Throughout my many years of working with families who have grieved the loss of a child, I have learned so much about the power of healing in the midst of great pain and personal loss. There are three lessons that have repeated themselves over and over again, and I think they are worth sharing with others who have experienced similar losses.
The first lesson is the importance of connecting with others – something that is always risky. When a loss is involved, there is the added risk that the person you are talking to will say the wrong thing, not understand your experience, or simply not know what to say at all. However great that hurt from a well-meaning loved-one is, it is not nearly as painful as the feelings of isolation and loneliness that can come from shutting others out. Risking connection is the first step to experiencing encouragement in the midst of loss and finding support to cope with the pain of grief.
The second lesson is the importance of grieving and remembering. This can be a challenge, especially when there are few, if any, physical reminders of the person you have lost. However, finding ways to memorialize and remember are important steps in the grieving process. Creating memorials, naming the child, or finding ways to celebrate their life can be meaningful and helpful steps towards healing. Grieving may seem like a scary concept, but it is necessary for finding health and healing after the loss of a child.
The third lesson is the importance of moving forward. Notice I didn’t say moving on or moving past. You should not be made to feel that you have to leave your child in the past. They will always be a part of you. The experience will always be there. But, you can find ways to move forward and bring the experience with you in healthy ways. This may include thinking about significant ways to give back to others or finding ways to set goals and aspirations for the life you have before you.
Although there will always be pain from the loss of a child, there are ways to create connection, participate in remembrance, and look to the future that can bring healing in the midst of painful loss. Hope Clinic for Women is participating in the Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day Event on October 15 in honor and memory of babies who never reached their first birthday. This event takes place at Centennial Park Main Event Shelter from 4-5:30 p.m. and is free and open to anyone interested in participating.
Amy Moseley is the Clinical and Outreach Director at Hope Clinic for Women. She is trained in treating trauma and traumatic grief with a background in treating survivors of sexual assault and past abortions, individuals dealing with pregnancy loss and infertility, and women and men dealing with relationship difficulties and mood disorders.