Six Things I Wish People Knew About Grieving the Loss of a Child

October 26, 2015

Grieving the loss of a child is a grief that is unique. It is a loss that is still largely considered taboo, and when someone experiences the tragic loss of losing a child, there are very few societal norms that can guide family and friends when their loved one finds themselves in the path of an unfathomable loss. I lost my daughter a year and half ago, and I still consider my grief to be very new. But it surprises me every time I meet up with a friend or see family, and their reactions to my pain. Here, I’ve compiled the six things I wish people understood about grieving the loss of a child:

One: Grief and Love are the same.
Please don’t think that because I am still grieving for my child even after all this time that there is something wrong me, or that I need to get over it. I grieve deeply for the loss of my child because I also love her deeply. Love never dies, therefore neither will grief.

Two: I will never get over it.
I may look like I finally got my life back together, I may have even gone on to have more children or embarked on a new career, but my child and the trauma of losing her is always one step behind. My tears may have dried, and I can probably utter my child’s name without breaking apart, but please know that I will never, ever get over the fact that she is gone.

Three: Silence is deafening.
I know it must be very difficult and confusing to know what to say to someone who has lost a child. I know how uncomfortable and unfathomable it must be to you, but please know that wrongly worded sentiments are easier to forgive than your silence. My world has forever been shattered, a simple “I’m sorry” will do.

Four: My child is irreplaceable.
It doesn’t matter when my loss may have occurred, whether it was an early miscarriage, or if I had the chance to spend a few moments with my child before she died. Babies are not interchangeable and any subsequent child born after is not replacement.

Five: I’ll always live in a parallel universe.
No matter how much time has gone by,  when an important holiday or occasion occurs, my mind is going to retreat into another universe where my child would have been present. I will calculate how old they would be and how they would look. This whole entire universe is something I hold on my own, so if you find me retreating inward during a significant day, please know that I am in that place that I share uniquely with my child and my imagination. It’s just how things are always going to be.

Six: I am forever changed.
The day my child died is the same day a big part of me died too. I won’t go back to being my usual innocent and carefree self again. It will take time for me to find myself, and return back home. But when I’ve figured out a way to put together all the broken pieces, I won’t look the same. Please understand that.

If you have experienced the loss of a child or pregnancy, what do you wish other people would understand about it?


    • Lynne

      October 26, 2015 at 11:53 am

      17 years down this unbearably tortuous road and it sill doesn’t feel any easier.Occasionally I can mention Henry’s name.Mostly,even the thought of trying to talk about him brings a tidal wave of pain and grief welling up.I know over the years I’ve embarrassed lots of people with my sudden transformation from animated,reasonably articulate woman into a jibbering wreck.For most people,the ones who have never experienced the death of a baby,the thoughts are “well,you did manage to have other should be grateful”.Sometimes not just thoughts but opinions voiced as if the words help.Not just for our darling Henry but for the 8 miscarriages beforehand. Our beautiful daughter,all 6 feet of supreme,16 year old confidence,was pregnancy number 14. Henry died at 3 months old after a mistake by the nursing staff who were preparing him to come home after lengthy and invasive treatment.Our brave little boy endured surgery and endless rounds of injections,investigations and procedures.He fought against colossal odds at times and shone through.He was entrusted to the Ward in order to allow us to get ready for his discharge in the next few days.Instead he suffered a ruptured stomach and died in our arms after his life support had to be turned off.One of the hardest things to live with is trying to envisage what he would look like now.Of our 2 surviving children,one boy one girl,Henry looked much more like Alice.Would he be very tall like his sister? Would he be close to his older brother?As easy going as George?Of one thing I am certain.If Henry had still been with us,life would be very different.I would be a very different woman.And my husband? Hard to tell.Very occasionally over the years his guard has come down and we’ve come together in our own private tragedy. Sadly, all too often I find him looking at me with a complete lack of comprehension.It never goes feels like an exclusive club that only a few belong to.If I could just see him one more time.

