The death of a child is a traumatic event that can have long-term effects on the lives of parents.
Each year, over 50,000 children in the United States die.
The death of a child, of any age, brings heartbreak and devastation. It is one of the most painful events that an adult can experience and is linked to traumatic grief reactions. The termination of the attachment relationship with the child causes severe anxiety and other negative emotions associated with the loss. Parents might also experience guilt about having been unable to protect the child.
During the bereavement period, a wide array of emotions and symptoms can be experienced, such as denial, self-blame, sleeplessness, fatigue, anxiety and despair. These are all normal parts of the intense grieving process, and the intensity of feelings change as you move through bereavement.
The death of a child touches everyone in the family. Sadness, anger, and hopelessness are some of the emotions often felt by bereaved parents. Family therapists are specially trained to understand the profound impact of this loss on an individual and a family and can help through this time of bereavement. Support groups for bereaved parents offer a place to talk about your child, your loss, fears, anger, anxieties and other feelings.
These groups also help parents learn from the experiences of others who have suffered the same or a similar type of loss. With time, the pain lessens and a different future is created.