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Ways To Cope With The Painful Loss Of A Child


Ways To Cope With The Painful Loss Of A Child

  • Family

There are moments in life when challenges arise that bring us to our knees. And then there are moments when the unimaginable happens, and suddenly, you forget how to exist in the world. Coping with the loss of a child is a trauma no parent should have to endure, but because it is an agony some must face, this article will share ways to help a parent cope with the loss of a child.

6 Ideas To Help A Parent Cope With the Loss of a Child

Be gentle with yourself. Grief has a way of taking everything out of us, so we are left drained. You may be used to operating at 80-100%, but when you are going through a loss, you likely can only function at 10-15% of your productive capacity. So if actions that once seemed simple now seem hard, know that it’s completely normal when you’re grieving. Our first recommendation is to be gentle with yourself and your loved ones.

Set realistic expectations with yourself. Perhaps before losing a child, you could wake up early, make breakfast, go to work, work out, make dinner, be present to your family, and meditate before bed. But things are likely different now, for at least some time. Adjusting your expectations of yourself during this challenging stage of grief is essential. Maybe you need more sleep and have to keep things simple when cooking meals for yourself and your family. Perhaps you must ask a neighbor to take your son to soccer practice. It’s okay not to be able to function the way you have been. Choosing to step back and take on less now does not mean it will always be that way; it just has to be that way for now.

Stick together. While everyone will grieve differently, it’s essential to lean on one another and grieve together at times. Having a support system will help manage the pain as no one will have to feel alone in this challenging transition. As a parent with other children experiencing the loss of their sibling, check in and let your kids know that you are there to talk with them, cry with them and that they can lean on you when things feel unbearable. It can also be helpful to share that you are deeply sad and hurting but that together healing is possible.

Seek professional help. Because everyone grieves differently and managing your grief and that of family members is often challenging, seeking professional help can be highly beneficial. Counseling, therapy, and trauma work can help your family cope with losing a child or sibling. EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), and Somatic Therapy (a form of body-centered therapy) are examples of different modalities that some professionals may use to help a patient heal from trauma. Some people who have endured loss prefer to start treatment sooner rather than later to help them get through their days, while others need some time before doing inner work. Be patient with yourself and meet yourself where you are.

Pay attention to your health and well-being. While you certainly don’t need to jump into an intense workout regimen when navigating your grief, it’s also important not to ignore your health and your family’s health. Take baby steps when caring for your mind, body, and spirit. Maybe that looks like taking a walk for fifteen minutes every other day, buying an easy dinner, or taking a few minutes to do focused breathing every night before bed. There are no rules, but try not to forget yourself when grieving. Even when choosing tiny simple acts of self-care, choosing to love yourself can help with the healing process.

Seek out positive resources. Whether it’s seeking therapy or buying grief books, remind yourself that you are not the first person to endure the loss of a child. Find stories of other parents who have grieved the loss of a child and learn what tools helped them get through their darkest days. You may not like everything they share, but there’s a good chance they can offer some wisdom. There are also support groups for parents experiencing loss that can provide community support.

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If you are experiencing a child’s loss, know there is no right way to grieve and no rule book showing you the road to healing. You may feel like you can’t get out of bed. You may drown yourself in work and distraction, so you don’t have to think about what has happened. Neither way is wrong. We intend these coping tools to help in times of darkness and pain, but they are not perfect solutions. There is no ideal solution to losing someone close to us. Unfortunately, the only way out is through, and figuring out how to get through the pain takes time.

If you are looking to speak to a professional or find a support group to help in the meantime, Advanced Behavioral Health is here to help. Our team of professionals offers therapy, counseling, and psychiatry services and specializes in various healing modalities. Read more about our services here or call us at 301-345-1022 to speak to someone on our team. 

When you think of the well-being of a child, you first think of basic needs: food, water, and shelter. Once these needs are met, however, it’s crucial for a child to have emotional and social wellness as well. In this article, we will explore the impact social wellness has on the overall health of a child and great ways for children to garner social support in their lives.

It comes as no surprise that as human beings, we all need connection with others, no matter what stage of life we are in. In fact, having social support is a social determinant of health (SDOH) that significantly impacts the health of an individual. After spending the last few years in and out of isolation due to the Covid-19 outbreak, social support is more important now than ever before. Having social support means having family members and friends you can talk to and seek advice from when life feels challenging and overwhelming. Knowing you’re not alone in your life journey, especially as a child, creates a sense of belonging and empowerment throughout one’s life.

4 Types of Social Support

Emotional Support. This type of support lets you know that people care about you and have empathy for your experiences. Emotional support often looks like people checking in on you to let you know they’re thinking of you, and that they are there if you need anything. As a parent, make sure your child knows you can be a sounding board for them. If you have family members who can also show up for your children in this way, even better!

Practical Help. This type of support is when people give you something tangible or offer a service to help you out. This could be in the form of money, making food when you are sick, or helping to pack when moving. Having family and friends show up in this way shows your child what it looks like to be present for people you love.

Sharing Points of View. This type of support can often come in the form of affirmations and encouragement. For example, pointing out your child’s strengths to them and reminding them they can do anything they put their mind to. It can also look like sharing another perspective if they are being hard on themselves. For example, if they are angry with themselves after receiving a bad grade on a test, you can help them see it as a learning experience and a way for them to grow.

Sharing Information. This type of support is when someone shares what they’ve learned from their own life experiences. For example, if another parent has a child who struggles with socializing, they can share some tips and tricks they’ve learned to help their child find and create social support.

The Importance of Social Groups and Extended Support

Children who are connected to their family, friends, and people in their community have opportunities to learn how to speak, share, and get along with others. When your child feels connected to people in your neighborhood, it often allows them to feel physically safe which can alleviate stress and worry. Simply riding bikes, going on walks, and saying hello to neighbors with your kids can create this sense of security for them.

In addition to engaging with your neighbors, getting involved in local organizations can also create social support for your child. Signing up for a sports team, musical theater, art class or summer camp are all great ways to help your child meet new friends and learn important social skills that can carry them through their lives.

Tips for Helping Kids Make Community Connections:

Spend time outside in your neighborhood playing on the playground, going to a local farmer’s market, or scheduling a playdate with neighborhood kids.

Show your kids that connection is a two-way street. If your neighbors or friends go out of town, offer to get their mail, or water their plants and take your child with you when you go. This will show your child how you show up for people you care about.

Make sure you make time for socializing with friends as well. Your child looks to you first and foremost for how they should act and live their own life.

Encourage your child to step out of their comfort zone and do something they may be scared to do. As a parent, it’s your job to push them into something social for their own well-being at times.