Grieving as a single parent

Grieving for your child if you are a single parent can bring its own additional challenges. If you have other children to support, you might feel that the whole world is on your shoulders and can’t truly share the burden with anyone.

If you have been through a divorce or separation, you might feel guilty about the effect it had on your child before they died, or that your other children now have to navigate their grief with the added dimension of not having their two parents there together. You might even worry that the stress of your breakup caused your child’s illness in some way (although this is not and will never be the case).

The death of your child might mean that you are back in contact with your ex, or spending more time with them than you were previously. This can bring up complicated feelings and challenges, and can be especially difficult if you or they have another partner, or if half-siblings and stepchildren are involved.

If you are a lone parent because your partner died, your child’s death will undoubtedly bring up earlier grief in a profound way.

Whatever the case, this is bound to feel like a very lonely and isolating experience. Although you might feel no one can understand your pain, it’s important to reach out to other people in your life. Having another adult around can give you much needed support – whether it’s a shoulder to cry on, help with practical chores or someone you can talk about your child with.

Getting support

The Compassionate Friends has local groups and contacts, as well as events and retreats where you could meet other bereaved parents. Find out whether there’s something happening near you. If you can’t take the time out right now, their booklet for bereaved lone parents could give you some ideas of things that could help.

Gingerbread supports single-parent families and could offer you support.

You might also like to read...

What family and friends can do to support a grieving parent

A guide to supporting bereaved parents, how you can help and the things people get wrong.

Find out more

Knowing when you need extra support for your grief

It's difficult to know when grief becomes depression. Here are the signs to look out for.

Find out more

Grieving at work

Deciding when to go back to work - what you might need and how your employer can support you.

Find out more

Join our group for bereaved parents and carers

Sharing what you’re going through can make this time a little bit more manageable. Join our private Facebook group for bereaved parents and carers, where you’ll find positive support and shared experiences. We'll share helpful resources in the group, as well as opportunities to get involved with the important work we do. The group is open to all parents and carers, no matter how old your child was, or whether your child died very recently or in the past.