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

AnneMoss Rogers

AnneMoss Rogers is a mental health and suicide education expert, mental health speaker, suicide prevention trainer and consultant. She is author of the Book, Diary of a Broken Mind and co-author of Emotionally Naked: A Teacher's Guide to Preventing Suicide and Recognizing Students at Risk with Kim O'Brien PhD, LICSW. She raised two boys, Richard and Charles, and lost her younger son, Charles to addiction and suicide on June 5, 2015. She is a motivational speaker who empowers by educating and provides life saving strategies and emotionally healthy coping skills. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now that's the legacy she carries forward in her son's memory. Mental Health Speakers Website.

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

  1. I used the word “softer” in my writing last night. Survivor is the only word I can think of today.

    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.

  2. 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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