Tragedy: When a Child Dies

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A Community Changes

We were having an afternoon like any other Sunday afternoon, when my husband read his email. He called me over, had me read it and we hugged. Then we quickly got the kids to eat, change, and go to a candlelight vigil for a family from our school. A child we have known for many years, a mother who had been so active in our school, gone. The stricken look on my middle child, while my eldest held her friends.

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Nothing really prepares you for someone dieing. Sometimes, you know it is going to happen soon, but mostly, it just takes you by surprise. But when it is a child, the internal conflict can be overwhelming. There is a sense that it just isn’t fair, that life shouldn’t be cut short, and that there was a lot more life to live. And then to watch your children struggle to understand what has happened to their friend and their friend’s family. There are very few words to describe how that feels.

Emotions Change

Emotions during this time will be tricky things. They will ebb and flow like the current in the ocean-sometimes big and overwhelming and sometimes tiny with sucking noises. Feelings like this is a dream, life is unfair, anger at God, grumpiness, fear of always being sad, loneliness are common. People talk about the stages of grief, but there is no progression from one to another. There is just an experience of all of them from one moment to another: Shock, denial, anger, bargaining, acceptance.

 

Feeling those feelings deeply is important but as a parent, there are extra considerations.

  1. While your child is around, focus on their feelings and how they are processing. Save your anger and sadness and confusion for later. Admit to the feelings, but focus on responding to and reflecting back your children’s emotions.
  2. Break down often, with friends, but without your children. Your kids need to know you are ok before they will feel safe enough to explore and process their own feelings.
  3. Share with your kids how you are going to handle this difficult situation. It is important because they will look to you to discover how they should handle it: Do you seek professional help? Do you exercise? Do you talk with your friends? Do you keep a prayer journal?
  4. Remember that you are distracted. You are grumpy. Conflicts with loved ones are common. So remember grace-give it to others and receive it yourself.

 

Christy Graham, LPC S RPT S

Mom of Three Babies and Wife of One Hubbie.
Need a list of grief groups? Like to talk with a counselor who can help you to process through grief or loss? Call me at 940-222-8703 ext 700.

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