Advice For Grieving Parents

It might help you to know that…

The death of your child will hurt more than you could have imagined and your life will change on emotional, physical and spiritual levels.

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You can get though it to the other side and still be able to live a meaningful life…but it will take time, patience and effort to heal your devastating loss.  I know it may not feel like that right now.

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You are living out one of most people’s greatest fear.  This is why some of your closest friends or family might be acting standoffish or even disappear.  They don’t mean to be mean or neglectful, but it doesn’t hurt any less.  Many times they want to be there for you but simply don’t know how.  However, if you let them, there are people in your life who can be there for you, champion you, stand by you and will not be afraid to talk about this or go through this fully with you.

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Making connections with those who have suffered the same loss you have and have come out on the other side can be especially helpful. This will help you know that you can survive this yourself. It will also give you the gift of freely sharing your experience with someone who you know will understand.

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You will be stretched as a couple and grief will test your relationship in new ways.  One reason is that you will most likely grieve in different ways and the grief experience will be different for each of you.    Practice accepting each others styles of grieving and coping.  Avoid thinking the other person isn’t suffering because he/she doesn’t appear to be grieving.

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One surprising feeling that parents of children who died feel is guilt for episodes of “not crying.”  Just because you enjoyed a conversation, a day, a moment, a comedian, your other children, your work, a friend, nature does not mean you are not grieving.  You can enjoy something or someone and still be grieving.  Allowing yourself to experience life alongside your grief is exactly what you need to balance the pain of grief.

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It’s okay to have sex.  This relates to the point I just made about enjoying things. You need intimacy right now and making love is one way to fill that need.  And it’s okay not to have sex.  You may not feel like it right now and that is completely understandable.  One of you may want to have sex and one may not and that can change from day to day.  Even if you aren’t having sex, make sure to expression you affection through holding hands, hugs, putting your arm around the other or just sitting together.

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Taking care of yourself and each other is a requirement during this time.  Consider it as important as brushing your teeth each day.  There is a lot of talk about self-care, but I encourage you to actually do at least one thing each day that promotes well-being (such as exercising and eating delicious, healthy food), helps you relax (such as practicing meditation, taking a nap, breathing deeply, and getting a massage) and even though you may resist this, do something that brings you pleasure (such a being around safe people who accept you unconditionally, going out to dinner, shopping, watching your favorite television show, dancing, or going to a game).   Encourage each others to do self care.  Remember, doing these things does not mean you are not grieving and it will help provide the stamina for the difficult times.

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Reference: Worden, W. J. (2005).  Grief Counseling and Grief Therapy

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Elizabeth Kupferman is a counselor in Southlake, Texas (Dallas/Fort Worth area) dedicated to helping women overcome depression, grief, and anxiety so they can find happiness and achieve their dreams.

Creative Commons License "Advice For Grieving Parents" by Elizabeth Kupferman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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