Bereavement of a child is like a pebble in a pool, it’s ripples reach from the core of the family mum, dad siblings and grandparents to extended family and friends. Also, for those who have had daily contact with our families. It’s important to recognise that there is a million different ways to grieve there are no rights or wrongs. Grief affects us all in different ways and no two people will ever have the same feelings and emotions.
Many counselling theories speak of the stages of grief that we can experience, some of you may experience all of them and others may only experience a few. These stages are not rigid, they are fluid and you can flow backwards and forwards through each of the stages on your grief journey.
The stages are often described as
- Denial: “This isn’t happening, this can’t be happening,”.
- Anger: The anger may be aimed at objects, doctors, strangers, friends or family or your child for leaving. You may feel guilty for being angry too.
- Bargaining: You may be experiencing thoughts of “If and could and should have”, ‘If we had sought medical attention sooner, should we have had a second opinion, could we have done anything more’.
- Depression: There are two types of depression associated with grief. The first one is sadness and maybe regret. You may worry about how your lives have changed due to the loss. You may worry that, in your grief, you are not spending time with your family who are also dealing with their own grief. The second type of depression is more private. It is the deep sense of the loss of our loved one and that they are no longer here.
- Acceptance: Eventually, for most, some form of acceptance is reached. We know and accept that our loved one has gone and cannot return.
Acknowledging that living with grief is normal, for some it never goes away. The intensity of grief may decrease but the feelings of loss of your child may always be there, being aware that at times those feelings of intense grief may surface at times when least expected and ease again like the waves on a beach crashing and receding.
Grief is something that you eventually learn to live with never forgetting always loving but living your life too.
Keeping memories alive
Families often look at different ways to keep their child’s memory alive
- making a memory bear
- making a photo album of special memories
- raise money in their memory, charity event etc.
- Planting a tree, a memory plaque on a park bench
Supporting those who are living with loss
Avoid the statements of
- Time is a great healer
- Telling someone how they should be grieving
- Telling someone that it is time to move on
- I understand how you feel
Be there to listen; common sense and kindness go a long way.
There is a lovely quote by Henri Nouwen “The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of confusion or despair, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not healing, not curing, that is a friend indeed”
Help to get you through these difficult time
Rett UK can provide bereavement support through the family support team, local support groups and the contact network. They can also sign post you to specialist counselling services.
In addition, your local GP practice will be able to offer counselling services and if needed, medication to help get you through the difficult times. Other organisations that may be able to help are:
Links for further support with bereavement:
- Child Bereavement UK: Provides support to families, children and professionals, when a child of any age dies. Support and Information: 0800 02 888 40
- Child Death Helpline: A free helpline for anyone who has been affected by the death of a child, however recently or long ago. Helpline: 0800 282 986 / 0808 800 6019
- Cruse Bereavement Care: Cruse provides support after the death of someone close. Find out how get help for yourself or for a child by reading our articles, or contacting us for telephone, email, or face-to-face services. National helpline : 0844 477 9400 firstname.lastname@example.org
- A Child of Mine: Provide information, support and guidance to families after the death of a child. Helpline; 07803 751229
- Compassionate Friends: Provide support for family members following the death of a child. Their helpline is open every day of the year. They also offer sibling support. Helpline UK: 0845 123 2304 Helpline Northern Ireland: 0288 77 88 016
- Child Funeral Charity: The Child Funeral Charity can help families with the cost of arranging their child’s funeral. Please contact Rett UK if you would like help with your application. You can also call the Child Funeral Charity to talk about any aspects of arranging your child’s funeral. Telephone: 01480 276088