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Editor:               Sonya Marvel
Contributors:   The Members of My Parents Are Survivors

We have lost the child we love. We never realized that we could hurt so much. Their death is one of the cruelest blows we will be dealt in life. We will eventually accept (nor forget) the loss of our child. How can we cope with the loss? Grief and a sense of loss will always be there. After our children die, we feel numb, as if a bombshell has been dropped on us and we can't breath. We find we are unable to make decisions. We're confused and forgetful during normal conversations. We may outwardly appear calm, but we are anxious inside. We may experience symptoms that make us ill, such as nausea and headaches. After several weeks, we try to return to some normality in our lives. We move around as if we are anesthetized, trying to work and clean out the belongings of our loving children. We look normal, but we are dying inside.

Then the bottom falls out and we feel the depth of our pain. We feel alone and afraid. We think our lives will never be the same. We may also start to feel guilt, as if we have let our children down. Maybe if we had acted more quickly things would be different. We fear there is no possibility of being happy again. We feel misunderstood.

All of these feelings, and more, will come over us, and they are normal. How long we feel them and how long it takes us to find answers is up to us. Accepting the loss and plodding through the grief process takes time and work. When we emerge at the other end, we will feel the loss, but with more peace and the knowledge that we can carry on.

We see our children as our future. Children are a reflection of us as a parent. They were our dreams for future generations. We often feel we can not go on and would rather escape the pain. We wish that we could give up our lives so that our children could live.

Tips for helping us

List, say little
Avoid cliches
Be there for the long haul, not just the funeral
Include us in the first holidays after our children's loss
Remember the anniversary of our children's deaths in a special way ~ a phone call, card or flower
Love us
Accept us

Talking to friends and relatives about our loss is healing. We need to go on remembering our children with someone else who also loved them. Reading books about grief, facing the pain by being quiet and thinking, and talking to our clergy help us. We seek professional assistance if depression, feelings that we don't value our own lives and a sense of total despair prevail. If we don't grieve, years later our life can be out of control and we need to go back and face our children's death. Professional help can move us along the road to acceptance.

All of the above is how our family and friends can help. When we grieve the loss of a child, we grieve in many stages. For the newly bereaved parents, our grief begins with disbelief and shock. The shock turns to rage and anger working through to passive acceptance in our hearts. Mothers and Fathers grieve deeply although in different ways and stages. The stories each of us have to tell are different, but one goal. We will have periods of loss of your appetite, overly eating and the most prominent is sleeplessness. Some of us dream about our angel children, while others are unable to dream about them. Nightmares are constant and sometimes this will lead to sleeplessness.

At first our friends and family are there for us in every way to help us through the single worse event that could ever happen to us. Eventually, our friends and family go away; at which time the loneliness begins. We try to live our lives in a somewhat normal way, although we are dying a slow death inside. Our friends and family want to help us through this, but they do not know how. Some of us want to be left alone while others are afraid to be alone. So we begin to try to educate our friends and family on how to identify with the pain that is in our hearts daily. Some feel that by not talking about their child, it is easier than seeing us in pain. WE DO NOT NEED THIS! We need their help. Talking about our angel children is the best way to keep our children's memory alive. We do not want others to forget they existed! Our children lived…they existed…and it is up to us to help our friends and family to understand how we feel. This can be a small task in itself! "Yeah, right, I am the one who has lost my baby! Why should I have to tell people how I need to be treated?" You tell them because that is what YOU need! Not only because you need to talk about your child, but also because you want your child's memory to live on.

I know it is hard to believe, but your pain will lessen. You will never forget, but you will carry your child in our hearts increasingly. Guilt is a huge factor in the grieving process. What if I had done this or what if I had been there? The guilty you feel will stay with you until you learn to forgive yourself. The anger will remain until your heart is settled. So what if you feel like screaming? Do it! Scream at the top of your lungs if that is what you feel like doing.

I invite you to share in telling of your experiences. Please Email me. I will put together all of our comments to share each month. We will continue this study together with each of our experiences. Further below will be the subjects we will be discussing in the coming months.

Just for Today for Bereaved Parents
By Vickie Tushingham

Just for today I will try to live through the next 24 hours and not expect to get over my child's death, but instead learn to live with it just one day at a time.

Just for today I will remember my child's life, not his death, and bask in the comfort of all those treasured days and moments we shares.

Just for today I will forgive all the family and friends who didn't help or comfort me the way I needed them to. They truly did not know how.

Just for today I will smile no matter how much I hurt on the inside, so that maybe my heart will soften and I will begin to heal.

Just for today I will reach out to comfort a relative or friend of my child, for they are hurting, too, and perhaps we can comfort each other.

