July is Bereaved Parents Month

I didn’t know it there was a month for this but this statue definitely captures the grief of having lost a child.

The artwork above is called Melancholy by Albert György & is on display in Geneva, Switzerland. It’s pretty magnificent. Shows that hollow that never seems to be filled, doesn’t it?

I will say my hole felt that big at first.  Thankfully, it doesn’t feel that big now. But losing a child is not like other losses because it’s out of order. Children are not supposed to die before parents. And it’s not something you get over but a process of learning to live without the one you love. I get a number of searches by parents looking up “want to kill myself after the death of my child.” As many as 1/3 parents want to kill themselves after loss of a child. That’s how devastating it is.

If you’ve lost a child, please, please, please get support. You can’t avoid this grief. And you can’t be scared of the pain you just have to learn to tolerate and manage it.

The two most important things for grieving parents are:

1. Support – Find support resources here

Support because after that memorial service, many of your usual friends and even some of your family will avoid you and leave you alone at first with the excuse that you must want to be alone. Never mind no one ever asked you what you wanted. They don’t want to imagine this loss, they feel your loss too much when you talk about it and they avoid you because they can’t fix this. That makes people uncomfortable. It’s agony watching someone you are close to hurt so much.

That’s why support is so crucial. You want to talk, need to talk or you will explode. Not having support can result in your resorting to unhealthy coping skills such as drinking too much or getting overly angry with children, not sleeping and so on.

You need to level with family and friends and let them know what you need. Being abandoned can make you angry but keep in mind it’s not personal although you feel it.

2. Coping strategies

You have to have some. I used writing and running. That’s why there are well over 900 posts on this blog in the two years I’ve had it. It’s how I worked through things–my anger, my hurt, my resentment and more.

Running because I needed that physical pounding and sweat and by the end of a run, I would find a sense of peace. Most of the time. Not all the time. Starting out my whole body felt like it weighed a thousand pounds.

My husband starting hiking by the river with his dog.

So start by listing or searching healthy coping strategies. Identify negative ones. By relying on the negative ones you are actually prolonging your grief and making it worse. Let’s say you rely on drinking or eating too much. Is it better the next day? By avoiding or numbing your feelings with a substance you cheat yourself of developing a health coping strategies.

You can’t heal if you can’t feel. And there is no way to do this without emotional pain. That is part of the healing process.

If you have lost a child and you’ve read a good book on grief, please leave your suggestions in the comments for other parents. It can be specific to a cause of death. I need to add that to the resources page. I appreciate your helping your fellow angel parents.

Early grief after loss of a child

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 my book, Diary of a Broken Mind, will be published in the fall. 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. Professional Speaker Website

18 thoughts on “July is Bereaved Parents Month”

  1. Thankyou for this post Anne, I am yet to overcome the loss of my mother and I lost my FIL just a 2 months apart…I could not resist from commenting, it easier said than done that with time we forget and move on with our everyday life, everydayhealth . I think parents are just not replaceable how ever they maybe, I have been lucky to have wonder parents and PIL.

    1. I don’t think we ever get over it. It changes us and we learn to live with the loss. But there is no fixing it. I am only now really learning to cherish memories but I still cry three years later and I always will have those moments. Now it’s my link to my loved one. The grief is. My only connection. So grief is connection and love.

  2. Hi , I’m Janet! I’ve lost 2 children in this 1 life time of mine! Our daughter Amanda died of leukemia in 1995, today July 16 is her birthday and our son jus died on May 10 due to a motorcycle accident! Our world is jus shattered! As well as our hearts! I can see the good lord taking 1 child but 2, I have little faith left!

    1. Oh Janet I’m so sorry. Lloyd lost two children, too. Same goes for my friend Joanna who lost both children and her husband died by hanging the day she lost her second son. Lloyd’s post is here: https://annemoss.com/2017/10/21/grief-loss-child-can-tear-family-apart/ If you wanted, I could ask him if he is willing to connect.

      That is so devastating. Did your son die this year may 10? If so that is very recent and therefore your loss is still very raw. I understand how your world could be shattered. Let me ask you this, do you have support, or go to a support group? How can I help? If you want help finding a group, please tell me city and state. You would be at higher risk of suicide yourself so please take care of yourself.

      And please tell us about your children. We want to hear about them.

      1. Yes this may 10,2018, just 2 1/2 weeks before his death we lost my mom, his Grammy! No I’m doing a support group yet but I am looking into it! It’s still too soon, I went when we lost our daughter though, it did help! Now we only have our daughter Shannon left, she’s a recovering herion addict she s been clean for 2years n 4 months, she has a 3 year old boy and expecting her 2nd baby in February. I have no intentions of hurting myself, but thanks! Thanks for typing with me! My husband n I are going to order Nathan’s headstone today! 🙁☹️😢😢

  3. I miss my daughter every day. Istill get chocked up speaking her name. She was my everything.Life goes on but it is not the same.

    1. You are right Judy. Life is not the same. How long ago did your daughter die? Tell me more about her. Her age, what she looked like. Here on Emotionally Naked, we want to hear all that. I do know how you feel. My life is not the same since Charles’ suicide. I’ve had a rough day today and it’s been three years now. But the grief has softened for me. The edges of my grief are not as sharp as they used to be.

  4. Hey AM, where do I find the statistic for the 1/3 of parents? No one has ever told me that, and I thought I was worse than most.
    Wonder if there’s a statistic for bereaved parents of only children?

    1. I can’t find the 30% specifically. I learned it at the AFSP conference during one of the presentations. I will try to track that down. I don’t think there is a specific study on parents of only children but it would be a good study to conduct and figure out that risk factor. I know Logan was Tamara’s only child and it has impacted her in different ways because of that. This study does mention something related to that. https://jech.bmj.com/content/59/5/407

      One in three persons with a previous psychiatric diagnosis experienced suicide, deliberate self-harm or psychiatric illness within the first year of bereavement.
      Source: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/wps.20422

      “Your children are your legacy. They are your contribution to the future,” Loder tells WebMD. “If there is any grief that you live with for the rest of your life, it is the death of your child.”
      Source: https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/news/20050323/losing-child-increases-risk-of-mental-illness#1

      Research from Denmark has shown that the loss of a child increases a parent’s own risk of dying, with the risk of death for mothers increasing fourfold in the first years following the event.Now the same research team is reporting that the risk of mental illness is much greater among parents who have lost a child. And once again the risk was greater for bereaved moms than dads.
      source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2841012/

  5. Ok that wasn’t your request. I have four books I bought very early. Chasing Death, Suicide Among Gifted Children, Autopsy of a Suicide and The Suicidal Mind.

  6. Wow. That’s an unbelievably accurate representation. Mine was that big continuously for 22 months then began to close some. A grief milestone. But during bday and deathday it opens all the way back up. It did that this past Friday for Daniel’s 3rd bday since he died. It’s just now today closing back down but I will always have a hole that fluctuates in size. During the in-between times I can more voluntarily open and close it more as time goes by.

  7. Excellent book on grieving the loss of a child is Bearing the Unbearable. Can order on Amazon. Best book I have read on the subject of living with the grief. ..to honor your child and the endless unconditional love you have for him or her.

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