The sensitivity of grieving parents is huge. The trauma associated with the loss of a child leaves lifelong wounds. Eventually, they turn into scars, but they can remain utterly sensitive, even while seemingly invisible to the eye.
It’s true. Those who haven’t experienced child loss even though they have good intention often try to make helpful suggestions. The effect, however, is pain upon pain. For the grieving heart, it’s unbelievable that others don’t realise. Mostly they don’t. Still, where does that leave the ravaged broken parents’ heart?
Those hurtful comments can also lead to secondary losses of friends. Emotional firefighters or builders are a rare breed and so many friends lack the stamina it takes to truly support parents after a loss. Relationships become strained from the long-lasting effects of the emotional rollercoaster. Those unaffected cannot relate to the grief remaining and find it hard to fully comprehend why parents still talk about their child years after the death.
A society focused on ‘happier, more successful and busy’ doesn’t know how to deal with those frozen in time, shell-shocked by the always untimely death of a child. We were unprepared in our own grief. We all lack education on how to be with someone who has experienced it. Death is removed to old people’s homes and hospitals. We no longer tend to experience death in our family home and remove ourselves from the emotional consequences.
This is my personal most used statement. I’ve lost my ability to be productive, to multi-task, to remember names, places etc. If my computer fails to be working without interruption, I walk away. I just can’t deal with it as I did before.
Who am I?
If I am somehow puzzled with who I’ve become, still trying to find archived skills or long-lost memories in my brain, what happens to those who knew the ‘Nathalie-from-before’? I’ve heard some comments, disguised cries for me to ‘come back’ or ‘focus on the living’. Let me tell you, I’ve done nothing else but that: It’s a continuous step-by-step process to ‘come back’ and daily I’m living in the here and now, focusing on finding and creating meaning. But it’s hard work and that’s what makes me tired and sensitive.
Like a burn injury is said to be a lifelong injury, so is the grief after child loss.
Come and join the Grieving Parents Support Network (GPSN) peer support group, ‘May We All Heal’, where you are among others who get it.
Join here: www.facebook.com/groups/mayweallheal
Please also read:
Nathalie Himmelrich the author of a number of resource books for bereaved parents. As a relationship coach, grief recovery expert and bereaved mother herself she believes that relationships (intimate and to other support people) are the foundation for a healthy grieving experience. She is also the founder of the Grieving Parents Support (GPS) Network and the May We All Heal peer support group.