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National Bereaved Parents Day: Guidance on Coping with Grief
If you have suffered a loss, we are so incredibly sorry to hear this. The loss of a child is devastating and brings a type of grief that is here to stay. It is unlike any other form of grief as the death of a child does not follow the natural order of things. We hope that the following provides some helpful guidance and ideas to support your process in coping with grief. And if you are here to support a loved one, we have included some advice that may feel useful.
Here are some suggestions that may be helpful:
Take care of yourself
Tending to your grief will take different forms as time goes on. In the beginning stages, it may mean doing the basics like moving your body by going out for a slow walk, remembering to eat, and finding a way to care for your sleep. As the months pass by, it’s okay to take time to remember who you were before your grief began by incorporating some self-care into your daily life. This will activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which supports the body’s coping mechanisms. Meditating, looking through old happy photos, spending time in nature, sharing a meal with friends or family, or doing something you used to enjoy might feel rewarding as time moves on.
There are lots of different ways you can do this, so find whatever works best for you. Sharing how you feel and talking about your deceased child to a trusted loved one can feel cathartic, as does reaching out to a health care professional. Talking about your feelings with someone who knows what they are doing can be helpful:
RTZ HOPE – This wonderful community provides inclusive and compassionate support for parents who are bereaved due to miscarriage, termination of pregnancy for medical reasons (TFMR), stillbirth, infant death, or a failed surrogacy or adoption.
Cruse Bereavement Support – This well-established bereavement charity has over 4000 volunteers to help people who require support.
Child Bereavement UK – This supportive network helps parents and families rebuild their lives after a child dies.
Conversely, it’s also important to have good boundaries with people who aren’t being helpful. It’s really okay to take yourself away from situations, people, and conversations that feel uncomfortable.
Communicate your needs
You may feel like you need to conceal your grief in a way in order to cope, or perhaps you would like to open up. There is no right or wrong way to go about this. According to Sands National Helpline, two out of five parents noticed that no one spoke to them about their infant’s death when returning to work. It might be worth communicating how you would like others to be around you to make it easier for you to navigate this process. Your partner or close loved ones may be grieving in a completely different way to you. Being open about how you would like to handle things keeps the channels of communication clear.
You may be dealing with your other child or children’s grief as well. How you choose to deal with this may depend on what suits you as a family and how old they are. Validating their feelings and reassuring them that they will get through this may feel helpful. If they are having trouble sleeping, Angel the Sky Pony on the Moshi app takes your child on a starlit flight on a magical pony to Cloud Nine. This won’t take away their grief, but might ease any nighttime worries before sleep.
Keep a journal
It may be helpful to reflect on how you feel during the day by journaling. You may ascertain which parts of the day feel more painful and how to arrange things in a way that feels better for you. For example, if you are still doing school pick-ups for your other child or children and that feels too difficult for now, you can reach out and ask your community for help. Your journal is absolutely private, so it’s okay to be as mournful and angry as you need to be.
It may be hard to keep motivated with ongoing chores and life’s daily demands. If you are thinking of returning to work, it’s important to not expect too much from yourself and to be honest with yourself about what feels manageable. Not being too hard on yourself and doing what you can do is enough.
National Bereaved Parents Day will occur on 3rd July to raise awareness for all parents who have lost a child. This year’s theme is Remember ME. If you feel up to it, you can light a candle on Sunday at 7 pm (GMT) to remember all the children who lost their lives too soon. There are different stages to grief and we understand this will be a lifelong process of navigating these seas of emotion.
I will light a candle with you on Sunday. Take good care.