Healing: The Grief of Losing A Child
The loss of a child is probably the most devastating experience in any parent’s life, and the feeling of loss does not ever truly dissolve completely with the passage of time. The grief and loneliness that overwhelms parents can cause some to wonder how they will survive a life without their child, and these parents may experience some of the deepest forms of agony wondering whether they raised their child right, and if they did or didn’t do anything to have inadvertently caused or allowed their death to occur. Numbness, shock, disbelief, denial, and fear are common emotions, which impact each person differently.
We Were All So Happy
A close friend of mine was expecting her first born after many years of waiting for the opportunity to have a child, and word spread throughout the community once she learned that she was pregnant. We were all so happy for her. Before the birth of her baby she shopped for clothing, cribs, and everything else that she could think of in anticipation of her new arrival. As a close friend, I began knitting clothing with beautiful colors and designs in order to welcome her child into the world, and these gifts were truly woven from the heart.
My friend works in a hospital that is near to my home, so we visited each-other frequently, and a few days before she delivered she told me that she would call me as soon as the baby was born – We were very close with each-other. On the day of delivery I kept my mobile phone nearby as I awaited the good news, and she called me in a state of ecstasy to explain that she had delivered a new baby boy. A few minutes later, a neighbor came and told me that she had recently learned that the baby is somehow unwell and, before I could even tell anybody the news, I learned that he had died in the hospital.
My friend went into labor for a prolonged period of time and plead with the doctors to provide her with a C-section, but they refused. By the time they succeeded in the delivery, they were both exhausted, and that’s when they called me. The medical staff soon noticed that the baby was weakened, so he was placed on life-support and soon died while in intensive care. We took my friend home. Leaving the hospital was devastating. She had just given birth to a child and began to experience the first release of powerful bonding hormones, which wed her heart to the child without any equivocation. Her return home brought an incredible sense of overwhelm and loss. Moreover, she waited for that child for 20-years, and now she was not certain that she would be able to conceive again due to her age.
Bereavement is an experience that is accompanied by frequently changing and intense emotions that range from sadness to despair, anger, denial, guilt, anxiety, fear, depression, and others. These intense emotions may overwhelm the parents and cause mental confusion as they struggle to understand what is happening with them. My friend felt each feeling differently – There were times when she cried uncontrollably, especially when people allowed her to open up and receive their love and compassion. She would also break down when she saw others holding their own children, welling up with grief and love. Anything could trigger these overwhelming feelings of grief– TV shows, specific phrases or images, anything. Although she sometimes she seemed to have recovered from her loss and feeling better, she often wanted to be alone with her feelings. However, she eventually she began talking about the child and what happened during in her experience, where sharing her feelings with others helped to heal the wounds of her loss.
The most important aspect of her recovery from this loss was talking about her feelings with people who would listen – Family, friends, therapists, clergy, and parents who had gone through similar experiences. We encouraged her to do this no matter how much it hurt, which helped her to slowly heal and recover. The healing was not instant, and it occurred over a long period of time. However, during her turnaround she spoke with a physician who told her that she could one day conceive again and give birth to another baby, which provided her with a brighter vision of the future.
She eventually gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, and when we see that she is happy once again we know that God has wiped away the tears from her eyes. She is now very talkative, and she helps others and encourages people wherever she goes. Although she has walked through valleys of despair and mountains of pain, she has found her peace, which she shares with others. She is currently a very hands-on person who works in hospitals and children’s homes, and her most recent vision is to start a children’s home and help those who are at a disadvantage. This is how my friend dealt with incredible grief and overcame this challenge through creating new life within her womb and living a life in which she is contributing to others.
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