    • angelita

      October 26, 2015 at 2:09 pm

      yes my son was 14 and has been gone 19 years and i still grieve there are no words for us im sorry for your pain

    • Wendy

      October 26, 2015 at 2:11 pm

      Our Abi loved every day of her life until her life stopped at just shy of 20 years old. Every single day, I think of her – her laugh, her thought, that forever question of “what if” and “who would she be today”.
      As a mother, I miss her but I also grieve the loss her sister endures every day. I HATE what I watch her go thru every day as well. The tears, the guilt, the loss of her best friend, her “what if”.

    • Donna Markham

      October 26, 2015 at 8:24 pm

      I would like people to know that it’s alright to talk about my daughter. We lost her six and a half years ago to suicide. It seems that left some sort of stigma and people look uncomfortable when I bring her up in conversation. She had a disease, it’s called depression, and like other diseases it consumed her body and soul . But I remember the happy, always smiling daughter that was my best friend, the one that dragged me shopping and to the movies. I will never ever forget her and I don’t want others to forget her either. Forever 23 my baby will be!

    • Connie Wegner

      October 26, 2015 at 10:00 pm

      I lost my first grandchild a baby girl at 27 days old. My son was her father. 7 years later I lost my son to suicide. People do not know what to say when you’ve had horrific losses, sometimes that hurts as bad as the “get over it” crap. They don’t call or visit, because they don’t know what to say. The isolation this creates intensifies the grief that I carry forever!!

    • Connie Wegner

      October 26, 2015 at 10:00 pm

      I lost my first grandchild a baby girl at 27 days old to SIDS. My son was her father. 7 years later I lost my son to suicide. People do not know what to say when you’ve had horrific losses, sometimes that hurts as bad as the “get over it” crap. They don’t call or visit, because they don’t know what to say. The isolation this creates intensifies the grief that I carry forever!!

    • vickie

      October 27, 2015 at 12:21 am

      Been 25 yes still crying

    • laurel

      October 27, 2015 at 12:35 am

      Thanks for this article was right on . I lost my son just over a year and a a half now too, and I feel exactly the same, I have written things down so similar, thanks again

    • Dee

      October 27, 2015 at 4:30 am

      My second son grew his angel wings on the eve of his first birthday just over 16 years ago. When people ask how many children i have I respond with had 6 got 5. my EX husband always told me I was looking for “sympathy” and trying to “shock” people. But NO I just need him recognised.

    • Gloria

      October 27, 2015 at 4:43 am

      Thank you.

    • Stephen Derham

      October 27, 2015 at 6:35 am

      I lost my 19 year old daughter 2 and half years ago, 25/4/2013, she was visiting her boyfriend in England at the time. She landed in country on the Thursday, fell ill by the weekend and by Monday she was in hospital with Meningococcal Meningitis, a rare strain only found from Asia continent (very rare). I agree with the 6 points, it’s unfortunate that people think you will get over it, or can’t believe that you’re still emotional on special occasions, events or listening to songs that played at her funeral, songs she listened to as a child/toddler/teenager.
      It’s still very raw to me, even though the tears have slowed and happen rarely (they do happen). I live at the opposite side of the country to where my daughter lived (East Coast of Australia), I saw her 5 months before she died, hardly heard from her but that was ok, she was growing up and loving life and living it, seeing more of Europe than I ever will.
      Unfortunately people will not understand what or how it makes you feel, unless they themselves lose a child and God forbid that that does not happen.
      However respect those that have lost a child, let them have their moment, whether it be an hour or a day, offer a shoulder to cry on and an ear to listen with, let them speak of their loved child.

    • grace

      October 27, 2015 at 11:37 am

      How well I know this grief. It is definitely true as I feel all these emotions.

    • Joan

      October 27, 2015 at 1:03 pm

      A. People might not understand your behavior after losing a child. Educate the people you care about, and lose the rest.
      B. My daughter’s death was HER death, not mine. For me to not try to live a full life would be a disservice to both her life and mine. I must try to live fully.

    • Muriel

      October 27, 2015 at 3:02 pm

      One of my friends, British man, send me your experience.
      EVERY items are true, right and clear.
      Because I’m living the loss of my second love daughter.
      Every words are right…
      I wish you a peace in this univers…
      My daughter has got 13 years ago, suicided her at our home.
      Since 9 months,
      With my amities.

