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March 29, 2013

The Grieving Parent


The Grieving Parent

How do you get through that first, second, third, forth, (etc) Easter? It’s an ordeal. The colors seem garish, the sounds, nerve-wracking, and the people, sometimes like clowns.
Some things that can be said about Easter is having some information and understanding, which might help as you approach the holiday.


When we grieve we have no energy. Decisions are hard to make, the smallest chore seems monumental, ordinarily joyous things are not, things that used to bother you don’t bother you any more, you don’t defend yourself well, to pretend takes too much effort, and you need lots of rest.

Nothing matters. The oven goes out, dinner has to be canceled and you have to reconvene in a restaurant. You wonder why something like that would upset the others so much.

Do what you know you should do. Think of a time when it mattered, if necessary – supplements, eating right, rest, talking to someone, keeping your obligations manageable, and getting exercise. Our immune system will be shot. Outsource it.

You can cancel celebrating Easter, if you want to. You can also change the venue.One bereaved family went downtown to a hotel and they celebrated there.

People want to help you and they don’t know how. Nothing will really help. You just want your child back. But let others “do something”. If they ask and you can’t think of anything, ask them to “do something”. They’ll figure it out. Everyone knows houses must be cleaned, dogs walked, groceries bought, and meals prepared.

One bereaved mother told me how much she had wanted to have the gathering at her home as usual the first year after her child’s death, but they would not let her. Another bereaved parent said how much she did not want to have it at her house. How can others know? Tell them.

Say, “If I get up and leave the table, just let me go. I’ll be OK. I’ll come back when I’m ready.”

You might get some relief helping others – serving dinner to the homeless, or buying gifts for a family in need. I created this for the first Easter after my daughter died. I did not want to do the traditional routine family dinner but also did not want to sit alone and wallow in pity. I cooked a traditional dinner and rode to a place where most homeless people try to reside in my community. I did not know what I would be facing, but the dinner I cooked, fed 40 hungry people that day. I know my heart was still so full of sadness, but this was a distraction that was a meaningful event for those less fortunate.

Avoid malls. You see things you would buy for your child or grandchild who is gone; you see the cherubic face of a little boy who looks like the one you lost.

You hear the music. Even a little is too much. Remember you can turn the radio and television off.

Understand that those who slip and tell you, “Well, I hope you have a Happy Easter,” don’t know what they’re saying.

The “firsts” are difficult – the first anniversary, the first birthday, the first Easter, the first fall, summer, spring and winter, but the pain continues throughout the years...

Prescriptions and predictions are annoying. Time does heal many people and it becomes less raw with time; however, if that time does come, it comes at its own pace.

Be forgiving of yourself and others. One way or another that particular day will pass and you will have survived your first, second, third, forth, fifth, sixth, etc Easter without your child.