Just for today I will free myself from my self-inflicted burden of guilt, for deep in my heart I know if there was anything in this world I could have done to save my child from death, I would have done it.

Just for today I will honor my child's memory by doing something with another child because I know that would have made my own child proud.

Just for today I will offer my hand in friendship to another bereaved parent, for I do know how they feel.

Just for today when my heart feels like breaking, I will stop and remember that grief is the price we pay for loving, and the only reason I hurt is because I had the privilege of loving so much.

Just for today I will not compare myself with others. I am fortunate to be who I am and have had my child for as long as I did.

Just for today I will allow myself to be happy, for I know that I am not deserting my child by living on.

Just for today I will accept that I did not die when my child did, my life did go on, and I am the only one who can make that life worthwhile once more.

Most of you know that I am very much into Victorian graphics and history. I found an interesting article I would like to share with you. Most of you will probably read the information below of Victorian conventions with modern eyes. Try putting yourself in these people's place for a moment. Victorian mourning customs were regulated by elaborate formal rules.

The Etiquette of Grief

Death was such a common occurrence in the Victorian era. So many children died. So many women died in childbirth, so many adults from what are minor ailments today. The only way to cope with the thread of sorrow that ran through almost every life was to control it with customs, traditions and conventions. Concentrating on formal rules and the regulations directed grief into safe channels until the healing process was completed. The customs served people well, though I grant you some of them were a bit absurd.

It was not uncommon to find photos of the deceased family member in an open casket in the parlor of a Victorian family's home. It also was not uncommon to send copies of the deceased in an open casket with the funeral notices to friends who lived too far to come to the funeral, or with the cards sent to acknowledge flowers. Some of your important funerals were by invitation only.

Some Victorian homes could have contained boxes decoupaged with photos, magazine illustrations and invitations. It was filled with memorial notices, mourning rings and funeral brooches. The brooches were made from the hair of the dear departed. Close family members sometimes wore brooches like that during the first year of mourning. The bereaved desperately needed something to occupy their time and thoughts.

When a close family member died, many women went into full mourning for an entire year and it was not just by their clothing. The calling cards and stationery of a family in mourning were all edged in black. The depth of the border indicated how closely you were related to the deceased. Some ordered cards and notepaper with a deckled black border a full inch wide and would use the full year along with her clothing of black. Some felt that it was more conventional to wear their black clothing for three months, move to black and white, then gray, and finally to lavender. If the Victorian griever had lost her husband, she could remarry after a year.

Most of the Victorian families who had lost their loved ones would serve food to several hundred of their closest friends and acquaintances after the service.

Shock

Shock and numbness protects you from the impact of the death for awhile. You may have feelings of disbelief, denial, anger, despair, apathy, depression, hopelessness, self-doubt and guilt. Behavioral patterns are crying, searching, sighing, physical symptoms, loss of appetite, sleep disturbance, muscle weakness, limited concentration, inability to make decisions, emotional outbursts), restlessness, impatience, poor memory (lack of concentration), social isolation, and loss of energy.

In crisis, we need to talk things out in order to refocus our interpretations. We cannot get through the mourning process alone. It is important to reach out during the first four months when motivation is high.

Denial

Denial is a process of not allowing feelings to come to the surface. Denial is a reaction, which distances the grieving person from the loss, thereby protecting you from being overwhelmed by emotions.

Some people may experience disbelief at hearing about the death of their child. They may believe that our child should not have died. They may have difficulty imagining life without your child. "They were too young." "They were too good." "They were too healthy. "I can't survive without him or her." All of these are common reactions.

Guilt

Whether rational or not, almost everyone who looses a child will experience guilt. Guilt begins with "I could have, I should have, if only I'd have..." Guilt because we feel there is something we could have done to change the outcome of loosing our child.

Anger

Anger, which may be experienced at being let down by your child who died or when you are looking for someone to blame for his or her death. A significant loss can threaten your basic beliefs about yourself or about life in general. As a result you can feel anger not only at a person perceived as responsible for the loss, or at God or life in general for the injustice of the loss, but also - in cases of loss through death - at the deceased for dying.

Anger is very common following the death of a child. You may find yourself angry at a situation, or just angry at the world. You will often find that you take out this anger on those closest around you. You do not choose to be angry, but you can choose how to express it. Try talking to the person you are angry with. Tell them why you are angry. Talk out all of your feelings about that person or situation. Understanding your anger is the first step toward dealing with it. Scream to the top of your lungs, hit a pillow, and kick the bed, if it makes you feel better! Exercise is also a wonderful stress reliever.

