Parental grief is overwhelming; there is nothing that can prepare a parent for its enormity or devastation; parental grief never ends but only change in intensity and manner of expression; parental grief affects the head, the heart, and the spirit.
For parents, the death of a child means coming to terms with untold emptiness and deep emotional hurt. Immediately after the death, some parents may even find it impossible to express grief at all as many experience a period of shock and numbness. All newly bereaved parents must find ways to get through, not over, their grief to go on with their lives. Each is forced to continue life’s journey in an individual manner.
Parental bereavement often brings with it a sense of despair, a sense that life is not worth living, a sense of disarray and of utter and complete confusion. At times, the parent’s pain may seem so severe and his/her energy and desire to live so lacking that there is uncertainty about survival.
Some bereaved parents feel that it is not right for them to live when their child has died. Others feel that they have failed at parenting and somehow they should have found a way to keep the child from dying,
Grieving parents should learn to be compassionate, gentle, and patient with themselves and each other. Grief is an emotionally devastating experience; grief is work and demands much patience, understanding, effort, and energy.
Each bereaved parent must be allowed to mourn in his/her own way and time frame. Each person’s grief is unique, even that of family members facing the same loss. Bereaved parents shouldn’t expect or try to follow a specific or prescribed pattern for grief or worry if they seem out of sync with their partner or other grieving parents
Bereaved parents need to know that others may minimise or misunderstand their grief. Many don’t understand the power, depth, intensity, or duration of parental grief, especially after the death of a very young child. In some instances, bereaved parents are even ignored because some individuals are not able to deal with the tragedy. They find the thought of a child’s death too hard, too Inexplicable, or too threatening. Many simply don’t know what to say or do and so don’t say or do anything.
Probably the most important step for parents in their grief journey is to allow themselves to heal. Parents need to come to understand that healing doesn’t mean forgetting. They need to be good to themselves and absolve themselves from guilt. They should not be afraid to let grief loosen its grip on them when the time comes. Easing away from intense grief may sometimes cause pain, fear, and guilt for a while, but eventually, it usually allows parents to come to a new and more peaceful place in their journey. Allowing grief’s place to become a lesser one does not mean abandoning the child who died.
In the end parents must heal themselves. It was their baby; it is their loss; it is their grief. They need to gain closure, to experience release, to look to their new future.