Clara Hinton
Grief Speaker, Author, and Workshop Leader

When Your Child Dies Your World is Changed Forever -- Part II

6/24/2013 (Grief Relief)


Note:  This is Part II of an article written by Nicki Whitworth of Please read the words carefully as Nicki has put a lot of heart and soul into this article. 


Part II


If you are supporting a bereaved parent, don't expect them to plan too much further than the present day, or sometimes, the present hour.  Offer a quiet place for them to feel they can express themselves if they need to.  Sometimes silence can be the most comforting, as bereaved parents often feel crowded by other people's opinions.  Don't give them advice, or suggest how they should feel.  It is inappropriate – your most important act is to listen, be patient, and walk beside them in this most terrible experience.  Don't be tempted to offer advice on how they should deal with their child's belongings, or what they should do with their child's bedroom.  These are all deeply personal choices, and it is up to the parents alone to decide, in their own time, how to best deal with these things.  There is no final answer, and nothing is written in stone – except the death of their child.  They may change their mind many times about what to do with the chaos that their lives are now in – be flexible in your listening. 


Most importantly, don't feel afraid to mention their child's name for fear of upsetting them or “reminding” them.  They are already upset and will not have forgotten!  You can be sure that their child's name is never further than a breath away from them.  It is always in their heart and mind, and on their lips. To speak or to hear the name of the child they love so much and miss so desperately, and to know that the world has not forgotten is a great relief.  Be sensitive around birthdays, anniversaries, and annual events such as Christmas and New Year.  A Happy New Year is often a painful reminder of another year further away from the life they spent with their child.  These events can throw bereaved parents into the grips of grief, no matter how long after a child has died.


In the later months and first few years after your child dies, other feelings may emerge such as prolonged feelings of bleakness, depression, and the realization that your child really is never coming back.  This does not mean that they have been in “denial” all the previous months, but that realizations happen at many levels, and at many layers of letting go.  When a child dies, realizations of losses are relieved and occur many times and shed more skins as life and grief progresses – they are not all experienced at once.  Often at this point, family and friends may be wondering if you will ever be able to resume a life with any happiness in, and they may despair themselves.  If you are supporting a bereaved parent, be patient and be there for the long haul.


It is important to remember in these later months an years that this is not a permanent state, and often the support of other bereaved parents can be invaluable at this time, when it feels as if the rest of the world has peeled off.


Though it feels that you will never feel color in your life again, it is still an important part of the grieving and healing process.


Slowly we may find different things have meaning.  A slope of unexpected sunlight may no longer pierce our heart.  We may find we are slowly inching into a phase of life where we feel the presence of our lost child alongside us, perhaps sometimes guiding us.  We may find our bodies grow around the pain and change our gait.  We may find a way to work or live that honors our child and their gift to us, and can rebuild a life that feels meaningful.


We may simply be able to get on with life “comfortably uncomfortable” and get more used to it.  We have touched the fragility of life and know human frailty as never before. We may aim for much smaller, simpler but sweeter goals around what is really important, having lost our most precious thing – our child.  We may see a stripped down but clearer view  eventually.


We know that life will never feel the same again, but it can begin to offer us different values and different strengths and different relationships.  And, perhaps in time, a deep and continuing relationship with our beloved child who has died will develop.


Our hearts were broken and the love inside is deeper than ever.  We have not “moved on” from our child.  We have “moved with” our child.  They may not have grown alongside us in life as we dreamed of and expected, but we have grown alongside them in love and grief, and they will be with us and inside us forever.


  1. Nicki Whitworth

    8/1/2010 – 5/6/2013 SLOW supporting bereaved parents


Thank you, Nicki, for your thoughts, insights, and encouragement as we travel this path of child loss together!



Clara Hinton, Author “Silent Grief”

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