Depression

Sometimes feelings of numbness, shock and denial go on longer than the first few weeks. Although it is common to experience some of these earlier symptoms for time to time, it is not good to have these symptoms constantly. Be sure to have at least one person that you can discuss your feelings with, a family member or friend, a support or bereavement group. Talk to your doctor about how you feel, and perhaps seek a counselor for further treatment. Call a crisis hotline if you ever feel that you may consider suicide.

Loneliness

At first, when you lose your child, there are more people there for you than we ever thought. It was somewhat a comfort yet, there were times when we really needed to be alone without thoughts and tears. Our friends and family want to be there for us through the worst ordeal we can ever go through. Then when the funeral is over and our friends and family and gone, we welcome the quiet and sedate time we can have to grieve our child. After a while, we begin to feel the loneliness. Then our thoughts turn to being lonely and needing our friends and family. We need to talk to them! We need their support. We need to talk about our child. Then most of our friends and family begin to avoid us because they just do not know what to say anymore. They don't realize that we need to talk about this over and over again; we need to at times repeat what we have previously said to them. We need them!

Fear

When you loose a child, there are a couple of fears that haunt you daily. At first, we are afraid to leave the house. We are afraid to leave that safe haven we call our home. If we stay inside then we are safe.

The second fear is ~ you are afraid it will happen again ~ that you will loose another child ~ or someone close to you. A death in the family is so new to you, grieving is so new to you that you begin having dreams about loosing another loved one. You begin to be a little over-protective of your other children, which is alright. Chances are your other children will cling to you more than usual.

Panic Attacks/Anxiety

After the loss of a child, you have a very low tolerance. You could be susceptible to Panic Attacks, difficulty sleeping, or sleeping constantly, headaches to name a few.

When a panic attack strikes, most likely your heart pounds and you may feel sweaty, weak, faint, or dizzy. Your hands may tingle or feel numb, and you might feel flushed or chilled. You may have chest pain or smothering sensations, a sense of unreality, or fear of impending doom or loss of control. You may genuinely believe you're having a heart attack or stroke, losing your mind, or on the verge of death. Attacks can occur any time, even during nondream sleep. While most attacks average a couple of minutes, occasionally they can go on for up to 10 minutes. In rare cases, they may last an hour or more.

Health Beat
Overcome Your Panic and Anxiety
Panic Disorders
Season Of Peace
What Is A Panic Disorder?

Suicide

There are two perspectives on our discussion of Suicide.

Part One - The suicide of one's child raises painful questions, doubts and fears. The knowledge that your love was not enough to save your child and the fear that others will judge you to be an unfit parent, may raise powerful feelings of failure. Realize that as a parent you gave your child your humanness — your positives and negatives — and that what your child did with them was primarily your child's decision.

Part Two - It is not uncommon for bereaved parents to have suicidal thoughts. Suicide is not inherited; however, the suicide of a family member can have a profound influence on others in the family. Be patient with yourself and them, and seek professional help and family counseling if necessary.

When we loose our child, we grieve deeply and constantly. There is a constant reminder to us that our child is gone. Although we deny this at first and continue to hope and pray that our child will walk through the door or call on the phone any moment, eventually we come to the reality that our children will never return. We begin to feel this is too much. We can not handle this finality of loosing the child we have loved unconditionally. We feel we want to be with our children. We have to feel the same feeling they felt when they died. Suicidal thoughts begin to enter our minds. We can no longer live this horrible day to day grieving and loss. We begin to plan our own death. Some are scared, yet some welcome the opportunity to be with our children again.

What can we do to live through the worst tragedy that we can ever endure? Unfortunately, some succeed in suicide. Others come to the reality "I can't do this. I can not put my family and friends through what I went through. I need help!"

Our family and friends hear this from a lot of bereaved parents who get so tired of the hurt. It frightens the parents that they are entertaining suicidal thoughts, but it is a normal reaction for some to consider this as an alternative. Many parents, as they speak, are quick to agree that they are too responsible to really consider this as an answer to their problems. They realize that there are people who love and need them, and that they could not purposefully put someone they love through the very hell they are seeking to escape. They are able to realize that suicide is not an answer.

Should you have these thoughts and you are not able to put them aside, please, it is imperative that you seek professional help. Don't put it off!

Dreams/Premonitions
When Our Child "Visits"

The response we received from this subject has been overwhelming. In fact, we are beginning three pages of experiences from our members. This is an important subject which is close to our hearts.