    • Tonya Bernitt

      October 27, 2015 at 4:01 pm

      Well said! Not only did I lose my son of almost 38 years! But he was murdered! For a few bucks! He had 4 children! My emotions go up and down! And I am absolutely drained! One thing I wish people knew, was that I don’t have a disease! I lost half my heart! But I feel shunned, ignored, and comments have been made about everybody deals with pain (just get over it, or they’re sick of hearing about my son!) I feel alone! And wonder where Love comes in the picture. A simple card, saying.. Love you, thinking of you! Would be nice! I received 1 card after my Son died! Non since then! Broken hearted in Indiana!

    • Nuala Doyle

      October 27, 2015 at 8:38 pm

      We lost our son Carl 16 to leukemia 25/10/2010 every word so true xxx

    • Cindy Francis

      October 27, 2015 at 9:21 pm

      I lost my son almost 3 years ago at the age of 23. He was in a car accident from texting and driving. I often go through in my mind what happened , if he had any pain, or what he was thinking..many things. I am able to talk about him without getting blubbery now. Most of my tears now are during alone times. He was my baby boy and always will be. So many things i dont want to get rid of or change because they remind me of him. They would seem silly to a lot of people but to those who have lost a child i am sure would understand. My life continues because life goes on. But not all of me goes on because i lost a part of me that day that will never come back. I dont know if any day will be different than today. I miss my son.

    • Tammy

      October 27, 2015 at 9:48 pm

      I lost my son 6 years ago. He was 19 years old. A part of me left with him that day and I miss him everyday of my life. I appreciate this article and agree with every word. I am blessed everyday with wonderful memories I had with my boy as well as vexed with wondering and imagining how he would be playing with his nieces and nephews. My face may smile but my heart is always full of sorrow as I miss my boy.

    • Deborah

      October 28, 2015 at 12:23 pm

      My first born son died of a brain tumor 17 years ago, yet it still feels like yesterday. The pain in your heart never goes away. Life goes on but never the same. Time is measured by before Joseph died at age 14 to after he died. I am dreading the holiday season !!

    • DeAnn

      October 28, 2015 at 6:50 pm

      I too have lost children, however I lost two a girl 49 in 2012, and my son this year at 47. Also lost my husbund 10 years ago but a child is the worse ever, but only other parents that lost children could know. It has been the worst experience of my life, my family is gone and I am having a very hard time dealing with it, I know time heals but when your whole family is gone, it’s a hard one to endure, my faith is not what it should be but I think it will come back in a matter of time. I have to start understanding what has happened, and know that it wasn’t something that I did that took them away.I guess I will have to wait for the healing to come knowing that it will. In the mean time God Bless my family as they are toghter..

    • Chris

      October 29, 2015 at 12:52 am

      Today is three years since we lost our son TJ, and our daughter lost her brother. He was 22 years old. I miss him everyday. As many of you have said I love to hear his name and talk about him. I worry about the memory of him fading from friends and family but understand they suffer a grief also at the loss of him in their lives. Without the strength and closeness of our families I don’t know how we would have made it through that first day, let alone any that followed.

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    • Alberta Hagerman

      November 3, 2015 at 7:37 pm

      Everyone’s hurt is so fresh, from one day to 50 years it really stays with you. There does come a time when you can talk about your child without crashing. I lost my son 4/2011, and then our adopted son six years later. I am fortunate to still have a wonderful daughter that sent this link to me. I talk to his spirit now asking why did you do this to me, but it is always with laughter since in understand “They” did not do this. Whatever journey they needed to follow, it was not one I choose for them. My journey is not one they choose. They were wownderful, beautiful men.

    • Danielle Schmoltze

      November 4, 2015 at 11:09 pm

      I lost my Sarah 1984. I still feel robbed of motherhood but I think of the 9 months she was my child. I do have all the thoughts many stillborn mothers have ,but I guess god had better plans! I still tear up when a baby cries, because I never heard my Sarah cry! You truly never get over it! The sad thing with me was I never was able to have a baby! Talking helps. and my love of animals! So never let someone tell you to get over it, because you never do!

