The death of a child is one of the most devastating and painful events that a parent can experience. Parents who lose their children feel that a piece of them is lost and that their life will be forever changed. Even though many parents who are grieving believe that their child will always be with them in spirit, they often question whether life will hold any meaning for them, especially if they felt that the child was the centre of their world. Parents describe the feeling of this loss as a missing hole in their heart that feels as though it cannot heal, and many question whether they would ever be able to survive the pain of their loss. Common reactions linked to grief may be: self-blame and thoughts about whether they could have done anything to avoid such an event from happening, or whether they could have protected and supported their children more than they did. Others may blame their partners, their doctors, the system, and God. The age of the child at the time of death and the cause of death does not lessen the hurt or devastation. Both parents who miscarry their children and parents who lose their children at any age after birth feel that it is completely unnatural and unforeseen that their children’s life had to end before theirs.

Grief is the normal human response to loss. It helps us frame and identify what we may be feeling and gradually helps us adjust to living life without our lived one. At first the feelings can be very intense and overwhelming. Common reactions amongst newly bereaved parents include: shock, numbness, disbelief, confusion, anger, extreme sadness and fear. It is common to feel that you’re unable to cry, or on the contrary, to feel unable to stop crying. It is also common for parents to avoid talking to others, or else to feel a constant need to talk about your child. Some parents also struggle with flashbacks, ruminations and nightmares. It is important to remember that there are no right or wrong ways to experience grief. Even though the way we experience grief may be similar to someone else’s experience, everyone is different and grief is a subjective experience. It’s also important to remember that there isn’t a quick or easy way to grieve. Grief is not a test or a race, and there isn’t a set timetable. Even though it may be very hard to believe, with time and support, it very slowly becomes easier to handle, and living a normal life becomes possible once again.


Claire Borg is a gestalt psychotherapist at Willingness. She works with adolescents and adults. She has a special interest in mental health. She can be contacted on

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