How To Cope With Losing Your Child – Is Time Really The Best Healer?
Counsellor and author, Nicola Beer, shares ways to cope with losing a child
The loss of a child is one of the worst types of pain anyone can endure. Whether your child was one week old or thirty-five years old there really are no words. In a perfect world no parent would ever have to say goodbye to his or her child but the reality is that there are sadly a lot more parents outliving their children than we realize.
There are also millions of women who suffer the pain of losing their child through pregnancy. I’ve worked with women who have had several miscarriages and as well as with women who felt forced to have an abortion and deeply regret it. So I am providing some tips to help you deal with the loss of a child.
In the US alone, an estimated 228,000 children and young adults pass away each year. For those of you who’ve lost a child, you are not alone. Very often it’s easy for people to think that no one else could possibly comprehend what they’ve been through – until they meet someone who’s been through something similar. A lady who sought counselling with me lost a newborn baby and was severely depressed but told me later that it was only when she found out that another woman in Dubai had also lost a child and was working with me to release the grief, did she feel comfortable to ask for help herself.
It’s natural to feel empty, numb, angry, depressed, confused, unmotivated and in a state of shock, as grief takes many forms. Grief is a natural and normal healthy reaction to loss, and without processing grief we can suffer far longer. When we block our feelings with keeping busy, using sleeping tablets, alcohol or over eating, we can stop the natural healing process. Aside from bereavement counselling and meeting people who’ve been through a similar loss, there are several other things you can do to help you cope if you’ve lost a child, whether it happened a few weeks, months or years ago:
TALK TO SOMEONE: This might seem like a very basic tip but it’s surprising how many people will try and go through the grieving process alone. As a grief recovery specialist, I’ve helped many women, men and married couples who’ve lost a child. Every case was different and everyone grieved and coped in their own way in their own time, but the people who talked about their loss in the long-run managed to pick up the pieces of their lives and rebuild them bit by bit. It’s no easy task but by taking it one day, one week at a time and having someone to talk to can make a world of difference. Many of the women and men that come to me for grief and bereavement counselling come many years after the death, as they didn’t have the chance to share how they felt at the time. Talking to a specialist is also important if you are struggling with acceptance and wondering: What did I do to deserve this? Why me? Why us? Know that it is normal to think like this, especially at the beginning and getting help can lessen this.
DO TAKE EXTRA CARE OF YOURSELF: When you are grieving it is so important to eat well, get adequate sleep and avoid turning to alcohol and excessive eating to numb the pain. Whilst it’s easy to reach for the bottle or medication every night, a lady I worked with recently switched from drinking several glasses of wine a night to juicing before bedtime. There are some excellent juices and anti-oxidant supplements to help ease anxiety, stress and insomnia. She chose juicing lettuce, celery and grapes to help her sleep after her son passed away and found it helped. Juicing can also be therapeutic the whole preparation process and it’s an activity you can do allowing your hands to be busy but mind to process the grief. If you can find a good nutritionist or natural homeopathic doctor they should also be able to help you by prescribing you with some extra vitamin and mineral supplements to help your body cope with the intense feelings you are going through.
DON’T WAIT FOR TIME TO HEAL: When it comes to how long it will take to heal and feel ‘normal again’ there are no fixed times or guidelines and there is no such thing as normal. There are people who seem to have it all together weeks after burying their child only to have a complete nervous break-down ten years later and then there are people who work through their grief layer by layer as and when they are ready. Is time really a healer? No, it’s a myth. All time does is pass. It’s only action within that time that really counts. I know people who have waited 5, 10 and even 20 years to feel better. When grief is pushed aside, bottled up and not spoken about it’s just a matter of time before it can come back – and often with a vengeance.
DO TAKE CARE OF YOUR RELATIONSHIP: Having helped thousands of couples now to save their marriage, a sad but true fact is that many couples that have lost a child have then gone on to get a divorce. Time and time again I have worked with people whose marriage was falling apart after their child passed away. The stress and strains that a loss can have on a relationship is immense and if both partners have different ways of grieving and don’t understand and accept that, it can be the breeding ground for arguments and conflict. For example, one partner might throw themselves into work in order to cope and the other might completely withdraw and have trouble getting out of bed in the morning. One might want to put the past behind them by moving house, area or country, the other might want to keep everything the same. Whatever your strategy is for coping, if you’re fighting more than usual get help from a specialist before it’s too late. Try doing things together, this can often help keep the connection. For example walks along the beach, feeding and bath time, and cuddling on the sofa to a feel good movie. Plenty of hugs and other displays of affection are also definitely the way forward.
HYPNOTHERAPY: This can also be powerful to forgive yourself, live and let go. I typically create a hypnosis track for every person I help, where I create a track to help them sleep naturally, trust life again, let go of regret and to love themselves; enabling the body and mind to relax. I then give them the track to listen to anytime they need to feel calm or sleep.
If you go for the hypnotherapy option make sure your hypnotherapist gives you a recording as hypnotherapy works best when it is repeated. If you are having any frozen image’s or painful memories of the experience or wondering if you will ever feel normal again or can’t stand to be around other people that are talking about trivial things, then definitely talk to someone to offload this too. You are welcome to book a free 30-minute consultation with me via my website nicolabeer.com where we can discuss some steps that can help you come to terms with the loss. Lastly and most importantly, love and forgive yourself. Many women blame themselves and this makes it harder to heal. Self-compassion is the only true way we can heal the pain of loss.
About the Author
Nicola Beer offers individual and couple counselling services in the UAE. She is a best-selling author and runs 3 podcast shows on iTunes and other podcast apps just search Nicola Beer podcast, or visit her website nicolabeer.com