    • Genevieve

      November 6, 2015 at 11:05 pm

      I lost my beautiful boy at 38 weeks I had no clue he had passed on until I went into labour after 12 hours of labour I got to spend a couple of hours with my beautiful boy but I keep my head up and keep thinking that he is In a better place and he is safe and away from the evil of the world I now have a 12 week old baby girl was a high risk pregnancy but I have my 2 beautiful girls and I know that my little boy is safe it is hard to loose a child but with the right family support and love of friends family and partner it’s easier yo overcome I always think about my little boy but I look up in heaven and think your safe and always loved even tho you are so far away

    • Carol H.

      November 11, 2015 at 10:46 pm

      It has been nearly 20 years since the death of my son. A memory returns and I’m right back in the time and place where we got the news. I’m so happy to live in a supportive community where others remember him and continue to share their memories of him as their paper boy, fishing buddy, classmate, coworker and friend. Just knowing others remember helps so much.

    • Mary Melton

      November 19, 2015 at 1:09 am

      My Son, Jack, crossed over 3 1/2 yrs ago, he was 23. i do live in a parallel world, i will always morn his loss, he was cheated! I need to here he does matter and i need to remind the world that he did live!

    • Jesse Overton

      November 20, 2015 at 5:52 am

      I wished the crazy myths & the ignorant uses of Bible texts would cease. Here are some I would like to dispel:
      This makes the top of the list because it is a completely false, ludicrous and even hurtful statement to one grieving the loss of a child. First of all, time is a measurement; not a power. If I lose my left leg and I wait long enough, will it grow back? I have actually met people who believed this and are either angry their grief has not healed and, therefore, ceased. Or they think “what is wrong with me that my grief has not healed?”. It saddens me to see people already under such a heavy load be burdened even more with hurtful advice. By the way: fellow believers in GOD – know this is not a phrase in the Bible.
      He wasn’t an angel, nor is he now. He is my son, the fruit of my loins. One man told me this statement made to him and then simply addressed it : “God is going to have her for eternity, right? So why can’t I have her for just one lifetime?!” Saying this phrase to comfort a grieving parent is actually presumptuous because we don’t know why.
      So the death of my son is a good thing?! Don’t think you wanna go there.

      Actually, the best thing you can say to one in such grief is : “I know your in pain right now and I won’t pretend to understand all this. But the one thing I can promise you is that I will be there for you. I will be your ear to bend. I will be your shoulder to cry on. I will be there for you through all the confusion and anger and tears you cry. Whenever you need me, please do not hesitate to call. We will walk this out together because I am your friend.”
      When I lost my 4 yr old son, Dominic, in a drowning accident, I needed friends like that. All grieving parents do. So be one. Let GOD be God and you be you.

    • Janette

      December 1, 2015 at 3:15 am

      I lost my daughter due to miscarriage 27 years ago. At least I thought she was a girl. Just three weeks ago I lost my Grandson Nathaniel at 21 weeks 5 days. I know eventually he will become more a part of our lives and not the center of everything. Still, I hurt so badly and miss him so much!! He only lived for 14 minutes. I didn’t even get to hold him. There are only possibilities not many memories, besides of the excitement of finding out he was on the way; the one ultrasound I got to see in the beginning; finding out he was a boy; and the very few minutes we got to say good bye. My heart aches. I was planning his baby shower then I was planning a memorial service and burial. I am so sorry for all of you who have gone through this. No one should ever have to. I lean on the Lord and my family. I know life will never be the same. I went through this before only this time I’ve had to watch my son grieve too and it’s a crushing overwhelming excruciating pain to see him and the rest of the family go through this. I would have given my life to save him. My son says I’m helping him and the film through it all, but I feel so helpless!

