National Parents' Bereavement Day
Before I qualified as a counsellor, my working role was a cardiac support worker at the Birmingham Children's Hospital. During my 8 years there I was privileged to be a part of many families' journeys during some of their most troubling and distressing times. I supported parents whilst their child was undergoing life changing surgery. Sadly, many of these children who I got to know didn't survive, they died and when that happens a piece of the parent dies as well.
There is nothing that can prepare a parent for a loss of their child. The ‘normal’ cycle of life is that parents will die before their children but sometimes this just isn't the way. I have been with parents when they have been told that there is nothing more that a medical team can do. I have held parents' hands when their child has taken their last breath. I have placed a child who has died into the loving arms of their parents and I have watched parents give their final kiss goodbye….and each time I have been a part of these very special moments I see the parents world change forever.
Supporting parents after their child's death is unique to each family. The grief is like no other and sadness plays the biggest part. The heartbreak, that hole, that void is something that will never be repaired. The grief doesn't pass, it remains a part of that parent forever. Many parents describe their lives in different tenses, Before, After and Forever. Before their child died, After their child died and Forever the age that their child was.
Now, in my role as a Counsellor I have worked with many individuals and couples who have experienced this loss. I can never, nor would I want to take away the sadness away from any parent but I can help them to explore their grief and help them understand what they want their grief to look and feel like. Some parents find sharing memories and stories really helps them, they start to learn how to create a different connection with their child who has died, exploring the memories and celebrating their child's life. I know a lot of parents who start fundraising campaigns and set up charities, often using their child's name. This seems to bring a lot of comfort to parents as they feel that there is a part of their child living on whilst at the same time helping and supporting others.
The loss of a child can be a very difficult thing to talk about, for the family of the child but also for others around them. Some people worry about saying the wrong thing, others choose not to say anything at all which is never a good thing. Talking about your child's death and loss is vital and it is a huge part of your grief recovery process. Your life will never be the same again but that doesn't mean that you have to stop living.
If you're struggling after the loss of a child, then feel free to reach out to me for a free consultation.