child can have another effect that couples often do not expect: It will probably alter your feelings toward each other. All individuals experience grief differently. However, after the death of a child, parents often expect their reactions to be similar because they are experiencing the same loss. As a result, you may find it difficult to communicate. It is important to set aside time to be alone together to talk, cry or simply hold each other. Finding a way to support each other, and respect your needs as individuals will help you through this difficult time.
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