Grieving the Loss of a Child
Losing a child is one of the most devastating experiences a parent can endure as there is often the belief that a child’s life should not end before his or her parents. Typically, parents see themselves as the protector of his or her children, having to ward off all bad things. However, when death occurs, parents can be plagued with feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and failure. The perception of failure typically arises when there is a belief by the parent they could have or should have done something different that may have changed the outcome for their child. When a child is born parents immediately begin developing hopes and dreams for the child, what type of person he or she will become as an adult, what type of career the child will have, etc., so when a child passes one future is lost others forever changed.
The age of the child at the time of death is often of little importance to the family as the parent typically views their child as a child, with time standing still. Age at time of loss usually does not lessen the hurt or devastation felt at a life that has ended. As reminder most parents feel it is completely unnatural for a child to die before his or her parents. Many grieving parents struggle with whether or not their lives will continue to hold any meaning after the loss or whether they themselves will survive the pain of their loss. It is not uncommon for parents to feel alone and isolated in their grief, as friends and relatives are often at a loss as to what to say and what to do.
Everyone processes, interprets, and suffers loss in different ways depending upon their religious beliefs, culture, family history, and relationship with the person who died. This does not in any way suggest someone cares more or less about the person that passed, it just means they may mourn differently from anyone else. Grief can also vary greatly depending upon how the death of the child occurred, i.e., was it sudden or long and drawn out, etc.
The reasons for this article was due in large part to some of the recent issues in the news featuring children that have either been hurt or lost their lives while on vacation with parents. A few days ago a 2-year-old toddler on vacation with his family was attacked an alligator. The alligator latched hold of the child dragging him into a lake at a Walt Disney World resort. The boy was playing along of the shore of the water when the alligator snatched him and dragged him into the lake, with his family sitting near the water after watching a movie on the beach. This life, like those of other children that pass without reaching his or her fullest potential is devastating to those that love them, their respective communities, and generations to come as we never got the chance to witness the impact they could have made on our future.