    • Sandy Wright

      December 3, 2015 at 1:43 am

      This site has been very helpful to me especially knowing the many parents that lost their son or daughter. I lost my son Chris on 7/24/2012 at 6:30pm. at the age of 39. He had a massive heart attack. He collapsed in the driveway and died in my arms. He was a wonderful young man that had many gifts,, straight A student in college and would always help people doing auto repairs, handyman type items or what ever someone needed help in. Unfortunetly my ex husband left me 39 years ago Chris at age 3 and my daughter 7 weeks old. I worked a lot of jobs to keep us a float. The kids dad disowned his kids and his whole family. This ate away at my sons love for his dad and he never got over it. His dad started him on drugs when he was 8 and I never knew any of this for many many years. Unfortunetly my son got hooked on drugs and he overdosed on meth because he could not live with the pain he had felt for years. He never told me this until 2 months before he actually died. Now I live with the great pain and guilt that I could never save him from the hell and misery he had gone through. As much as I get told to get over Chris and go on with life I will never get over the loss of my son. It eats at me inside daily but just do not say anything to people any more. No person cannot understand what you feel and go thru everyday unless they have lost a child too. I feel eveyones pain too who has lost a child and your correct no one does not know what to say when you tell them you lost your son. Most tell me you need to get over it and go on with life. No Way!! You never get over it and it does hang over my head too as it does for all the rest of us who lost a child no matter what age you loose your child. Thanks for reading and I thanks the other parent who wrote comments about their loosing a child. You all made me feel better inside. God Bless All Of You. Sandy

    • Paul H

      December 13, 2015 at 11:58 am

      Thank you for sharing. Sorry for your loss.

    • Elizabeth Copeland Gibbs

      January 12, 2016 at 7:44 pm


    • Bonita

      January 19, 2016 at 5:48 pm

      As I sit and read all the comments of the moms that share the same pain as I do, its so hard to understand all the whys and what ifs that flood my mind.
      It has been 12 years since I lost my precious Ashley at the age of 14
      After never being sick and all of a sudden an unbearable headache on Saturday and then dies on Monday. The most tragic pain I have ever or ever will experience in this lifetime!
      My life from that very moment was forever changed.
      There are no words to describe this horrible empty feeling inside and the longing of just to smell her scent again or just hear her call me mama.
      Not one of us ever wants to think of that could be my child that dies. But when it happened to me I realized that life goes on and we learn how to live again day by day!
      God is my strength He’s all I have and I hold on to the hope of life eternal and seeing my baby again!
      God bless each one of you moms and or dads that have had to involuntarily join this horrible club of losing a child!
      My prayers are daily with each one that has to experience such a pain and loss!

    • Peggy Kimbrue

      January 21, 2016 at 5:08 pm

      Please contact me if intrested it helping me with writing a self help book for parent who have lost a child… Thank You Peggy Kimbrue

    • Jan goldberg

      January 23, 2016 at 6:30 pm

      I am so sorry for you loss. I lost my son in 2005 after six years of a terminal illness. He has 4 brothers and 2 sisters and I have 4 grandchildren. The void that he left with his passing can never be filled. He was 17 when he died. My nephew is the same age he would be, and I am reminded at every family gathering of where he might be in life had he lived.. But I was privileged to be his mom. He was an amazing, courageous, loving person. I try to focus on all I still have. But each morning, when I wake, my first conscious thought is that he is gone from me. I hold that sadness and love in my heart always.


      January 25, 2016 at 9:21 am


    • Val

      April 27, 2016 at 4:34 pm

      Perfectly explained grief.
      Praying for your peace of mind. SADNESS doesn’t stop even 17 years later. But it is replaced with a good memory as soon as I can.
      Bless you all for posting and sharing your grief with all of us.

    • Ron Kelso

      May 9, 2016 at 5:57 pm

      And in the case of suicide, don’t give me shame. Suicide does not stop the pain, it just transfers it to loved ones. Just because my son took his life at 19, I couldn’t love him more.

    • Sharron Smith

      July 22, 2016 at 4:52 pm

      We lost our daughter, our bay unexpectedly on March 6, 2016. She was 19 & a college student. Miss her so much.

    • Sharron Smith

      July 22, 2016 at 4:54 pm

      We lost our daughter, our baby unexpectedly on March 6, 2016. She was 19 & a college student. Miss her so much.

