Did she die

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How do you deal with grief?

Grief hurts. It knows no time, no limits, no law. It is omnipresent. It makes you small, defenseless and in need of help.

The death of a child or parent means a family crisis with a drama that can hardly be overlooked. The existing network of relationships is destroyed. The emotional balance of the family as a whole is profoundly changed. The dead family member leaves a great void - each individual will have to learn to live with that loss.

No matter how strange it sounds for grieving people - but there are healing powers in grief. The grief sometimes leads the family to bond together. Deep feelings are shown more openly. Roles are checked. New values ​​are created. Family members can rediscover or rediscover their own strengths. They feel that they are not drowning in grief. You will learn that you can cope with emotions.

Look for help!

Grieving families should not be afraid to seek help. Discussions in groups with those who are also affected or with therapeutic support help to overcome the crisis. On the website of the Nicolaidis YoungWings Foundation you will find professional help with grief work.

Death of a partner and parent

The consequences of the death of a partner, the mother or the father cannot be overlooked. It's not just overwhelming grief that captivates family members. Everyone mourns for himself and yet has to be there for the others.

For the parent and children left behind, death does not just mean the loss of a loved one. The supporting partnership is also lost. Decisions now have to be made alone.

The partner leaves a gap that cannot be closed. He or she was an extremely important part of the family. That is why it is important to keep her or his memory. Even if a parent dies, the family members always keep it in their mind. That is why talking about the lost person is good - even if it hurts.

Death of a child

The death of a child plunges parents into deep despair. The feelings that they experience in full intensity are almost unbearable. Sadness and fear, feelings of guilt, but also anger and feelings of powerlessness in the face of the finality of death shape everyday life. All hopes and dreams for the future are suddenly destroyed. The meaning of life suddenly seems to have been lost.

The loss of a child is experienced as so dramatic that parents think that part of them has died. It's a pain that never stops.

Everyone grieves differently. Nevertheless, there are similarities: the parents freeze immediately after the child's death, as if in shock. A protective mechanism works that keeps the destructive reality away from the soul.

Only after a long time can parents begin to grapple with the loss. This usually takes so long that people around them expect death to be slowly processed. The opposite is the case. Coping with the death of a child can take a lifetime for some parents.

Many parents withdraw and isolate themselves. You feel very lonely. Only after a while can they approach other people again and take part in life.

It takes many years for parents to see meaning in their life again - until they feel that their own life can go on. You gain a new inner balance.

That doesn't mean they forgot their child. The birthdays of the deceased child continue to be counted. If parents experience other children at the age of their dead child, they involuntarily think of what it would look like now, what abilities it would have ... The dead child is missing in the family. It stays that way.

Children can be lost in different ways:

A close relationship is established between mother and child during pregnancy. If a miscarriage or stillbirth is to be expected, this diagnosis is an enormous shock for the parents.

If the embryo is no longer alive by the 12th week of pregnancy, the woman is scraped off. After the 12th to 14th week of pregnancy, women have to go through the whole process of childbirth knowing that they will give birth to a dead child. The psychological burden is enormous.

Parents have to come to terms with the fact that life with a baby that they have been preparing for months will not happen. Often children’s clothes have already been bought, maybe the cradle is already in the child’s room ...

If there are children in the family, it must be explained to them that they will not have a brother or sister. The demands of the environment are stressful.

It is helpful when parents can say goodbye to the dead child. It should be given a name. Sometimes a footprint is taken at the clinic. All of this helps give the child a place in the family.

It is important that parents talk to each other about their feelings.

Grief takes time. Family members should also take this to heart. Sayings like "you are still so young and can still have many children" sound cruel to the ears of parents who have just lost a unique child.

Parents who have looked after a terminally ill child experience the loss differently than parents whose child is suddenly torn from life. Accompanying a sick child over a long period of time always gives rise to hope.

The illness forced the parents to grapple with his death. Parents may find it comforting that death is a redemption for their child.

Perhaps it will be possible to say goodbye and accompany your child until the end.

Parents can find help at a children's hospice.

The unpredictable death of your child can be caused by sudden infant death syndrome or an accident, for example. It is a terrible shock for parents. From one minute to the next, someone who was very close to them, with whom the joie de vivre and life plans were connected, is no longer there.

It takes some time before they know what the external circumstances of the accident were. They remember that the child may have happily gone to school in the morning or that there may have been arguments over minor matters ...

Parents whose child ended their own life are in a special situation. Not only the loss of the child has to be dealt with, there are also expressed or unspoken accusations from the environment.

Of course, parents are desperately trying to understand why their child has seen no other way out. They think about what they could have done differently. The question of "why?" usually remains unanswered: Very few juvenile suicides leave a suicide note.

Parents who have lost a child should not hesitate to seek help. Groups with those who are also affected are very helpful for grieving parents. Therapeutic help should also be accepted without hesitation.

The association "Orphaned Parents eV" offers well-founded support. The address for Munich: Orphaned Parents Munich e. V., St.-Wolfgangs-Platz 9, 81669 Munich, Tel. 089 48088990 or visit the association's website.

