You are not alone...
The members of The Compassionate Friends all felt what you are feeling now in our own different ways. We understand some of the pain you are feeling right now. While we are truly glad that you have found us, we are also profoundly saddened by the reason. We know that you are trying to find your way in a bewildering experience for which no one can truly be prepared. Whether the death of your child was sudden or expected, you are unlikely to be prepared for it. The death of each child is unique, as are the reactions of each family member. However it feels as if all of your life has drained from you in an instant.
As you set out on continuing to live with your loss, the future will initially seem bleak and you may feel you will never by the same again. You won't be. You will be a different person to the one from before, however you will survive.
There will be changes in the relationships between members of your family as each individual deals with the loss in their own way. Try to understand and accept these changes – dealing with the feelings involved is the key to surviving.
Bereaved families all experience many different feelings such as disbelief, sadness, loneliness, fear, anger, regret, guilt, despair and personal loss. These feelings are all a part of the emotional reaction called "grief".
Sometimes feelings of grief may be so intense that parents do not understand what is happening. Some parents tend to keep feelings inside, while others are able to express their grief easily and openly. There is no 'right way' to grieve. We are all individuals and all had our own special relationship with our child.
When a child dies, the family mourns and begins the process of bereavement. This process includes physical sensations, emotions and behaviours that may be different to anything you have experienced before. Here are thoughts on some of what you may be experiencing or feeling:
- Your memory has suddenly become clouded. You're shrouded in forgetfulness.
- You fear that you are going crazy.
- You find there's an endless loop in your mind, running through what happened.
- You find your values and beliefs are constantly questioned.
- You place impossible deadlines on yourself but find that it is difficult to function effectively or efficiently.
- You feel hollow as if something is missing from you inner soul.
- You feel emotional pain as if someone is stabbing you in your heart
- You feel great sadness even depression and feel that everything important to you has been taken from you.
- You hate that you are still alive and didn't have the choice to die instead of your child.
- You yearn to tell your child of your love or thoughts left unsaid.
- You find yourself filled with anger, whether it is at your partner, another person, God, yourself, and sometimes even your child for dying.
- Guilt becomes a powerful companion as you blame yourself for the death of your child. Rationally you know that you were not to blame—you most certainly would have saved your child if you'd been given the chance.
- Other emotional experiences include anxiety, fear, overwhelmed, helplessness, bitterness, betrayal, frustration, and resentment.
- You cry often, sometimes to the point of finding it hard to breath. Tears will come when you least expect them.
- Grief can transcend into the feeling of physical pain.
- You have problems sleeping or sleeping too much. You feel exhausted even when you have slept.
- You disregard your health and taking care of yourself
- You experience anxiety and panic attacks.
- The tears come when you least expect them.
- Your appetite is either gone or you find yourself overeating.
- You can experience breathing, digestive, cardiovascular, and menstruation problems.
- You find it hard to accept family and friend support and do not understand or even get angry with them when they tell you things like; "I/we understand", "time will heal", "be strong", "try and be happy", "you will get over this", "you will get closure".
- You may not want to talk about your child to anyone due to the pain it brings, yet that is what others around you will want to do.
- You may take actions that concern other people, while making you feel comfortable.
- You find yourself being suddenly overprotective of any surviving children, not wanting to allow them out of your sight.
- You feel like a bad person because it's so difficult to focus on other family member needs when you're hurting so bad yourself.
- You find that searching for a common ground with grief amongst the family is difficult to find.
- You may find relationships in the family are fraying including the parent's relationship with each other.
- Some friends seem to fade away.
- Things you liked to do now seem meaningless.
- Fleeting thoughts of pleasurable activities bring about feelings of guilt.
- New friends come into your life who understand some of your grief because they've been there themselves.
Remind others that you are allowed to grieve and that sometimes there is nothing anyone can do except to be there with you. All newly bereaved need reassurance, empathy, permission to grieve and time. There is no time limit on grief; one has to learn to live with it.
Some of the conditions we face can become quite serious and The Compassionate Friends recommends you seek professional medical help with your physical / mental well-being and keeping safe.
While all of the above is different for everyone, at times it will seem as if you can't go on and face the world - this is where The Compassionate Friends has a role to play. Our members understand what you are going through, they live this life and can provide peer support on ways to deal with your grief. We offer support, friendship and hope for the future. Please use this website for some support resources but more importantly please contact us as there are support groups all around NSW willing to help and support you. Please refer to our Chapter locations for your closest support groups.
We will be here as long as you need us. Even though you are newly bereaved and the road is long, you are not alone and we invite you to walk with us for as long as the journey takes...