Age doesn't matter
Myth: The younger the child/baby, the less intense your pain should be.
Truth: It may be true that society grants us less of a right to grieve for
infants and stillborn babies, however, the truth is that the love of a
parent is not contingent upon the amount of time we had with our child.
Love simply cannot be measured in time. Some may try to "prorate" our
grief. That is, if a ten-year-old dies, it is worth "x" amount of pain...
if a one year old dies, it is worth "y" amount of pain... if a one day old
dies, that is worth only "z" amount of pain. It seems ridiculous to
bereaved parents, doesn't it? Consider this: Would it be easier to bury
your child when you did or would it be easier to bury them one year later?
It is an impossible question to answer. There is no easier time, no lesser
pain. It is horrible whenever it happens.
Get over it
Myth: It has been six months, you should be over this by now.
Truth: You will never "be over" this pain. The pain never completely
leaves. We will grieve our entire lifetime for the child we should have
with us. When others think we should have gotten over it by now, they are
confusing the significance of the death of a child with an event of much
lesser significance. You get over the loss of a job, a broken bone or a
friendship gone awry. The death of a child, at any age and from any
circumstance, is a life changing and tragic event that will never be
forgotten. You will however, eventually learn the skills necessary to
assist you in dealing with the pain. Day to day life will never be "normal"
and may never feel the way it used to, but time does help to ease the pain.
Pills and alcohol
Myth: Sleeping pills, antidepressants or alcohol will help to get you through this pain.
Truth: Some parents who take pills or use alcohol after the death of their
child, eventually realize that they may have been postponing the
inevitable. Grief is hard work. Physically exhausting and mentally
draining, it is. But I compare grief to a loan. We must all pay back the
loan to the rightful owner... eventually. The longer we wait to pay the
money back, the higher the interest rates and penalties. Accept and embrace
the depth of the grief as a normal reaction to the most difficult
experience a human could endure.
Have another baby
Myth: Another baby is the answer to the grief.
Truth: Your deceased child's life is worthy of all the pain you feel. While
another child will fill your empty, aching arms, it will never replace your
other child. Allow yourself time to grieve your child. Do not rush
yourself. Another baby may add more pressure on you, your surviving
children, your spouse and your new child. Be cautious not to venture into
an unprepared pregnancy, too soon after the death of your beloved child.
For more information on how to recognize when you are ready for a
subsequent pregnancy see MISS' Cherish Corner.
Get on with your life
Myth: You need to forget your child and go on with your life.
Truth: Many people will ridicule you if photographs of your deceased child
are placed in your home, if you still attend support group meetings or if
you memorialize your child years after his or her death. Your faithfulness
to your child's memory is to be commended! Do not let others discourage
your gift of dedication. The truth is, twenty years after the death of
Elvis Presley, the whole country stops to recognize him with candlelight
vigils in Grace land. The event is televised worldwide on CNN and every
other news station and television station in the country. This is a
completely acceptable practice which millions of Americans, young and old,
partake in. Yet, the same communities would have grieving parents
questioning their own sanity when they chose to participate in an event,
quietly memorializing someone far more important in their life- their own
child. Remember your child. Do not let others determine what is right for
you. Remember and do not be ashamed!
Back to your old self
Myth: You will soon become yourself again.
Truth: You probably died with your child. You may have remnant pieces of
the former self remaining; however, you are unlikely to become exactly who
you were before. Get to know who you are once again. Your child's death has
changed many things about you and you will need time and patience to
reacquaint yourself with the new person you have become.
Myth: Support groups are for weak people.
Truth: The death of a child is the most isolating and lonely event in a human's life. Many grieving parents say that friends become strangers and strangers become friends. The reason for this is clear. How can any one else possibly understand the depth of this pain if they had never experienced it before?
An analogy I like to use is related to weight loss. Let's say I struggled with obesity all my life and finally made a decision to do whatever I needed to lose weight and become healthy again. Courageously, I check myself into a weight loss clinic. However, the mentor and counselor assigned to help me through my struggle with weight is 110 pounds and a size three, and she has never been overweight a day in her life. How in the world is she going to understand my pain, my struggles and my fears? She never can. It is unlikely that I will even feel comfortable relating to that person.
Support groups are a safe haven for parents to go and share the deepest of
their pain with others who have experienced the same feelings. Many support
groups are full of strong and compassionate people who are dedicated to
helping newly bereaved parents find hope and peace in their life.
Myth: I am going crazy.
Truth: Every parent who has gone through the death of a child, feels as if they are crazy. The vast array of emotions can overwhelm us. Many of us feel emotions we never knew we could feel. It is frightening and shocking. The usual routine of day to day life suddenly annoys us. We feel out of place even amongst the closest of family and friends. We cannot attend baby showers or birthday parties. We may feel too weak and drained to get out of bed in the morning. Once enjoyed activities become dreaded tasks for us. Some parents are unable to perform at work, while others may become completely absorbed in their jobs as an attempt to escape the pain. Some parents express that the grief has become so unbearable, that they prayed God would take them while they sleep. It is a roller coaster ride. Some days we are able to laugh and feel joy again. While other days there seems a black cloud hanging over us the entire day. Who wouldn't feel crazy while undergoing all of these many emotions?
You aren't crazy. You are a grieving parent, simply missing what should
have been in your life. Be patient and kind to yourself. While the longing
for your child will never disappear, time grants us moments of peace in
between the tidal waves of pain. Allow those peaceful moments to bring you
closer to your child's love and the gifts they have left for you to discover.