Children and grief

Everyone grieves differently. This also applies to children. Depending on their age, they deal differently with the loss.

Parents cannot expect their children to grieve in the same way as they do. This can also lead to children showing jokes or inappropriate behavior. This is perfectly normal.

It is important to accept and support the other in their grief - this applies to all family members.

A few notes for a better understanding:

  • Smaller children are helplessly exposed to their feelings.
  • Children grieve by leaps and bounds. You are very sad and can laugh again in the next moment. This behavior is completely normal.
  • Children show their feelings in physical reactions such as insomnia, sudden aggression, or withdrawal.
  • After a loss, children want nothing more than to get their perfect world back.
  • Children need everyday routine.
  • Children don't like to have long conversations. They need the offer to keep talking about their feelings.
  • Children want to know everything exactly. You ask very carefully about the accident or the illness, where the dead person is going ...
  • Children tend to idealize the deceased.

Children feel how the adults grieve. The more openly feelings can be shown in a family, the easier it is to show sadness, pain and aggression. You can see that you can laugh at times and forget the pain for brief moments.

Talk to children about the loss

It is particularly important to talk to the child about the loss in an age-appropriate manner. With sentences like "You don't understand that yet." the child is deprived of the opportunity to come to terms with the great loss.

Under certain circumstances, the child will adopt behavior that is no longer age-appropriate. It would like to sleep in the parents' bed or is particularly in need of support. It takes very special care and patience. Consoling also includes: hugging, taking on your lap ...

Children want to relieve the grieving parents. That is why they suppress their own feelings. But they give up being close to their parents and feel lonely. The grieving child feels understood when it is clear that his loss is also very unique and difficult.

Sometimes it is easier for the children to talk to someone who is not part of the family. Relatives or friends of the family should at least offer to talk.

If children cannot find a way to talk about their grief, other ways can help. Drawing, painting or writing a diary help to express feelings.

The environment is just there

Just like adults, children need a social environment that strengthens and supports them. The older the children get, the more important friends of the same age become. In this sense, a group with those affected can be supportive for young people. Feelings can be lived out here that would never be shown in front of parents or friends. In addition to the pain of the loss, anger can also arise at how much death has turned the whole family off its hinges. "If only I had been nicer" or "If only I had been more careful" are thoughts that can arise as well. Some adolescents also experience a strong greed for liveliness, which can alternate with deep sadness.

What does the death of a brother or sister mean for the siblings?

Everything is not what it used to be. With the death of a child, the whole family is upset.

The siblings who remain behind not only have to deal with the loss of a brother or sister, they also experience their parents in deep sadness.

They cannot support their children through their own pain. Mourning siblings are often left to fend for themselves and have to come to terms with their feelings and fantasies.

Siblings have a close relationship with one another, even if they sometimes don't get along very well in everyday life. It is not uncommon for children to think that an argument has led to the death of their brother or sister. This misunderstanding must be cleared up clearly and openly. Otherwise the child will not be able to cope with the feelings of guilt.

Parents must make it absolutely clear that they love the living child as much as their deceased sibling.

Comparisons made by parents and the environment between living and deceased children are very unfavorable. "I'm still alive even though my brother was a lot nicer." - a simple logic that can have fatal consequences. It lowers self-esteem and makes you feel guilty.

It is very important for siblings to keep something of their deceased sibling. Photographs, a hair clip, the dearest cuddly toy ... Because the deceased child is still there in the mind, it remains part of the family.

What's next? After losing a child, parents may have a tendency to overprotect the living child. The living child is certainly a valuable treasure.

Maintaining the standards of upbringing that existed prior to the death of the sibling is not easy, as the loss has changed the entire family. But the living child must be able to develop and needs age-appropriate freedom.

How can loved ones help grieving parents?

Many people tend to avoid the subject of death. Now it comes into life in full force. Everyone has to decide for themselves how far they want to and can accompany the mourners.

If you feel overwhelmed, an open word is definitely more helpful than a slow withdrawal.

Some tips on how to behave towards grieving parents:

  • Parents need friends. Especially at first you have the feeling that you are behind a smoke screen. Nevertheless - or perhaps because of that - it is important that friends talk to them, help with errands or just be there.
  • No one - unless he has experienced it himself - can imagine what it means to lose a child. It is difficult for outsiders to understand how great the pain is. It is important to show honest feelings.
  • Grief takes time. Friends can find it difficult to watch when loved ones sink into grief. There will be moments of great sadness long after the child has been lost.
  • Friends should talk to parents about the child. The child is dead, but not taboo. Parents think about their child all the time anyway. It hurts them and still feels good to talk about.
  • No child is replaceable. The reference to the other children of your own is no consolation.
  • The siblings of a deceased child each grieve in their own way. They need special attention that their parents may not be able to give them in their own grief.

People who accompany grieving parents must expect the pain to come to light again and again - even years after the child's death. You have to prepare for overwhelming emotional outbursts, insatiable tears, words of desperation or silent depression.

We offer these specialist articles for further reading:

Further information

Parents letters

You can find this topic in the letters from parents ...