The way we grieve our losses is impacted by many factors including: our own unique coping style, , our history of previous losses, our support systems and, the way we view the loss. The way we grieve is also impacted by the kind of loss we have had, in other words who died and what is the nature of your relationship with that person.
There are some common aspects to each different kind of loss. The death of my mother affects me differently than the death of your mother affects you, because we are different people. But we have some similarities in common: we might both feel like orphans, particularly if we have no other parent. Or maybe we are both struggling with difficult relationships with our siblings, now that our parent has died.
It can be helpful to look at different kinds of losses and see some of their commonalities. This helps us normalize our experience and helps us better understand what we are going through.
The loss of a child is unimaginable. Parents are deeply traumatized and feel a complex array of difficult feelings. The loss of a child is profound and insufferable. It is out of sync with life’s natural progression. Bereaved parents often say “a parent is supposed to die before their child” “I feel so guilty, I feel so powerless”, “I should have died first.” “I don’t deserve to live”. A parent often feels guilt for not being able to prevent the death and protect their child and keep them safe.
Parental grief is most often traumatic and complicated. There are many wonderful parent led support groups including Compassionate Friends, which help bereaved parents not feel so very alone, damaged and alienated.