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.
Help and support after the death of a child
Someone looked at this website the other day and commented that, if you didn’t know better, you wouldn’t know I was in the military. I never intended to keep this a “secret.” Mainly separate. But how much can you separate of your core identities?
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.
Sometimes I think we can get caught up in the idea of a new year being a fresh start. We look forward to everything being different on 1 January. But will it be? Are we leaving this pandemic and the rest of our lives behind us? Or do we carry these things with us into each new day?
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.
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.
In addition to the Adrian’s Elephant Store on Spreadshirt, there are a number of other artistic businesses supporting bereaved families.
3 years, 3 months ago, Adrian was born silent into this world. This year, in my year of outreach, I am shouting his story from the rooftops.
There are many professional organizations committed to pregnancy education, preventing pregnancy loss, and supporting families after loss. This is a list of more than 60.
Reading other people’s experiences made me feel less alone after Adrian’s death. These are more than 70 blogs and Instagram accounts about child loss and grief, with descriptions.
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.
While I hope you will join Sea Glass Parenting on Facebook, I have also scoured Facebook for other groups related to child loss and grief.
I understand your intentions in wanting to take away my pain. It’s hard to see someone you love hurting. It’s hard to acknowledge there’s nothing you can do. What I need you to understand: (My) pain has a purpose. It speaks to the love I hold for my child. In seeking to take it away, you take away my love as well. You take away ME.
Humans are hardwired to find points of comparison. It’s how we build community. It makes us feel less alone. In some cases, though, comparison feels minimizing. This is especially the case in loss. This is something to say instead.
When someone you love is in pain, it’s natural to want to comfort them; to reassure them that everything will be okay. Unfortunately, when you are dealing with permanent changes like death, sometimes this simply isn’t the case.
Fathers Day 2020: Gentle wishes for bereaved dads on Father’s Day. May the Day be Kind.
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.
Of course you can imagine. You look down at your living child and the possibilities rush over you. You imagine everything, and it terrifies you.
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 have heard some people say that stillbirth isn’t preventable. And that’s a hard subject for me, because while some deaths just happen, Adrian’s didn’t have to. There were warning signs, and while they were minor, they shouldn’t have been dismissed.
Many people told me I was “strong” when I was deep in grief. I think it’s meant as a compliment. It doesn’t help, though. I don’t FEEL strong. I feel broken. This life isn’t a choice I made, like running a marathon or getting a PhD. It isn’t something I prepared for and overcame. It simply happened.
This is quite possibly the darkest thing I’ve ever written. Please note that the following screenshots are simulated tweets. This is the timeline of an event that never happened.
I’m not actively suicidal, but this is the beginning. This is the in-between stage; this is where it starts. This is what it looks like when someone is crying out in pain and the entire world tells her, “You’re strong; you’re fine…Simply because I’ve decided you’re not allowed to be anything else.”
This year has been hard for me, but it’s been a clean kind of hard. Most people understand grief is a thing. Most people understand pain surrounding death. I don’t think most people understand what happens afterwards.
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.
I fight against happiness. I think that if I let myself smile, I will lose sight of my grief. I will lose him. Again.