Things bereaved parents will always find hard

No matter how long has passed since your child died, certain situations will always be difficult and can bring you straight back to your grief. Here are some of the things other parents told us they still find hard.

Answering how many children you have

One of the most difficult questions is ‘how many children have you got?’. Your answer to this question will depend on the situation, where you are, who you are talking to, how you are feeling – you gauge the situation about what to tell whom.

Sometimes, the reaction of other people such as shock or amazement can be a reminder that what you’ve been through isn’t normal – even though it’s your normality. This can bring your grief to the surface, although there’s nothing wrong with this.

For parents who have lost their only child, this can be even more complex. You are bound to still identify yourself as a parent – after all, you’ll carry your love for your child forever. So it can be very difficult to give a straight answer. Again, it’ll be about assessing the situation and who you’re talking to.

If someone asks me if I have children, I will always be honest, I am not going to miss Hannah out. What I usually say is that I have 2 children. If they then ask about them I will say I have a son who’s currently 19 and a daughter who is forever 13. I usually leave it at that to see what their response is before either changing the subject or carrying on and providing more information.

Simon, dad of Hannah

It’s always a dread when somebody says how many children do you have. You never know what to say so I think depending on the situation there are times I’ll say I’ve got three daughters and one’s died and other times you feel as though it’s gonna cause too much upset to say that so you just say I’ve got two but you kinda feel guilty in your heart as if you’re denying that she was there but there’s times you just think if I explain this to this person they’ll feel really awkward so it’s better just to not mention it.


Milestones and rituals of other children and the impact

It might feel like your child is ‘stuck in time’ at the age they were when they died. Watching their friends or your other children grow up can be painful, especially as they start to pass milestones. Witnessing other birthdays, graduations, engagements, weddings and a new generation being born can bring up feelings of loss of the perceived future for your child, and for yourself.

This will always be hard as people’s lives march onwards but you will learn how to cope – whether that’s doing something special to remember your own child, or being kind to yourself and doing whatever it is you need to get through it.

Fear of your child being forgotten

As time goes by, it can become harder to keep the memory of your child at the forefront of your life. You might move away and lose some of your network who knew your child. Your other children’s recollections might be limited. You might have a new partner who can’t share in the memories you have.

You will never forget your child but it might be important to you to find other ways to keep their legacies going. You could talk to their school, college or club about creating a cup or shield in your child’s name – this could be for something that reflects them and their interests like art, sport or compassion.

You could also plant a tree, make a scrapbook with photos or a journal and add your memories as they come to you, or take part in a fundraising event each year in their name. You could make an annual tradition and involve the loved ones in your life so they can share in this too.

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