Death of a child

— Skylight Trust

The death of a child is a heartfelt experience like no other. ​

Children aren't meant to die before their parents. The loss of a child affects parents in an intense way. 

Some common reactions newly bereaved parents and carers experience include:

  • shock, numbness, paralysis
  • disbelief
  • confusion
  • anger
  • blaming
  • guilt
  • sadness, distress
  • relief – for example, after a difficult illness or great pain
  • fear, panic
  • helplessness
  • searching and looking for the child
  • feeling faint or sick
  • not wanting to talk – wanting to talk
  • wanting to be with others – wanting to be alone
  • crying – unable to cry
  • sensing the child’s presence or hearing their voice.

We grieve, because we love. Part of grieving is to find a way to keep loving, despite the sadness.

  • there are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ ways to experience grief
  • there’s no secret method that will take your grief instantly away
  • there are no rules
  • there is no set timetable
  • grief isn’t a test, a race or a competition
  • it might be hard to believe, but it does slowly get easier to handle.

For many bereaved parents, the relationship with their child goes on. Many bereaved parents continue to talk to their child, or continue to celebrate special days, like their child’s birthday. Bereaved parents may find, that remembering their child, brings them both comfort and pain.

Where to go for ongoing support for you and your family:

  • bereavement counsellors
  • some communities have bereaved parent support groups
  • your doctor and primary health organisation
  • counsellor/community counselling agencies
  • family support agencies
  • community mental health team
  • your school principal, class teacher, or special support staff
  • social worker, community worker, youth worker
  • cultural group support services
  • churches or faith groups
  • allow yourself to accept support from neighbours, family and friends.

For details of these groups, ask your local Citizen’s Advice Bureau – they know your community well and can suggest different groups that could assist you

Resources Available at Skylight

Skylight is here to help you through difficult times. We can assist you in a variety of ways with information appropriate for your situation. You are welcome to visit us and receive free information and a support pack from our resource centre and borrow books from the specialist library. We also facilitate Professional Development training and offer Counselling support services for children, young people, family/whānau and individuals who are experiencing tough times.

Request a Pack Library

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