Losing a child
There is never an appropriate age to lose a child. In either yours or their life. All the losses I have encountered have been heart wrenching, to say the least. Unexpected losses are worse. Although in my experience, no amount of time prior to an expected death will ever prepare you for the death of a child, whether they are terminally ill or failing to thrive. You can never be prepared in your heart, maybe possibly in your head, where mentally you have rationalized the inevitable.
So what can one expect, besides a myriad of unmet dreams, unfinished business and irrational guilt? Deep pain? I have heard over and over, "if only we ..." or "I should have ..." and of course, "I wish I had said ..." These are moments of unrealistic guilt, nonetheless painful, but realistically not something you could have prevented.
Anger, bargaining, disbelief, regret, guilt, depression, are among the common responses to loss of a child. I can't personally say, except through others who have grieved this kind of loss, that this is not going to be easy. Grief and all of it's manifestations, are going to be with you for years. The strength of these emotions will begin to dissipate after the first year, but will never totally disappear. You have loved and the expression of your love, now grieving it's loss, will never die. If you could find the words to express this deep grief, it would be a love story that you could repeat again and again.
At first, the ugly, unimaginable events will roll through your mind like an old fashioned slide show, repeating over and over the events of that day. When you heard the news and how you took in the hard cold facts. "There is nothing more we can do." And somehow we expect to move through this graciously with that very information, but your heart wants to run like crazy to avoid the inevitable.
Will these memories, always be so vivid? Will you have a better day tomorrow? If you shut your eyes will they go away? It's ok to have questions without answers, as everyone is unique in their grief. What is your experience?
If you have witnessed the death by accident, by suicide, by some unforeseen tragic act of another, there may be an even more heightened sense of trauma to your own psyche. We are not used to the images of death in real life, unless trained as a paramedic or an ER staffer. Despite all you have seen on TV, or the movies, none of these are really real ... but your loss is and it is at best a hard transition toward acceptance, and to freedom from these horrific images you can't shake. Or that come back in dreams, or at the sight of familiar objects.
A sense of closure can be found in telling the story again and again, until it is comfortable to say it, out loud ... or to write in a journal ... or to blog and share the reality of these uncomfortable mom by doing so, or attending a support group or joining an online group, so that you are not isolated from others. Peace and comfort begin by sharing and making the reality of this untimely death less of a burden to carry alone.