A Childless Woman on The Loss of A Child

Dealing with the loss of child

In designing XIZOZU Medals of Honor I have to explore some of life’s most gut-wrenching events, and present them in a meaningful design, intended for people who would rather not have earned them.

And while I am reasonably comfortable with death as a broad concept—you know, when it’s quietly slipped into like a favorite robe after a long and fulfilling life. There are all those other instances of death that are impossible to grasp and that make us different people. The loss of a child, of any age, tops the list.

Living with Grief after losing a childHaving no children of my own I can’t come close to comprehending the depth of such a loss.  How does one take that unimaginable the first step on the path of recovery after losing a child? There is no road map for this kind of loss. Everyone must wander through their own dense fog of despair in whatever way their heart urges until it finally begins to lift. The inner strength required to simply lift one’s head and look at the world after such devastation is incalculable to me. But somehow remarkably, people—parents—do it.

During design research for my Loss of a Child XIZOZU medal, I came across thousands of pages and posts about working through the grief of this tragedy. (I link to many of them here.) I had to sit in a lot of  my own discomfort while reading the poignant personal stories of parents emerging after deeply traumatic loss. Admittedly, my unease didn’t even register on the human heartache scale compared with those I was reading about.

By reading this post: What I Wish More People Understood About Losing A Child, I gained a clearer understanding of the role of those supporting a grieving parent. The author, Paula Stevens, who has experienced this agony herself, offers suggestions for ways to support bereaving parents. Her brief straightforward list is rich in first-hand advice on ways we can best comfort those struggling with this grief, including the importance of understanding that it’s not something that ever fully heals.

I learned how how important it is that their children not be forgotten. That they are kept alive through memories; that they are talked about. After several weeks of producing designs that only came close or outright failed, I finally created one that honors the parent, the child, and the sacred connection they’ll eternally share. It was among the most challenging things I will ever attempt.

As it should be.

Resources In Support of Grieving Parents

A Letter to People in Pain: The Early Days of Grief Are a World of Their Own by Megan Devine

Dear Kate: Living With Grief by Nancy Comiskey

How to Talk To A Parent Who Has Lost a Child by Samantha Hayward

Death of a Child Affects Relationships Throughout Family by Alex James

Death of a Child ~ Grief of the Parents: A Lifelong Journey by National SIDS Resource Center

Growing a Strong Marriage after the Death of a Child by Margaret Brownley

Helping Bereaved Parents Cope by Sandy Fox

How Grief Can Affect a Marriage by Pat Schwiebert

Let Me Tell You Who I Am Now by Angela Miller

Loving My Son, After His Death by Nora Wong

My Adult Son’s Death Has Changed My Life by Basia Mosinski

Parental Grief in the Wake of Homicide by Marty Tousley

Farewell To My Daughter Kate, Who Died On Christmas Day by Jean Gross

Reaching Out, Sharing Grief by Sherry Cassedy

6 Things to Never Say to A Bereaved Parent by Angela Miller

The Obliterated Place by Cheryl Strayed

What I Wish More People Understood About Losing A Child by Paula Stephens

When A Child Dies Of Drug Addiction by Joni Norby

 

 

Websites:

Bereaved Parents of the USA – Home Page

Center for Loss and Trauma – Dr. Joanne Cacciatore

The Compassionate Friends: National

Fathers Forever

Grieving Dads: To The Brink and Back

Grieving Parents – Surviving Loss As A Couple

Hospice of the Valley’s Grief Support Services

Lamenting Sons: Fathers in Grief

The Loss of a Child

Love Never Dies: A Mother’s Journey form Loss to Love

Open to Hope

POMC: Parents Of Murdered Children