The Andre Scott Foundation, Inc. 
There is no greater grief like losing a child, especially through a violent act.

WHEN A CHILD DIES

The Death of a Child

The loss of a child is one of the cruelest blows that a parent can suffer. It is an out-of-order process that brings consuming pain and grief. Bereaved parents do not ever get over the death of their child. They should never be expected to snap back to the person they once were. The death of a child is not an illness from which a parent can recover. It is a life altering change that parents must learn to live with. Bereaved parents are forced to do what they see as impossible. They must learn to rebuild their life without their beloved child. There is no opportunity to prepare, resolve misunderstandings, or “say good-bye.” Life for the parents and siblings is changed forever, often in an instant, and it takes time for the reality of what has happened to sink in.


Shock

This is often the body’s first response to news of a sudden death. The shock presents itself much like a blow to the “core of one’s being.” A paralyzing sense of the surreal may be present, even allowing the immediate family to almost function normally, to go through a memorial service in relative calm, and to seem unable to express their grief in any visible way. This is part of the body’s natural defense mechanism, and it can take days, and most often weeks, for the bereaved to comprehend emotionally what has happened.


Allow your self to mourn

Your child has died, you are now faced with the difficult, but important, need to mourn. Realize your grief is unique, unlike  no other. Your grief journey will be influenced not only by the relationship you had with your child, but also by the circumstances surrounding the death. As a result, you will grieve in your own unique way.  

Accepting the Reality

Grieving the death of a child is a long, arduous journey. There are no time frames, no guidebooks or directions through the process. As the reality of the death settles in, intense anger at the injustice and deep anguish at the realization that the loss is “forever” are normal. Anger might be focused on those responsible, on God for not saving the child, or on anyone or anything. There are often yearnings to be with the child. Discussions with other bereaved parents and siblings can help the newly bereaved to understand they are not alone and they are not “losing their minds.” Many families say that one of the most difficult things is to see the world go on when the child or brother or sister is gone. So it is important to find special ways to remember. These remembrances can be as simple as including the child’s name often in conversation, telling stories about the child, making a special memory album, or even holding special family memorial gatherings to remember and honor the child.


Reorganization and Reinvesting in Life

While each person’s grief is as different as the individual, through this process the family learns to live without the child and the emptiness this absence brings. Complete recovery is a myth. Bereaved family members gradually put their lives back together again, but never truly “get over it.” They will never have the same lives they had before. The family “unit” is changed forever. There is a place at the table forever unfilled. Families need both short- and long-term support when the death of a child comes suddenly. 


The hurt slowly changes from intense pain and a focus on the death event to warmer memories and a commitment to lead lives in honor of the dead child and in a way that would make that child proud. Some people create memorials, set up scholarships, or become advocates to correct injustices related to the death. These are all constructive, representing some “good” that can come from the tragedy.

 

















 

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