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
I used writing and running. That’s why there are thousands of posts on this blog since 2015. It’s how I worked through things–my anger, my hurt, my resentment, sadness 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 (link to free ebook on coping strategies below). 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 out of developing healthy 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.