What to Expect After the Death of Your Child
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What to Expect After the Death of Your Child

How to deal with grief after the death of a child.

Mother's Day is bittersweet for me now. It's taken me a few days just to decide to write this article. Our third child was due on Mother's Day, May 13th, 2007. He died 17 weeks along on December 4th, 2006; at least that's when we knew his heart wasn't beating anymore. Our fourth child we call our weekend baby--a positive pregnancy test on Friday, June 1st and gone on Monday morning, June 4th, 2007. Here are a few things I've learned.

The stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance) are not really stages. They can come and go one at a time or all at once. I remember one day going through all of them and back again in the space of a few minutes. You can think you've gotten through one only to find it rearing its head a few days, or weeks, or even months later. Sometimes you don't even realize that what you're feeling has its roots in your grief. It took me awhile to figure out my anger at something was often just misplaced grief. I've also decided there is no such thing as acceptance--just the realization that there is absolutely nothing you can do to change things, and you still have to get up in the morning, make breakfast, get the kids to school, and live. Or maybe I still haven't reached that stage yet.

The English language sucks. I didn't "miscarry" my baby. I was carrying him just fine. I didn't "lose" him either. Maybe other people find comfort in euphemisms but I would rather say what it is: my child died. My children died.

Well-meaning people will say stupid things. Let them. Anyone who hasn't been through this really doesn't know what to say. They feel they have to say something so don't get upset and take it in the spirit that it was meant. Hope they never have to find out what it's like for themselves.

More people than you can imagine have been through this. So many couples came up to us and told us how they too had a child or children who died. Take comfort from these.

Going to some kind of group counseling really does help. But only go when you're ready. It took me almost a year.

Tearful moments may come when you least expect it. I was watching a group of high-schoolers singing Christmas carols on t.v. and a close up on one nice-looking young man had me crying so much I had to turn it off.  I kept thinking I would never go to my son's Christmas concert.

You will feel the need to tell your story over and over again, but you will probably not get as much opportunity as you need. I'm not very talkative, but I have a great urge to tell anyone I meet about my two babies. I restrain myself because I suppose it would seem a little weird, but they are a part of my family just as much as our three living boys. Any time you find someone willing to listen, take it.

There is a reason even if we will never understand why. If our two little ones hadn't died, due to timing, our son Francis (born May 19, 2008) would not have been conceived. It's weird and utterly unfathomable but for some reason this is the only way we could have all three.

Grief doesn't go away but you do figure out how to carry it more efficiently--like actually putting both arms through the straps of a backpack. It may seem easier to try to forget but just the opposite is true. It actually helps to think of my children everyday. My faith tells me they are in heaven, and I talk to them all the time. Just as I do with my other three, I try to tell them every day that I love them. I also wear two hearts with their names engraved: Edward Ignatius and Little Star.

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Comments (1)

I do understand how you feel Diane, you are not alone...