Our children appear in our dreams or appears to have visited us by leaving small tokens or ideas. Others have never dreamed about our angel children. Some of us are *visited* by our angel children through dreams and premonitions in order to let us know they are watching over us and they are doing okay. They have something they want to convey to us, as parents. In our minds this is our children's way to help us get through the loss of not having them with us. Dreams are an important part of our lives, almost a third of which are passed in sleep. Dreams may be one of the mind's ways to maintain sanity and to cope with life. We dream about our ambitions, our hopes and fantasies, our expectations, our worries.

Sleeping/Not Sleeping

At first when you lose a child, sleep is out of the question or we tend to sleep too much! Sleep is short and interrupted. Sometimes you can dream about your child, while others have never dreamed about their child. You are usually on medication to help you through the emotional part of the senseless death of your child. Yet, sleep will not come! Some can sleep, but within minutes wake up with nightmares. Then it's impossible to get back to sleep. Some struggle through it and finally get to sleep for a few hours until morning, when it is then hard to wake. Some turn to aids to help you sleep. This can be dangerous. What are the answers? How do you handle sleeplessness or sleeping too much?

Moms -vs.- Dads

It is a known fact that parents grieve deeply for their child and most days the grief is very different for each parent. For example, on one day the Mom may be grieving deeply and missing her child so much that she aches, while the Dad may be feeling angry. On another day, Mom may be in denial but Dad might have reached an acceptance. Perhaps one day Mom is feeling guilt over the death of their child, but the Dad doesn't want to discuss that because he is aching over the loss. Many times people misunderstand that the grief process is so individual, and parents can not be expected to be simultaneously going through the same stages at the same time. This can lead to one or both parents feeling as if their spouse doesn't care or is not grieving as deeply as he or she is.

Grieving differently is very common and in a lot of cases, will eventually end in separation or divorce. This is a very touchy topic in that a large percentage of parents who are grieving deeply end of hurting each other. The key to parents surviving their death of their child is respect for the others' feelings. Education of how parents grieve differently is very important if your marriage will survive.

Our Other Children

Most parents who loose a child have other children to consider. Some put up a front in order not to upset their children. They tend to not talk about the child they lost because they don't want to upset their other children. Unknown to most, your other children are hurting, too! They need to talk about the loss of their brother or sister in order to reach closure. Good communication with your remaining children is very important to the family who is grieving. Good discussions about how you feel and listening to your other children's thoughts can be very important to the healthy welfare of your family. It is important to answer ALL of your children's questions, no matter how much it hurts. Chances are this will help in your healing process. If you don't know how to answer your child's questions or how to verbalize the answers, tell them you will find out or will think about your answer for them. Please don't forget to go back with an answer to their questions. They won't forget.

Good Days and Bad Days

At first when we lose a child, it seems each day is endless and our live our lives by putting one foot in front of the other in order to make it through the day. It seems to go on day after day. We seem to have more bad days than we do good days. If we dream about our child and wake up with those thoughts on our mind, we may sit on the edge of our bed and cry. The rest of the day seems to be a bad day of thoughts of our child and wanting the child so badly to come back. Then as time progresses we begin to have a good day periodically. We live one day at a time and thank God that we made it through the day and pray that we make it through the next day. Days such as this will eventually turn around for us. Just keep living our life one day at a time.

Hey! What about the Dads?

Dad not only has lost a child, but he is the one person who has to keep his family together and be strong for them. He is hurting, yet his wife is also hurting. He wants to cry, but his children need his strength. What about your feelings of hurt and devastation? When is it my turn to grieve for my child?

Religion

 Religion could play a major role in your life now. You may be a very religious person who depends on God to take care of your child, since you can not. I thank God every day for taking care of my child and to please let him/her know that I love and miss them very much. You may attend Church Services and feel closer to your child because you know God has control of your child now.

On the other hand, you could feel anger or blame God for taking your child and for your suffering. God did not cause your suffering. He suffers with you.

When Is It Okay?

By Terri

A recently bereaved parent said to me the other night. “I laughed today and I felt guilty.” His son was needlessly murdered just a short six months ago because the cash register his son was responsible for held no more than $20.00

I didn’t know quite how to answer him. My son was murdered just over two years ago and I still occasionally feel guilt when I revel in the joy of being in love, or the beautiful sunset, or laugh with new friends, or chuckle at one of the myriad of jokes my son’s friends and I tell about him.

Because I laugh and joke and tease about what my son may or may not be doing now, others are sometimes appalled at what they perceive as my lack of respect for those no longer with us. I long ago stopped trying to explain that it is not a lack of respect for my son or anyone else. It is rather a stubborn refusal to become defined by death and an acknowledgment that my son would be making the same irreverent jokes about me. Laughter is healthy. Humor is therapy. They are simply another coping mechanism.

