Part 3: Coping with the Loss of A Child
Coping with the loss of a child is debilitating. These are some things that helped me and my hope is they help you if you or someone you know is on this journey
Before we get started with coping, I have two previous posts that you may want to read. I certainly welcome and appreciate any feed back you want to leave. If you are experiencing this, you know there are no answers that work for everyone (or anyone) so we just have to keep going.
Part 1: What Not to Say to Grieving Parents
Part 2: What You Can Do (or NOT do) for a Parent Who Has Lost Their Child
Living with the Loss of A Child
Dealing with the loss of a child is so incredibly difficult. I’ve been through many things in my life that were seemingly impossible to get through, yet here I am realizing that nothing compared to the loss of my children. I don’t know at what point one has gotten through the hardest point, it varies and just when you think you’ve gotten through it hits again.
While there are stages, it’s not a timetable and the stages jump around however they choose. We, as parents who have lost, will go from laughing hysterically to crying uncontrollably at any point in time.
We will get angry, really angry, at you (anyone really) for absolutely no real reason (i.e. you left a cup on the table or your shoe is untied) and there is NO way you will EVER argue sense into your side. This is part of coping.
Whether you (the non-parental griever) are right or not it doesn’t matter. We’ll recognize the silliness of our anger eventually, but while we are pissed is NOT the time to point it out. Trust me on that one!
This post is for those of you coping with the loss of your child. There are no words of comfort, I know because I’ve been there. I’m not going to say anything that even attempts to ease your pain.
What I am going to do is share with you some things that helped me. They didn’t ease the pain, take it away, or anything wonderful. They helped me to learn to cope.
I’m still learning, so I don’t know what or how to not need ways to cope. I don’t know if I will ever get to that point. So, these helped me. I had to, and still have to, force myself to do things to pull myself up from the depths of depression.
Here’s my Suggestions to Cope
- Learn to recognize when you are falling into the depths of depression. This is the first thing you need to do. Until you can recognize it, you can’t keep from going down into those depths.
- Once you can recognize it, force yourself to change your thoughts. Doesn’t matter how, or how many times it takes, just keep at it. I failed and still fail so many times trying to distract myself. Sometimes, it works and those times are worth it.
- Know and understand that coping (healthy coping) is okay. It’s not at all wrong. You are not forgetting your child, you are not disrespecting them, you still love them more than anything in the world. They wanted and would now want Mommy & Daddy (or whomever they loved) to be happy, so try to push away any feeling of guilt. You didn’t do it, you couldn’t stop it, and they knew how much you love them. If they look down from Heaven, they still do.
- It’s okay to smile, to laugh, and to find moments of joy. It’s a good thing. For me, I try hard to honor my baby and will find ways to honor my Princess (whom I just lost). I feel that while they may not be here to do good deeds, I can do them for them. Someday maybe I will learn to do them for myself but for now the good deeds are for my girls. An example, after I lost my baby girl I became obsessed with keeping a plant alive and recycling. No idea why, but it helped somehow.
- When you realize you are going to the pits of despair, get busy. Turn on some sort of noise that will not send your thinking to that depth and get your brain active. I craft, sew, write, read, or any other thing that I can to get my mind somewhere better.
- Find a support person. Someone who has experienced the loss of a child. Only they know that pain like you are experiencing. They know to listen without saying a word. They know when to shut up and when they need to pull you out of the pit. They are your best ally. For me, my shout out goes out to my Sister-In-Law who lost her angel just hours after she came into this world, then another later as well as Sarah from Journeys of the Zoo (you can find her story on her site which is linked). Also, special hugs to my friend who lost her little one before she ever got the chance to hold him shortly after my Cajun Queen left this world, we will miss you always Teddy!
- Consider join a support group. I didn’t and probably won’t, but for others that does wonders. They are a safe place to mourn with others who know a very similar pain. There are support groups almost everywhere. If you can’t find one in the paper or don’t want to go to one in person, there are online groups available.
- Form a healthy obsession. Mine was recycling, many people start to obsessively work out, whatever you can do to give you something else to focus on.
- At some point, start attempting to fake normal. Do normal things that you would have done before. Whatever normalcy you can add to each day is a positive step, even if it’s just taking a hot shower for the first time in 6 days. Small steps to normalcy will eventually enable you to continue living.
- Know that you will cycle through the stages for years to come. It’s okay to feel sad, it’s okay to feel angry, it’s okay to feel whatever you feel. Just don’t allow yourself to wallow in that feeling for too long. You’ll get to a point where you know you can’t do something or you have to get out of a situation, knowing that is great because it means you can remove yourself. Don’t feel guilt for that, just know that it is part of the process and go.
Stages of Coping
The acceptance stage is tricky. It’s a stage where you have to learn to sit down and feel your pain without it being debilitating. That time will come, if it isn’t here yet that’s okay. It’s been a year and a half and I still can barely look at her picture without bawling. I can’t watch videos at all.
However, I have them and always will so when I get to that point I will. I’m just not there yet, and that is okay. I’m coping, and right now that’s all I can do.
Are You Living or Just Alive?
I’ve learned there is a huge difference between living and being alive. I’ve always been alive, but for a long time and sometimes still, I wasn’t always living. Go out and try things to bring joy into your life. Go out to dinner with friends, family, see a concert, whatever it is that you enjoy, find a way to start doing it again.
Even if you have to force yourself at first. It’s okay to feel sad they aren’t there, to think of them being there, to honor them. However, if you don’t eventually start living again you will end up stuck in those God Awful Pits.
We were not and are not meant to stay in that state. No one wants that, and regardless of what you say if you are new to loss and are reading this, you don’t want it either. Coping is not a choice. How you are coping is.
I hope that this and the other posts help you in your time of grief. I greatly wish no one ever had to experience this. Unfortunately, wishes aren’t helpful. I’m living again. Mostly. Coping. With the loss of my Princess so recent, I’m a little numb right now. That happens with grief and I am prepared to spend some time feeling my pain as I attempt to get back on my journey of healing.
This post was inspired by and written in Loving Memory of my Cajun Queen and My Princess. Two amazing and beautiful daughters whom I love so very much. Until we meet again, I will carry you both with me in my heart, always finding ways to honor your memory. Enjoy Heaven.
I miss you so very much. I always will.
Beat Depression One Moment At a Time
How One Girl Overcame Her Anxiety & Depression
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