    • Darlene Wallace

      August 19, 2016 at 12:59 pm

      9-21-1991 I lost my son in a car wreck it gets better but you never get over it I love to talk about my son and some time it makes people feel bad but I can’t let his memory die because it makes others feel bad If you know someone that has lost a child ask about them don’t make us feel bad because we lost our child we need to talk about them

    • rose

      August 22, 2016 at 6:04 pm

      I too lost my loving son at age 43 and 3 weeks. It was so sudden and unexpected !! It has only been 5 1/2 months and these days have been devastating !! Some days you are so depressed and thinking not clearly at all. My love for him NEVER changed and will NEVER change! My life is what changed! He is always in my thoughts and prayers and will be always loved and never forgotten !!

    • Sue

      November 30, 2016 at 9:25 pm

      We lost our daughter to cancer at 23 leaving a 2 1/2 year old behind. IT was like my heart was ripped from my chest and it has been 20 years now. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t miss her. Faith is all that has gotten me through this far. Lost both parents a few years ago and I didn’t really mourn them as that is the way it is supposed to be and both were almost 90. One day at a time and God is the only way to get through the grief.

    • Pam Whitwell

      January 19, 2017 at 7:47 pm

      This is very true I am nearly 4 years on after my son committed suicide I will never b the same again

    • Susanne Tiainen

      February 24, 2017 at 9:00 am

      I lost my only son 26 yers age… next month will be 2 years when it happened….I’ve come to know Gods mercy…cause my son was very sick and he suffered,so he is free now! but I miss him every day,I must and I want to believe that he is in heaven,in a better beautiful place now,even so I cant prove that there is a place like that,I can only believe. I have been very lonely with my grief…friends don’t ask anymore anything…but I can tell them anyways… I want to thank you all for your experiences ❤

    • Jane

      March 3, 2017 at 5:46 am


      Empty womb
      Empty arms
      Empty grave

      Joy in heaven
      Life above
      My baby love

    • Chris

      March 3, 2017 at 10:33 am

      Malka : We lost our daughter Maddie on April 11, 2015. Our world will never be the same. I’ve written a lot and our family has started The Maddie Project in her honour.

      As someone told me, It’s an exclusive club that no one wants membership to.

      Sending love

    • Samsaf

      April 9, 2017 at 2:17 pm

      The loss of a child (no matter how young or old they are) can bring immense anguish, sorrow and pain. I loss my son 5 years ago to a life limiting illness. He was 28 months old and never enjoyed a day of wellness. I was told he’d die before the age of 3 years, but nothing could have prepared me for his death.

      For me I feel not only has my son gone, so too have my dreams and hopes of the future associated with him. In my case, there’re secondary losses, which have affected my relationships, health and motivation. There are also feelings of guilt and regret at what could have been said or done, as parents often have a sense of responsibility. A strong attachment and need to nurture my son has also remained.

      In my journey, I find helpful grieving to be an important part of the healing process and people will grieve in different ways. Each experience is unique and individual, ranging from uncontrolled expression of despair to an inability to show emotion.

      There has been in my case the usual initial denial and disbelief, then a realisation that my son has actually died and the acceptance of the Spiritual journey of my late son. There also came a time for me to adjust to a new environment without my son and working through the grief and pain of separation.

      I realised that it does not follow that these stages are reached systematically, but I have alternated from one stage to another and took varying lengths of time. I also found that the pain remain increasing in intensity as some event or reminder renews the loss.
      It’s essential to know that people are susceptible to weaknesses and emotion. Therefore, it’s natural that we shed tears and has grief and sadness in our heart; this’s valid and can’t be denied

    • Wendy Glasscoe

      November 20, 2017 at 2:51 pm

      I lost my 11 yr old ealier this yrea due to misjudgement in court. The greif is so ovewhelming at times. I couldn’t ever imagine losing him to death, but I go through a lot of the same feelings that were mentioned above. It is so hard and I do have my good days, but it is like a wound that never fully closes and a heart that will never fully heal. I am scarred but I am dealing the best I know how. Thank you for this information.

    • Dania Zapata

      December 18, 2017 at 7:21 am

      It’s been 13 years since I lost my daughter. These 6 things sum it up.
      The only thing missing is that having good days doesn’t mean you forgot and having bad days is okay.

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