Some days I cannot stop crying - not necessarily on birthdays that no longer are or death days that loom.

I have no idea why. Some days I can’t cry - even on those non-birthdays or horrid anniversaries. There is simply no rhyme or reason to it, just as there is no rhyme or reason to why we have to outlive our children.

When is it all right to cry? Whenever we feel like it.

When is it all right to smile and laugh? Whenever we feel like it.

When is it all right to feel guilty because we cry or laugh - never!!!

We cry because we hurt, because we are human, because we love and miss our children. If we start crying in the middle of a grocery store because we see a special on his/her favorite cereal - so what? I don’t know about others, but I am long past caring what strangers think.

We laugh because we can sometimes see through the dark clouds and remember our children’s laughter.

We laugh when we remember the silly things they used to do. We laugh because we can hear their voices saying, “MOMMM, you’re embarrassing me again.” We laugh because our children taught us how and because they would never forgive us if we stopped laughing and enjoying life.

I miss my son terribly. I will always miss my son terribly. I would gladly trade my life for his, if I had that choice. When I laugh, it does not mean I miss him less than others miss their children. When I smile at simple joys like thunderstorms, it does not mean I am “in denial” about my son’s death. When I cry, it does not mean I am no longer coping.

Never be afraid to express your emotions. Never feel guilt over finding humor or joy. After all, losing a child means never again having to say you’re sorry for anything you do.

Terri’s son and only child, Patrick, was murdered in Mexico in May of 1996 at the age of 22.

Terri is also a single parent.

~lovingly lifted from the Alive Alone Web Site
TCF Atlanta Sharing

Please let us know your thoughts on the subject "When Is It Okay?"

Grandparents' Grief

You child has lost a child! You have lost your grandchild, but your child needs your support. You grieve for your grandchild as you watch your child hurting. You feel so helpless as you watch your child cry and grieve for their child. You are hurting, too! There are even times when you are overlooked because most focus on your child and the hurt they are going through. You want to be there for your child, but you need support and understanding.

Getting Help

Sometimes in our lives we feel we have no control over our feelings or lives. The loss of a child can bring on these feelings. We walk around in a state of shock and disbelief. Did you ever feel you could not take control of your life and that the unknown had taken over your mind? If at any time you feel you can not get a grip on your feelings and that you just can not make it alone, please do not hesitate to get help. You can contact a support group of your choosing or see a therapist. There are many good therapists in this world that are experts at helping people like us. There is nothing shameful in seeking help! If you choose a therapist or support group that is not helping you or is making it worse, please change therapists or support groups. There are very good resources that can make a difference in your life. If you have been through this, please share your experiences.

Acceptance

It seems each of our days are filled with loneliness and despair. Yet there are some who say, "Do we ever achieve acceptance over the loss of a child?" We will never get over the loss of a child, but eventually we will see the acceptance come into our hearts.

It takes at least 2 full years or more of mourning your child in order for you to feel any relief. Please don't make any major decisions until you are ready. One morning you will wake up and be thinking about your child. You may cry your heart out. Then you may say to yourself, "I can't do this anymore. I am tired of being sad. My child would not want me to be this unhappy." Ways to turn your thinking around is to think only positive thoughts. We're not saying this will be the case daily, however, positive thoughts counteract negative feelings in the course of your day. Strive to keep your thoughts positive. If a negative thought creeps into your mind, try to turn it around to something positive. Eventually you will feel your child within your heart. It may be hard to believe now, but it will happen.

Happy Remembrances

At some point in our grieving process, we have happy remembrances of our children who have died. We learn to carry them in our hearts more and more. We still miss our children so much. What happy remembrances and cute stories do we have of our children? This will conclude our series on Grieving Within.

Copyright/Disclaimer

This has been written by the members of My Parents Are Survivors to help us to get through the worst time of our lives. Every word of this information and feelings is copy written by the writer. That means that you can NOT use this material in any way, shape or form. Please do not ask, because permission will NOT be given. This has been written from our hearts and will not be duplicated.

Main Menu  |  Descriptions  |  Shock  |  Denial  |  Guilt  |  Anger  |  Depression  |  Loneliness  |  Fear  ]
Panic Attacks/Anxiety  |  SuicideWhen Our Angel Visits  |  Sleeping/Not Sleeping  |  Mom vs. Dad  ]
Our Other Children  |  Good Days & Bad Days  |  Hey! What about the Dads?  |  Grandparents' Grief ]
Getting Help  |  Acceptance  |  Religion  |  When Is It Okay?   | Happy Remembrances  ]
[  Do's and Dont's of Grieving   |  Gentle Wisdom ]


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Changes last made on: Thu Jul 09, 2009