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Dealing with the Unbearable Grief of Losing a Child

Sep 7, 2007
The loss of a child is something most parents cannot bear to even contemplate. It is such a horrible thought that most people do not envision it. They feel everything will follow the normal path of everyday life. Their children will grow to adulthood and go on to live happy lives of their own.

Cathy James who lost her daughter in an accident says, "The one thing I would hope if nobody does anything else is, please know that you will see joy. You will see joy again. There is help out there. Your child was absolutely a gift. If you had to do it all over again, you would have that child over again, because of how much you love them. You would still do it all again and have the pain, because you had the love."

Cathy and Frank James live every parent's greatest fear. Every day they grieve the loss of their 17 year old daughter, Valerie. Their journey of grief led them to write a book explaining strategies they used to deal with the emotional pain of their loss. They are committed to helping one parent at a time cope with the aching loss of a child.

Using their proactive strategies will assist those suffering from a devastating loss, coping in the days to come:

- Don't try to rush the grief journey. Let it be in your own time. Everyone is different and grieves in his or her own way.
- Find what works for you.

Do something special to honor your lost child. Make it a monthly or yearly project. Get the other members of your family together and coordinate it. It can be anything that makes you feel closer to your child: scholarships, memory gardens, scrapbooks, gift baskets to your child's friends. There are a number of things parents can do to keep their child's memory alive.

You need to move forward. Find ways for you and your family to adjust to the loss.

- Rearrange the seating at your dinner table so that the empty chair will not always be a reminder that a family member is missing. Do the same thing with the family car. Sit in a different place than you normally do.
- Physical activity helps. Whether it is walking, biking, swimming, or just walking the mall, the activity helps you cope as each day passes.
- Helping others is the best way to heal yourself. Get involved in a selfless project. The satisfaction and gratitude you receive from helping others will soothe you.
- Attend a grieving organization meeting. They are located in almost every state. They lend support and walk beside you in grief because they have lost children also.

Sometimes the days will feel just too hard to get through, but with the help of your family it will get easier. Develop a family plan; establish catch phrases or code words to use. If you or a family member realizes that the situation is emotionally unbearable, mention the code word and leave the situation. Once each member of the family hears the code word, you all turn and walk away, no arguments, no forcing, and no questions.

You are going to have good days and bad days. The love you have for your lost child will always be there. It never goes away, but realize that you will experience joy again. Do the best you can. Your grieving journey will teach you what is important in life: love, concern for others, caring for others, and doing things without the possibility of benefit to help others. Through all these things, you will learn about hope, joy, and the things that are of real value.

Follow these proactive strategies to cope with the loss of a child. There is no right or wrong method to learn to cope and there is no timeline to follow. Take your time; don't burden yourself with self-doubt about what should be normal. You will find your way, feeling hope and joy in your life again.
About the Author
Dr. Proactive, Randy Gilbert enjoys producing the "Inside Parenting Success" show hosted by Jodie Lynn. She presents her insightful interview with Frank and Cathy James (TheJourneyIsMore.com) based upon the techniques from their book. You can hear the entire inspirational interview for free by going to: http://www.insidesuccessradio.com/Guests/Cathy-James
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