For each of us our bereavement is our own…
Although various professional bodies can help us at certain times in our bereavement, on an going basis we deal with many issues by ourselves. For each of us our bereavement is our own – unique to us. However the experiences of other bereaved parents may assist us in making choices which will help us day to day.
The following paragraphs share what other bereaved parents told us what they have learnt after the death of their child. You may find them helpful.
Please feel free to take from them as you see fit. Also email us if you can add anything that, in turn, might just help someone else. Sometimes just knowing that we are not alone and that someone else has felt the same feelings can be of help.
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How do I cope with the despair and sadness?
“Talking to other bereaved parents helped us cope. To be able to talk to someone who knows how you are feeling and who understands all the different thoughts and emotions going on in your head is such a comfort. To be able to talk to others who were traveling the same path as ourselves gave us the hope that we may survive this!”
“Going to the grave helps me. All other fathers go home to their children every evening and I feel that going to the grave is like seeing my son after work. Even though sometimes I might be distracted by thinking about work, I get some comfort from going.”
How do I fill the time?
“When my little boy died, not only was I heartbroken, but also I had no-one to look after, nobody small to care for (he is our only child). My husband did lots of structural work in the garden (I think the digging and breaking up of hard soil and building took a lot of frustration and anger out of him – better than hitting something!) Then it was time for planting and I discovered a love of gardening. I could spend time out there on my own but occupied. And it helped to be watching the plants and flowers grow, to be minding them, feeding them and watering them. I imagine he can see them. What I learn and practise in the garden I then put to use on his grave, making his own special garden. It by no means takes away my loss but it gives me a focus to nurture and care for something.”
“My daughter loved flowers, especially sunflowers. After she died I found the garden a great source of comfort, I dug a patch and named it ‘Rachel’s Patch’. I propagated little seeds and watched them grow into beautiful flowers or shrubs. I planned it so the garden would always have colour in it. I would spend hours planting and talking to her, I felt I was still doing something for her in this little patch, I took my anger out on the weeds. In wintertime we put out bird seed for the little birds especially the Robins and it’s lovely to see them flying in and out of the garden; they get such pleasure from it and we get pleasure watching them.
Family and friends often buy ornaments, wind chimes and solar powered lights for ‘Rachel’s Patch’. I think that has helped them and on fine days it is such a comfort to take a cup of coffee and a chair and sit there for a while just thinking about her.”
“Golf and walking were a help in filling in time and also the fact that I was tired after both helped me to get some sleep whether it was during the day or in the evening.”
How do I keep Strong?
Stress and Strain can take its toll…
“The most important thing for me is to get enough sleep. If I am tired I find it hard to cope and miss my boy even more. When I am tired everything is overwhelming. Something I just want to lie down wherever I am and go to sleep.”
“Your health takes an awful knock when you lose a child, the stress and strain can take its toll.
If you do get sick it will take time to get your health back. When we lost our child I spoke with our local pharmacist who recommended the family take a multi vitamin. It did help to keep us healthy in the early months and along with a healthy diet, having fresh fruit in the house and by trying to eat one balanced meal a day we managed to keep any illness at bay.”
What can I do to help me sleep?
“When my daughter was first diagnosed with a terminal condition, I thought I would never get a night’s sleep again. A close friend gave me a gift of Rose Quartz and Amethyst crystals which I kept by my bed. I drew huge comfort from them and all during my daughter’s illness and the tough times since her illness I have always managed to get sleep.”
“Working in the garden and going to the gym helped because I could push myself physically which in turn helped me to get some sleep.”
“I would be so tired during the day, but then when it was time to go to bed my head was racing and I found it so hard to sleep, I started reading books for the first time in years and although my concentration was terrible, just having something to take my mind in another direction helped me switch off and more often than not I fell asleep with the book in my hand!”
“I tried to get a walk and fresh air every day and that helped me in the evenings, sometimes walking helped me sort out all the crazy thoughts that were going through my head.
How do I keep my child’s memory alive?
“One of my greatest fears was that people would forget about my child, that I would be the only one to remember what a wonderful little person she was and how the world was a much happier place when she was in it. Her school was fantastic and named the school hall in her memory. We were able to get a plaque put outside the main hall door and although it hurts to see the plaque each time I enter the hall, I am also incredibly proud.
If your school does not have this facility you could offer to buy a bench or some equipment for the school in your child’s memory or sponsor some event in the school in memory of your child.
“When our child died the Drama and Dancing Group She went to every week sponsored a competition and a cup in her memory. This meant so much to us as she just loved her dancing and singing and to have this competition each year means she will not be forgotten”
“After our child died we got involved in fund raising, there are so many worthwhile charities but due to the nature of our child’s illness there was one or two very special organisations that need ongoing funds. So we have promised each year to do at least one fund raising event in our child’s name.”
Now that Anam Cara have the tributes section on their website and the Balloon to Remember Campaign, that is another way we can keep our son’s memory alive, even though he died 11 years ago, it’s so true you really do carry them in your heart for ever.
How are we going to get through Christmas?
“We still haven’t put up our decorations or our tree again yet. I would be very sad. The first year we went away and pretended it wasn’t Christmas! The next year we stayed at home but just visited families for a short while and came home afterwards and had a nice dinner ourselves at home – we kept the turkey for another day. We felt safe once we got in the door and had the visiting over. Last year we spent too long in both family houses and felt overwhelmed. This year we will leave ourselves free to visit only for a short time. I would feel bad and miss my family if I didn’t get to see them but once we are home we can relax.”
“Three years on and I still haven’t sent any Christmas cards – I just can’t face wishing everyone a very happy Christmas – especially as so many of them have all their families intact and safe. I feel bad but then I think will they actually notice our card missing?”
“We did a lot of our Christmas shopping early when it just seemed like part of ordinary shopping and the shops hadn’t got too Christmassy. that way we didn’t have to shop in the crowds and with jingle bells in the background.”
“It is 4 years since our son died, in the beginning it was so tough and only for extended family and friends, I am not sure how we would have managed. As time has passed we have found ways to cope with Christmas. It is still a tough time, however we have managed to find new traditions and a way to make sure our lad is remembered.
Christmas day will come and go and it is important to realise your limitations and only do as much as you feel comfortable with.”