Losing a child is one of the worst things to happen to a parent. Losing a child is always new for parents. By losing a child, parents lose not only the person they love but also the fruits of their lives, which is very sad. In this article, you will read about the impact of losing a child and how to cope with it. Stay with us.
1. Biological effects
In 2018, Dr. Frank Infurna and colleagues examined the general health and physical functioning of 461 bereaved parents. “We’ve seen people’s general health and functioning decline and then improve over time,” says Dr. Inforna.
Losing a child, like any other distressing factor, may cause a person to experience physical symptoms, including stomach aches, muscle cramps, headaches, and even irritable bowel syndrome. A handful of studies have found a weak link between persistent grief and immune disorders, cancer, and long-term genetic changes at the cellular level.
One of the common complications that bereaved parents suffer from is broken heart syndrome, a condition that is strangely similar to a heart attack. According to the researchers, the symptoms of this syndrome are:
the feeling of pressure in the chest;
It increased cardiac enzyme markers in laboratory results.
In this situation, the body releases catecholamines, also known as stress hormones, to react to emotional or physical stress and temporarily numb the heart muscle.
Chronic stress can even affect brain function, as long-term exposure to the hormone cortisol is linked to cell death. Areas of the brain, such as the posterior cingulate cortex, prefrontal cortex, and cerebellum, responsible for processing sadness, play a role in regulating appetite and sleep. because their sleep and eating are disturbed when people are upset.
2. Psychological effects
According to research, the psychological damage caused by the loss of a child does not heal with time. According to a 2008 study, bereaved parents reported more symptoms of depression, marital disorders, and health problems than others, even 18 years after their child’s death.
In the first few years after the death of a child, parents are more at risk of suicide, severe depression, and complicated grief. Complicated grief is different from normal grief. In this case, the grief causes constant worry or rumination about the death, the person avoids talking or thinking about the end, or the person still feels a lot of sadness months after the traumatic event. Those who experience complicated grief may believe that the acute phase has no end.
“It’s best for parents to be just upset and grieving without serious complications such as suicidal thoughts or self-harming behaviors,” says Dr. Kristen Fuller. The worst cases are:
- suicidal tendencies;
- suffering from mental disorders;
- Appetite and sleep disorder.
3. Social influences
The relationship between parents will change after the death of their child. If the parents had problems and arguments with each other before this incident, their relationship would worsen after this incident. The effect of this incident on a husband and wife who had a good relationship before this incident is the opposite of the previous situation. The sadness and depression caused by this tragic event will hurt their communication ability, but most likely, the couple will become closer, support each other and try to spend more time with each other.
Another challenge for mothers and fathers who have lost their children is communication with their other children. It is challenging to leave behind this bitter event and fulfill the duties of father and mother. Experts believe that these outcomes for surviving children and parents largely depend on the state of their relationship before the injury. Losing a child can bring a family together or tear it apart.
If the cause of the child’s loss is an illness, the situation becomes more complicated. In this case, other children may feel neglected or burdened with too much responsibility while parents pay more attention to the sick child. Because the ill child needs more care and attention, most of the time, the needs of other children are not met.
Tips for coping with the loss of a child
1. Keep family members together
Your deceased child is still a part of your family and will be in your heart for the rest of your life, but this should not cause the family to fall apart. Stay together and lean on each other. While everyone in the family needs time to be alone, time together is also essential. Being together helps you remember that you are not alone in this grief. Use the power of belonging to your family to control your grief.
2. Get help from an expert
Many parents experience complicated grief after the death of their child. Naturally, they need support to cope with this grief.
Do not try to deal with this issue alone. A family counselor can teach you and your family the skills you need to cope with this difficult loss. The therapist will help you to solve problems that may arise in relationships with your spouse, family members, and other loved ones. These techniques help you get through the days, weeks, and months ahead. Meanwhile, your other children are also learning how to control their emotions.
3. Join support groups
Losing a child is a bitter experience, and few can understand parents’ feelings. In this situation, you can find relief by joining the bereavement group. Knowing that others are suffering can be a little comforting. In addition, you can benefit from the strategies they use to cope with their grief.
There are different types of support groups:
- Peer-based groups: Often, these groups are run by a facilitator who has a similar experience. These groups focus on creating connections and support for each participant. These types of groups can be found by searching the internet by region.
- Clinical support groups: usually, a mental health specialist runs this group. Most of the time, the therapist forms this group to support his clients.
4. Accept help from others
Many bereaved parents like to be alone, and that’s normal. In this condition, answering other people’s questions, talking about yourself, and even doing regular daily tasks are painful.
Allow the people around you to help you cook food, take care of your other children, do housework, and be by your side and listen to you when you need it. Only try to do some things with help.
5. Pay attention to your health
Most of the time, parents and their children are so overwhelmed by the sudden loss of their loved ones that they ignore their health. They may forget to eat, stop exercising, and neglect regular medical checkups.
It’s essential to try to eat healthily and exercise, but don’t beat yourself up for not going to the gym or eating junk food. Take small steps to get back on track. Little by little, you can make more changes and do more things. When you feel better physically, you will feel better mentally.
6. Avoid inappropriate people
Many people do not know how to empathize with you and your family. They may have unrealistic expectations of you or say things like, “You should have gotten over this by now,” or “It’s good to have another baby.”
Grief is a process, and there is never a point where you suddenly pass through it. You’ll get to a point where you can smile and laugh again, but it won’t mean you’ve forgotten your child’s death.
If you have friends who can’t respect your feelings and treat you with kindness, you should cut ties with them. Surround yourself with supportive and caring people. This makes the grieving process much more bearable.
7. Put everything back to normal
Routines provide comfort and security, especially for children. So it’s crucial to introduce old ways into your life as soon as possible, such as getting ready for school or work, having dinner together, or attending family parties.
Tips for coping with the grief of losing a child
One of the important ways to deal with this is to take it easy and not expect the painful feelings to disappear anytime soon.
- Please don’t ignore your feelings: Pay attention to them and accept them. Permit yourself to grieve.
- Engage in something: Find an activity that changes your mood. Of course, you should not use these activities to ignore your feelings. These activities should be temporary distractions that connect you with others and positive emotions.
- Honor your child: Find ways to give meaning to your child’s death. You can donate to a charity in your child’s honor or volunteer at a charity and participate in activities your child enjoys.
The grief of suddenly losing a child is like no other experience. This incident will shock you for a long time. While this is not easy to deal with, if you try to stick together as a family and take care of yourself, you will get through it.