How to Cope with the Death of a Child

How to Cope with the Death of a Child
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 28 July, 2022

What I’d like people to understand about losing a child is that no one is prepared for it. That’s why I’d like to recommend something essential and wonderful: we should enjoy every instant we have with the people we love. Nothing is safe in this life. Nothing is guaranteed. Not even the fact that children will outlive their parents.

The tragedy of the death of a child is incomprehensible. Many feel isolated because they feel that no one can understand their pain. Losing a child is mainly having the feeling that we have lost a life project and hope itself. Nevertheless, the day will always come when we’ll realize that life is still worth living, because it implies keeping their memory alive.

First of all, it holds true that there is no tragedy we’ll all experience the same way, like the tragedy of having to face the grief caused by the loss of a child. However, what we should be clear about is that we should never face it alone. The family nucleus should remain united and take care of each other, heal and learn to live with that void. Therefore, we should keep in mind these simple reflections that we’re going to share with you today.

I have to fight everyday against the paralysis of my spirit, my body

woman with roots

Losing a child means that overnight the world stops. It’s something that goes against nature and that our mind can’t deal with. So we remain still, breathless, as if we no longer had a soul. The most recurring thought that these parents will have is the classic “nothing makes sense.” And the emotional and motivational paralysis may end up trapping them in a chronic suffering.

Our mind is incapable of processing what has happened, which leads to denial, mental blocks and immobility. We must avoid staying isolated, because solitude itself will push us towards that same paralysis. It’s vital to count on the help and support of your family, friends, and any health professional to help us deal with this.

I must learn to live with my sadness

Saying that you can overcome the death of a child is untrue. To overcome means to beat, and no one can or should overcome an absence, a void that clings to to the very essence of who you are as a person. The death of a child must be assumed, cried about and accepted. We learn to live with that void, but we’re conscious that the sadness will forever be in our hearts.

And whether we believe it or not, the day will come when the pain is no longer so devastating. We’ll be able to breathe without it hurting, walk around without our soul weighing us down and live without our heart aching. Because living again implies honoring the memory of who has has left. It means to understand that we carry them with us, that remembering them is to honor them, and that love will transcend though sadness remains inside us.

I should not neglect my partner

Losing a child involves feeling like your life and family projects have suddenly become orphaned. The void is immense and the bonds are no longer the same, but that doesn’t mean we have stopped fighting for that project.

We must avoid blame and reproaches. In these situations, even silence itself can be harmful and destructive. We should respect the way that each person deals with their grief. Some are capable of opening up, while others need time to react, and that’s something we should be able to understand.

Intimacy, commitment and passion are three pillars that should remain in your relationship. If we keep nourishing them, the relationship will move forward. If you just show your void and blame each other for certain things,  you’ll probably start to distance yourselves.

colorful landscape

Coping with the death of a child while not neglecting the others

Children deal with death in a much different way than us. And we shouldn’t neglect their process, especially if they’re between the ages of 6 and 10 years old.

Death is something no one understands. It’s something adults feel anger towards and causes children bewilderment. Death doesn’t always allow for goodbyes. So we must show our tribute by remembering, our daily love towards the memory of that person.

It’s advisable for children to express themselves, that we take care of their doubts and promote their emotional release without hiding our suffering. Pain must take shape in order to be able to liberate and channel it.

mother and child

It’s vital that we take on projects in our daily life again, that we allow ourselves to smile with our children, honoring the memory of the one that has gone. We will learn to live without this child, but they’ll never lose that privileged corner of our heart. There’s no doubt that life will be different after this loss, but it’s vital that we allow ourselves to be happy again. You shouldn’t feel guilty about it.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.