Bianca Neumann, Head of Bereavement at national bereavement charity Sue Ryder (www.sueryder.org) says:
“The death of a child is an incredibly traumatic and distressing event for any parent. It does not matter how old the child is or what caused their death, the impact that this will have on the parents is always devastating, heavy and significant.”
“Losing a child disrupts the natural order of bereavement. When we think about different bereavements we may go through in our lives, we often think about our grandparents dying, then our parents, then us and then our children.”
School holidays in particular can be a very distressing time for parents who have lost their child, as this may have been a time that was spent together creating new memories. That’s why Bianca Neumann, Head of Bereavement at national bereavement charity Sue Ryder (www.sueryder.org) would like to share her expert advice on how to cope over the six-week summer holiday when you have lost your child:
1. Don’t be ashamed of normal emotions.
“When it comes to losing a child, feelings of jealousy, envy, anger as well as sadness are very common, but not everyone talks about them openly. These feelings often get pushed aside, and the remaining feeling is that of guilt or shame, as an inner voice labels these feelings as 'bad' when they are normal.
“Don’t place yourself under too much pressure to be ‘OK’. Emotions come and go and like waves, they can wash over us and seem overwhelming. Allow yourself to feel and experience your grief and know that in time, the waves will eventually recede.”
2. Talk about your child
“Grief can feel very isolating, but it is likely that other people around you are feeling the loss of your child too or have been through a similar situation. Talk about your child with others, light a candle in their memory, or do something with a loved one that reminds you of them”.
3. Focus on the positive time you spent with your child.
“Loss can often bring up feelings of regret. For instance, perhaps you feel like you could have spent more time with your child. Try instead to focus on the time you did have and how special that was for both you and them”.
4. Write a letter.
“Sometimes getting our feelings out on paper can help us to process the complex emotions we are feeling. Writing a letter to your child may feel strange but it is a way of validating your emotions and feeling closer to them, even though they’re not there with you.”
5. Find a support group
“When you are grieving, you may find comfort in talking to others in a similar position. This could be a friend who has also lost a child, or you could consider joining a support group, such as Sue Ryder’s Online Bereavement Community, where you will find that many other people are experiencing the exact same feelings as you.”
6. Remember to check in with friends
“Lastly, if someone you know is also grieving the loss of their child this summer holiday, remember to check in on them - people can find it difficult to reach out when they are grieving and it might be a great way to take your own mind off things too. Perhaps you can send a card or care package of their favourite things – maybe a mix of snacks for when they don’t feel up for cooking, some flowers or a game that they could play to take their mind off the holiday”.
To find out more about Sue Ryder’s Online Bereavement Support, visit sueryder.org/copingwithgrief