Notes from Janice Zitelman, MSW, LCSW and Lindsey Parker, MA, LPC-Associate on the unimaginable loss of a child
*Lindsey Jackson, LPC-Associate, supervised by Celeste Inman, MEd, LPC-S, RPT-S
There is an old country western song sung by Moe Bandy that seems to express the dreams and expectations of all parents:
Let me watch my children grow to see what they become Oh Lord don't let that cold wind blow till I'm too old to die young
While the singer is hoping his own death will not come soon, he obviously places much importance on being able to watch his children grow and mature. The death of a child either through miscarriage or in the early years is the death of many dreams. When a child ceases to exist, a parent must endure one of the most devastating experiences they will ever go through. No longer can one hold their loved baby. There can be no exchange of hugs, kisses, and laughter. So many anticipated events will never take place. There is no opportunity “to see what they become."
On Coping with this Unique Loss:
It is important to take time to mourn. Glossing over a death and moving on to other activities will not erase the hurt. The searing pain may be pushed aside for a while, but it will return with a crippling vengeance.
Share out loud with caring communities. Often one finds it almost too difficult to speak of what has happened. However, in sharing with those who care, the burden can be lightened a bit. If one can speak of the loss it will help to bring some healing. If you have had to experience the loss of a child consider what support is available and grab hold. Perhaps someone you know has experienced a similar loss and is willing to listen. No one will ever have the same experience as you but someone with a similar situation may provide some insight that is useful. Consider joining a support group. Sharing your loss with others who have had similar losses can help bring healing.
Include Continued Memorialization Individualized to YOU. Marking the date, naming the child that has died, and having a small service or ceremony can be helpful. Whether it's a "Celebration of Life" or a more intimate time, personalize the way you want to remember this special child. If you are a person of Faith, lean on your Faith and your Faith community.