I wish there were the right words for loss of a child

Years after the death of a child, things are not ‘better.’ What I mean is that ‘better’ is not the right word. The grief is in shorter bursts and it’s more tolerable.

For example, I’m able to move forward most days. I’m able to laugh. But I want a word that sort of means better. And there isn’t one. ‘Less intense’ might be a good description but that’s still not quite right. ‘Easier’ is not it either. None of those really describe the process and what’s more, they minimize the experience.

There’s also no word for being the parent of a child who died. When a spouse dies, men are widowers and women are widows.

Survivor is a good word. You have survived the death of a child by suicide. You have survived the death of a child to accident. You have survived the death of a child to disease which could be cancer or addiction. You are still here and living your life as best you can.

Survivor is an awfully general word, though. Because ‘survivor’ could mean you have survived drowning when your boat sank.  It does not describe the very specific and humbling pain of losing a child.

I have adopted the phrase ‘angel mom.’ But what about the dad? Is a dad who lost a child, an ‘angel dad?’

Is there no official word for it because it’s so unnatural to have a child die before the parents die?


How did I end up in this f—ing club?

Published by

Anne Moss Rogers

I am the mother of two boys and the owner of emotionally naked, a site that reached a quarter million people in its first 18 months. I am a writer and professional public speaker on the topics of suicide, addiction, mental illness, and grief and currently working on getting a book published. I lost my youngest son, Charles, 20, to suicide June 5, 2015. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now the legacy I try and carry forward in my son's memory.

5 thoughts on “I wish there were the right words for loss of a child”

    1. I actually think either is fine because there is no perfect word. I struggle with that and I think we all do. Everything I say seems to minimize this journey. I think what speaks volumes is the amount we have all written here in both our stories and our comments.

  1. This post really made me think. Is this why those of us who care struggle to find the right words to express our sympathy? Because its not supposed to happen and I’m afraid I’ll say the wrong thing. Just know I was shocked and deeply saddened when I first saw your post about Charles, and I’m still sorry and I still care. I know the precious place he holds in your life will never go away.

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