Where do I start when I can find nothing to compare to it? How do you describe it? It numbs you to the point of seeing meaninglessness in life. Oh, how great the loss – the loss of the child!
Whether the child died at infancy, was knocked down by a vehicle, or died due to an illness, it just does not make sense to the grieving parent. The grief is overwhelming. The parent may have been able to prepare for a disaster of a different kind, but for this very one, there is nothing to prepare him for the enormity of the devastation. The grief affects the spirit and the heart, changing in intensity and expression but never ending. That child will never be forgotten.
The death of a child brings confusion. It leaves the parent with a sense of despair. The drive to continue with daily activities is no more there, in fact, life is not worth living. The intensity of the pain changes with time but at the moment, the parent is not sure that he will survive. Some bereaved parents feel that there is something wrong in continuing to live when their child is dead, hence, the will to continue living wanes. Some find it difficult to live with themselves because they believe they have failed in parenting and somehow they should have found a way to prevent the death of the child. The death often affects the personal health of the parent, the marriage, the family, and plans for the future.
There is no one way of grieving neither is there a specified time for it. Parents grieve in their own way as long as they may want only that the grief should not be allowed to interfere with their health. Inasmuch as the parent experienced a loss, he himself is not lost. He needs to pay attention to his health or maybe someone else should.
As important as grieving is to the parent, it should be a journey to healing and healing does not mean forgetting. A grieving parent should be good enough to himself to let grief loosen its grip on him when the time comes to do so. It will not be easy but to get on with life, this has to happen. However, it should be in the parent’s own way and in his time.
Sympathizers should know that sometimes they unintentionally hurt grieving parents. It hurts grieving parents to hear sympathizers imply that the death of their child is not as shattering as the parents believe it to be. “You should not worry; you will have more children,” or “You still have other children,” or “You can now focus on your other children,” are things that sympathizers should never say. They may want to minimize the pain by saying these but they do not help. Parents are grateful for their children and every one of them is unique. The presence of other children does not fill the void created by the death of one child. Parents do not divide their love among their children; their love is multiplied across their children.
The pain is real and if you believe that God loves that child more than you, you have a reason to absolve yourself from guilt. That is a good way to start the healing process.