Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
After the birth of your child, you hear that it has not been given a long life
If, as a parent, you are told at the birth of your child that it is seriously ill and has not been given a long life, then you step into the most intense rollercoaster ride of your life you can imagine. How do you explain to your family, friends and acquaintances what is going on with your new-born? How do you explain what the future holds for your new-born?
And so, it begins
They are not easy conversations with the family! Certainly not when your new-born child looks fantastic despite everything and some family members simply cannot accept that your child is seriously ill. Or because your child has a disease that is genetically linked to one of the family systems … or even both. How do you deal with this within your family? Not to mention the world outside your family. And finally, … how do you deal with it?
How do you continue together when you later discover that the number of friends around you is slowly decreasing? As if they find it difficult or prefer not to be near you anymore. As if you yourselves … you, your partner, and your other children … don’t have a hard enough time. In the end you try to let everything that happens outside your family, slip away from you because your child and family are infinitely more important. But that is easier said than done. It adds an extra dimension to all the problems you already have.
Unconsciously you enter a survival mode
Unconsciously you end up in a survival mode in which you are always fighting for your child to be able to live if possible.
There are times when things are going so great, as if nothing is wrong and your child seems healthy. There are also those moments that are so sad, and your child is so sick that you must rush to the hospital … at that moment you are so afraid that it won’t come home again.
Sometimes those powerful emotional moments come right after each other that you switch in a fleeting moment from joy to fear. Eventually you find repeatedly asking yourself with the thought if this could be your child’s last year?
Maybe by now you have learned not to show your emotions and the pain in you and your family anymore. Because people don’t understand. Or because they think that the pain for themselves or one of their acquaintances is much severe than yours. Or because they ask you the social question “How you are doing?” … but are not interested in your answer at all.
Finally, home Your child can no longer sustain the strength to move on
And then it comes, always unexpectedly, that inevitable moment when your child shows that no matter how much it wants … how much it loves you … it can no longer muster the strength to move on with life … no longer wants to live … and decides that this is enough … it wants to go Home. How can you, as a parent, finally have the courage to give your child permission to go Home … no matter how hard that may be for you? Nights will be long and sleepless for you … if that wasn’t the case already.
The run-up to death
Eventually come those in and in sad moments where you can consciously experience the run-up to the death of your child. During those days you can only be there for your child, while you would still like to give your child so much. You would like to continue to fight for your child. You would so much like to switch with your child.
However, at a certain point, usually unexpectedly, it becomes quiet around you. Your world seems to tip over and slowly comes to a standstill. It feels like a moment of intense peace. It is the moment when you give your child with all the Love you have, permission to go Home. And you realise that everything has been said between you in Love and Light.
As soon as you have given your permission, slowly, very slowly your world begins to turn again. You begin to hear all the sounds around you again. It is also a moment when you feel a deep inner peace and realise that it is good … as if it should have been like this!
From the birth of your child until the day you allowed your child to go Home, you were in survival mode, maybe for years. No matter how lovingly you were able and allowed to go with and support your child all those years, you were always alert to whether your child was doing well. You yourself probably would have often ignored yourself, after all, your child’s health was to you much more important. The consequence of this can be that during all those years you have pushed your feelings away … which is a thing you can do easily by now.
It became silent at home now that your child is no longer with you. Yes, your partner and your other children are (perhaps) still there, but the child you gave all your attention to is no longer there anymore. The absence is missed by all and with you the most.
On the other hand, perhaps you or your family are happy that your child is at Home; simply because your child had a hard life and finally lost that sick body. It is the beginning of a period in which slowly but surely the “natural order” in and around the family is or can be restored. In my experience this process takes almost as long as your child has lived. In my opinion, your emotions also run much flatter after the death of your child, because you dealt year by year with the thought that your child would die rather sooner than later, than when your child would have suddenly died in a tragic accident.
Suddenly you run into limits again
And suddenly you run into a line again. Most people in your life are not used to the fact that the mourning after your child’s death can be long. Certainly not in today’s times where everything must happen faster and faster. Likewise, these people are not used to learning that coping with your loss and grief in your case can take quite a long time. Then at some point you get reactions like: “Gee, your child died years ago. Haven’t you got over that yet?” Reactions that cut through your soul at such a moment because it still hurts so much for you. There is no point in explaining this to the other person, he just doesn’t understand it; you had had that experience long before. The result is that almost at once … you switch back into your survival mode again … you have become incredibly good at it by now.
But do realise
But do realise that it is good for you to learn how to deal with your grief and loss. Realise that you can’t always do it on your own in this case. Also realise that you cannot always seek support for this from your partner. After all, your partner also must learn to deal with the same loss. The longer it takes, the better it is for you to seek help from a professional practitioner with a lot of empathy and experience for your situation.
With reliable professional training for counselling in the field of grief and mourning, the requirement is that a counsellor, can counsel a client as far as the counsellor him- or herself is capable with dealing him or her own loss. A great deal of time is spent on this during such a training programme. In short, you could also opt for a programme in which you are certified as a mourning counsellor as a bonus. You will never receive the certificate of such a programme as a gift. You must work very hard for it. Besides, you must work very hard anyway, because learning to cope with loss is very hard and difficult work. Perhaps this is a wonderful new challenge for you, because the loss of your child allows you to find a new destination in life.
On the other hand, if you are looking for a grief counsellor to teach you how to deal with your loss and grief, make sure that this counsellor has experience and knows very well the limits of his or her own loss.
And now a final comment
In this contribution I use the words learning to cope with your loss and mourning. It is my experience that the raw mourning caused by the loss of your child eventually turns into the gentle pain of grief. The sharp edges go off. But the pain of losing your child never passes!
Paradoxical as it is … despite all that sadness … all that pain … and all that loss … in hindsight I would not have missed a day of it. It is what it is … and that is not always easy.