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My World Is Gone
Written by Clara Hinton   |  Jan 02, 2002
When a young child dies, the emotional pain a parent experiences runs deep and long. Very few people can even begin to understand the intensity of the grief that is felt from this particular child loss. More often than not a parent will say, “My world is gone.”

The first months following the death of a young child are usually spent in total shock. A parent wanders through the routine tasks of daily life, not really seeing or hearing much of anything. The shock of the child’s death is too much for the mind to absorb all at once. Therefore, acceptance and the reality that a child has truly died often take several weeks.

While this adjustment time to the reality of the child’s death is taking place for the parents, life for others is beginning to settle back into a normal routine. Great difficulties in grief can take place six months or more following the death of a young child. A parent’s grief will often escalate, while family and friends have expectations of the parent showing strong signs of healing and moving ahead in the grieving process. When a parent still shows signs of deep grief, friends and family members are often quick to make wrongful statements, adding guilt to an already broken heart.

A good thing to always remember is that grief does not ever follow a timetable. We tend to place restrictions and a limitation on others’ grieving, making allowances for only what we think is normal and timely. There is, however, a “no rules policy” that applies to parents who have gone through the death of a young child. The grief will be very individual, and will not follow a set of rules and guidelines for grieving.

What can a parent expect in the first year following the death of a young child? A parent can expect to feel every range of emotion from intense sadness, depression, anxiety, and fear, to deep anger, guilt, and regret. Every “first” will present a major upset of emotions. In reality, nothing will feel very comfortable or right during the first year following the death of a child. It most often will seem like the world that you once shared with your child is now gone.

There will be days when you feel so overcome by grief that it will be a major accomplishment just to get dressed, brush your teeth, and comb your hair. The daily tasks of life might seem like they are too much in the early months following the child’s death. This is all to be expected.

Set mini goals in the early weeks following the death of a child. Write them down on a post-it note where you can see your goals list. You might include such things on your list as: get a shower, walk the dog, go to the bank, and prepare supper. As you move forward in your grief, you will slowly see your list of goals begin to change. Your list will include such things as: get the car repaired, invite the neighbors to supper, go to the movies, and exercise 40 minutes.

When a child dies, the world you once knew changes instantly. For a while, it will seem like you will never experience spontaneous laughter and joy again. As you work through your grief each day, though, you will begin to notice subtle changes until finally you will realize that joy is felt just because it is good to be alive. You will no longer be consumed every moment with the fact that your child died, but you will experience peace and joy because your precious child lived.
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