Stages of Grief
After the loss of a child, it is expected that everyone will grieve differently, and not everyone will go through all stages of grief. It is important to remember to not compare yourself to others, and be true to the emotions you are feeling. Also, the grief process does not occur in any order, you can switch back and forth between the various stages of grief.
Shock & Denial
Being informed that your child has died can place you in a state of shock. Shock is an unconscious reaction that provides emotional protection from being overwhelmed all at once. For some individuals, shock can last for weeks.
You may also deny the facts and feel numbed with overwhelming disbelief. It’s normal for some to deny the reality of your child’s death at some level. Denying it allows you to avoid feeling the emotional and physical pain.
Pain & Guilt
As the shock wears off, it is often replaced with never experienced, unbelievable emotional pain. Emotional pain is not something you can necessarily touch. You may feel a tightening in your head as if you are on overload with thoughts you are unable to control, or perhaps feel limp and unable to move.
You may have guilty feelings or remorse over things you did or didn't do with your child. Your life may feel chaotic, scary and unsure during this time.
Anger & Bargaining
You may become angry after you finally realize the death has really occurred, and you can no longer deny it. You may find yourself lashing out and placing unwarranted blame for your child’s death onto others.
In the case of an accident or illness, you may also find yourself bargaining with doctors, God or other powers by saying, “I will never yell again if you just bring him/her back." Other phases could be, "Why me? It's not fair!"; "How can this happen to me?"; "Who is to blame?"; "Why would this happen?"
Depression is normal after the death of your child. During this time, you may begin to feel the impact the death has on you and it can cause depression. You may intentionally isolate yourself and reflect on things you did with your child, as well as focus on the memories you shared. You may experience emotional emptiness causing you to feel lonely and believe your pain is not relatable by others.
The Upward Turn
Adjusting to life without your child will eventually become a little calmer and a bit more structured. Your physical symptoms should decrease and your feelings of "depression" should begin to lift slightly.
Acceptance & Hope
Overcoming grief is learning to accept and deal with the reality of your new life without your child. Accepting that your child has died does not necessarily mean instant happiness. Given the pain and turmoil, you experienced emotionally, mentally, and perhaps physically, you can never return to the untroubled, carefree, relaxed “YOU” that existed before your child’s death. The death of a child brands you with its on marking. However, there is a roadmap that can help you find a way to move forward!
Moving forward means, accepting what has happened and hoping to find gratitude in the midst of each day. As you hope for directions in living your new life, only you can determine how you want to live your life. Just know that "It's going to be okay;" "You are a survivor;” and, “You can fight any challenges set before you and win.”