In conjunction with two beautiful therapists, Mary from Sarah’s Heart and Diane from Diane Biggs Psychotherapy, this latest post is a compilation of frequently asked questions about therapists and therapy, specific to the child loss experience.
Support After Loss
When I was new in my grief, there were a number of situations where people said or did something and I wanted to respond, but I just didn’t have the words. Now that I am further out, I have put together a set of potential scripts to use in these situations.
On 28 June 2017, I was 6 days overdue. It was the height of summer in Texas, and I blasted the AC in my home. I lay down on the couch and watched my son kicking and moving in my belly. He was so active that night! By the time I woke up the following morning, he was dead.
As a supervisor, the most important thing you can do when supporting a military member after the loss of a child is to understand this loss is significant. Regardless of planning or length of gestation, your military member has lost much more than a pregnancy; they have lost an entire human being.
I think we are all familiar with the golden rule, but one of the most powerful things I have ever heard was to follow the platinum rule: treat people how THEY prefer to be treated. The words we use matter. And if you can’t say something kind, or supportive, maybe don’t say anything, at all.
Do you ever find yourself in a “go go go!” pattern, and then suddenly realize you need a break? This is definitely true for me. It’s been a great month, and some days I have felt overwhelmed. I’ve also felt pretty darn thankful. You guys are an amazing community. I feel thankful for all of you.
I realize, when I look back at these moments with pain, that the thing I wanted least to know, was the true value behind the relationships that seemed valuable to me. Because it wasn’t what I thought it to be. And that kind of knowledge is quite hard. The death of my son taught me who people in my life really were, and that is knowledge I would rather not know.
It’s been commonly noted that the English language doesn’t currently have a word to describe a parent whose child is deceased. I choose the term, “Sea Glass Parent.” It acknowledges both the Broken and the Beauty in my life. It’s a metaphor, and also a piece of unique beauty on it’s own.
The loss of any child is a shock, and no less of one when the child is not your own. This is how to support a loved one after the loss of their child.
Two big influencers lost children this year. In the wake of heavy criticism of their public grief, I wrote this piece in defense of sharing photos and talking about our beloved deceased children. Today, that story was published in Scary Mommy.
One of the best means of support for bereaved parents and families is finding community with others in the same situation. This community can vary across different types of experiences and also through personal preferences such as religion. This post is a compilation of more than 100 Facebook groups providing online support to grieving parents and families.
Planning the funeral for a baby who died before, during, or shortly after birth is a difficult process. Not only because the death of any child is heartbreaking, but also because logistically, the typical funeral service isn’t geared towards honoring the briefest of lives. This post is a comprehensive list of choices and options in planning a funeral for your infant child.
If you have the resources, attending a retreat for parents, couples, or families who have lost children may be a valuable way to devote time and space to your child and your grief.
Our children are not shameful. They are beautiful, real people. In my opinion, the only shame comes from the perception that they should hidden away. I will never stop sharing photos of my deceased child, simply because he IS my child.
Grief is awkward, and when we talk to the bereaved, we often want to say anything at all just to fill the void. Here are some things to avoid.
I think people are conditioned to tell bereaved parents it isn’t their fault because they are worried. If parents blame themselves, what might they then do?
Three years ago, I would have said suicide was cowardly. I didn’t understand, then, how quickly life can change. Suicide may not be an ideal answer, but I better understand the complexities behind the issue now. Awareness isn’t enough—suicide prevention starts with understanding.
I had trouble getting out of bed this morning. I have trouble finding motivation, sometimes. These days feel uncomfortably familiar. I wonder if I’m regressing.
I won’t lie to you, it’s going to be hard. You may dream about him and wake up sad. You may find you can’t dream about him and that makes you sadder. It’s okay if you want to hold on to things, and also if you want everything to change. There is no right or wrong way to grieve.
There’s something that bothers me about this common sentiment of “keep going” or “don’t give up”. It’s sometimes used as a means of silencing those with genuinely dark feelings, instead of listening and being a true help. When someone is feeling suicidal, they need more than simple positivity.
I feel more attuned now, to tragedy. It’s easier to recognize. I know there are things I should say. I should be present and strong. I would never ask someone in tragedy to be strong.
I call it a nuclear bomb. It’s a conversation ender. You meet someone, you’re making good small talk, and then they ask about your family. I will never deny my son. He is a permanent part of me. And so it happens — I tell them, “Yes, I have a child. He died shortly before he was born.” And everything stops. It’s no longer a casual conversation.
I want to wish you happiness, but I don’t know if you want that. I didn’t want happiness after the death of my son. It felt disloyal.
There was a time when I was broken. (I’m still broken). There was a time when I struggled to get out of bed. (I still struggle to get out of bed). There was a time when all of this was so much harder / more immediate. There was a time when I needed help with almost everything. But not all things. I still remembered how to eat and go to the bathroom. I still knew how to put on my own clothes.