16+ Things to Know To Help Yourself When Experiencing Child Loss
April 23, 2010 in Acceptance, Balance, Compassion, Grief, Grounding, Healing, Knowledge, Love, Physical Health, Rainbow Bridge Coaching and Healing, Spiritual Connection, Thought, Understanding, Wisdom
My 20 year old son Josh went missing in 2005 and was missing for almost 2 years. I spent the better part of that time working and trying to continue being a mom to my three girls, a wife to my husband and a friend to my friends. Simultaneously I physically searched for my son as well as tried to drive as many people and agencies to keep looking for him with me as if it were their own child that had disappeared.
Police Station Today the police called and asked my husband Mike and I to come down again to the station and meet with Joshes dad and step mom for the umpteenth time. Little do I know that the rug will be pulled out from under me severely and quickly without any warning as it was 2 years ago when I was told that my 20 year old son Josh had gone missing.
Upon arriving at the police conference room they told us that my son had been found. A moment of pure joy that was followed by the next comment b y the police,” his remains were found yesterday afternoon by some individuals in a remote area several hours away from Lewistown. The area has been cordoned off and evidence is being collected.“
It takes all my strength and concentration to simply remain where I am under the continued assault of information. Josh my son is dead. I ask if they know what has happened and they say yes he has been killed and an investigation will follow. Joshua what happened did you know it was coming? Did you suffer? Did you think of me and wonder why I could not come and help you or even stop this terrible thing from happening? Did you even know you were dying? Or was it mercifully quick and painless? I sure hope and pray you didn’t know or feel a thing. (Excerpt from my diary and upcoming book “Grieving Joshie-A Mothers Triumph” by Stella Haight-Wichman)
Each grieving parent receives the news of their child’s death in some way, a phone call, in person, from a relative or friend. It becomes our ground zero. Complete and utter devastation. We each respond in our own way. Some emotionally, some go numb, some respond more physically feeling nauseous or feeling as if they were hit hard in the stomach.
Understanding the reasons for our reactions goes far in how well and how soon we start our recovery from child loss. Emotions as many of us may have learned, help to regulate our lives, to give us consistency, balance and stability. So when we suddenly lose that balance as we do when we find out our child has died and life no longer makes any sense, our emotions are affected and felt often times immediately.
Our emotional response in turn causes a physical response often times felt as quickly as a second later. Chemicals in our body are released , causing anxiety and stress which causes the heart to beat faster and can mimic a heart attack and the muscles in our body contract causing a feeling of stiffness and weakness and tiredness, blood vessels constrict and may reroute blood causing a feeling of coldness in our bodies and or numbness even, antibodies that normally help to keep us from getting sick have a tough time keeping up with things and we may find we get sick more often or more severely. Neurohormones temporarily shut down our awareness so that we feel an emotional numbness not altogether feeling in touch with reality. I have tried to keep the explanations here simple and in laymen’s terms and they are but a few of the many and different responses parents experience when losing a child.
A question I often had when experiencing all these varied and sudden emotional and physical reactions to my son’s death was what is normal? Below is a listing of some normal reactions to child loss.
- No emotion or feeling (a feeling of numbness or emotionally empty or dead)
- Strong emotion (varying from a little to a lot) Can be tears, hysterical laughter, anger, etc.
- Inability to sit still (often needing to constantly move or roam about doing things)
- Loss of focus (trouble with concentration similar to ADD)
- Feelings of memory loss, fear, disorientation and confusion (as if you suddenly got Alzheimer’s)
- Nostalgic yearning for and or longing (often times intense and constant)
- Changes in biorhythms (eating, sleeping etc)
- Feeling controlled and overrun by memories
- Attacked by guilt, anger or blame
A second question I had was what can I do to survive this?
We must give ourselves permission to grieve. (to feel however we feel, to express our grief in any way that is appropriate for us and to know there is no wrong way unless it is immoral, illegal or is harmful to ourselves and or others i.e. cutting, starvation etc) Studies point to more physical and psychological problems in the initial months following loss for those suppressing grief as well as more problems over a year and more later. So expressing how we feel is a normal and healthy means to experiencing grief.
A third question I had was what should I know to help me through this?
- Hang with those who are supportive of allowing you to grieve your own way.
- Talk to the child you lost as if they were actually there.
- Find a professional counselor, therapist, or grief recovery coach. What better time to hire a guide to help you through this painful grieving process so as to move forward easier and quicker.
- Live in the moment and try and appreciate the small things. The taste of an orange, the smell of the flowers, the feel of a warm bath!
- Let others help! This is a time that tables turned you would want to help out so give others the opportunity to help you with anything you need.
- Stay close to those that love you. You do not need any more loss in your life so it is worth focusing on trying to minimize the effects of your grief on your other relationships. This also gives you something concrete to do to help you through your grief.
- Take care of you! For all sorts of reasons but most of all because you matter in this world! No telling who or how you might have an impact on someone else who is suddenly thrown into grief and may need your hard earned wisdoms, strength and direction!
Peace & Light,
Certified From Heartbreak to Happiness Coach
“Who then can so softly bind up the wound of another as he who has felt the same wound himself?”