by Jody Davis, Cache Valley Mortuary
Sometimes, we experience losses that shake us to the very core. We wonder how we can make it through, especially in the event of losing a child due to an illness or accident. Some early emotions include shock, numbness, confusion, disbelief and denial. It has been said that these emotions serve as “cushions” against the full impact of our loss. Over time, these emotions may subside, but others, like guilt, anger, loneliness, regret, sadness or despair may come. The intensity of these feelings may be so strong that it is difficult to fully comprehend everything we are experiencing. It is vital not to attempt the journey alone. We need support to work through the myriad of emotions.
The aforementioned emotions are normal and natural. Difficult, seemingly overwhelming and almost unbearable, but they are normal. So, how do we “normally” work through this grief? How do we embrace the fact that others have experienced what we have? And, how do we work through the highs and lows of this journey?
First, you need to realize that there will be peaks and valleys. The lasting effects of a loss last longer than society or those around us may recognize or appreciate. Because everyone is different, each journey is unique in many ways, yet there common threads many experience with the loss of a child. There hope, peace and understanding can be found. It is important to learn to do what is right for you versus what is expected from others.
Another key is in realizing you will not “get over” it, but you can get through it with help , patience, time and support. Be patient with yourself and others. Everyone will be trying to make sense of it the experience in their own time and in their own way.
Many bereaved parents will, in their own way, attempt to work through feelings of guilt and regret. Many may feel they should or could have done more to prevent the loss. In sharing feelings, you can come to a place to forgive yourself or realize there was nothing you could have done to prevent your child’s death. It still hurts.
With this hurt you may become angry, wanting to blame someone or even God. However, it has been stated that anger is a secondary emotion. Therefore, what is the first emotion? As we identify that “first” emotion, and work through it, we may turn anger from someone or something, to positive efforts to change laws, build foundations, raise money, fund scholarships and many other things to bring about positive changes to help others. This is healing, powerful and life changing. The greatest change will be within.
Through all of these changes we may still, at times, feel despair and loneliness. That is where support groups, family and understanding friends can help . Often, support groups provide us with comfort and insights from those who have experienced what we have. Initially, these groups may take you out of our comfort zones, but they can have an amazing effect on our lives for years to come.
In an attempt to find comfort, you may wish you could be with your child. That is a normal and natural desire. However, if you begin to desire to take action on those feelings it is vital to get professional support immediately. Realize that your child would only want the best for your. They would want to make sure you are happy and safe.
Finally, as you work through this maze of emotions, you may experience physical or spiritual changes or challenges. If you allow yourself to discuss these changes and work through them, you will emerge healthier and happier in the long run. Some may wonder, “Will I ever be happy again?” “Will I ever sense that life is good again?” The pains you feel will soften. If you can tell your child’s story you may find healing in doing so, we will find peace and happiness again.
During this journey to healing, seek resources that are available to help guide you through this difficult time. One such resource is The Compassionate Friends organization. You are not alone.