"The water returning to the sea" die "into the sea. In fact, they do not disappear - they only come home. This "paradox" is perhaps the most beautiful and illuminating picture, a simile of death. "
Death is a necessary part of life.
We all have to inevitably face its reality sooner or later. One of the most painful experiences of our human existence is to lose someone who was important to us. Coping with our child’s mourning is the hardest form of grief. No parents want to experience their child dying earlier than them. Although death is part of life, the death of a child is unnatural.
It’s extremely hard to mourn in the 21st century.
The process of grief necessarily includes the process of remembering, the experience of pain. This is the only way we can establish a good relationship with the deceased person, while adapting to the changed challenges of the environment and, in the meantime, reducing the intensity of our pain. Nowadays, unfortunately, we treat death and grief as taboos, it’s talked about very rarely and rather superficially. The people around express condolences at most and use clichés. This is mostly due to the fact that acquaintances and friends don’t know what to say and how to behave with people in grief. Therefore a lot of people avoid these conversations and if it happens anyway they try to make sure not to cover the painful topic. It helps a lot both sides if they honestly say what they need, for example “I only need you to listen to me without giving me any advice or console.”
It is typical that the grieving person tries to be back on the track, works a lot and acts like nothing has happened. Many times because they feel like this is what their environment expect from them or because they don’t want to be a burden for anybody. They don’t grieve and that’s wrong. The suppression and denial of pain further deepen and complicate the process of mourning.
The community and traditions helped processing the grief in the past such as burial feast and black clothes as the clothing symbol of grief. The requirement of our age is to look strong, hide our pain and sorrow. The power of community supports the mourning person much less, relatives and friends rarely mourn together and there aren’t as many rituals and ceremonies that help the process. The mourners' pain may be ignored by relatives, so they quickly learn how to hide their feelings. It only serves the comfort of the environment, while it is particularly harmful for the mourners.
The process of grief is different for everybody.
There isn’t one good solution. We do everything, the best we can on our own ways. Time doesn’t heel in itself – it really helps when we begin to work with the pain through the grief. We can experience a great variety of emotions when we lose a loved one such as anxiety, panic, anger, guilt and relief. The characteristics, process, and expression of mourning can be very different, including significant male and female differences. We can’t do anything to our emotions but accept them as the natural concomitants of grief which will fade as time goes by.
Grief also means that we slowly accept what has happened and learn to live with those changes. This is by no means the same as forgetting the lost people; it’s just finding them a lasting place in our lives where they don’t cause so much pain.
Through grief we learn how to continue to work despite our losses, which is significant both to our future lives and to the quality of our social relationships.
We want to stand by the parents who lost their children in this difficult situation, so the Light Of My Eye Foundation organizes a self-help mourning group.
We are looking forward to all the concerned parents who think it’s helpful if they can share their worries and sorrows with a group of people suffering from the same situation which is losing their child so they can look for ways to move forward together.
The activities of the mourning group will take place every two weeks for 1.5-2 hours in Pécs. The group work includes 10 sessions. Free-of-charge sessions - with helpful people suffering from similar situation - are held by Krisztina Kopcsó, a psychologist who’s qualified as a grief support group leader.
The supporting effect of self-help groups is one of the strongest healing powers. Many people think that sadness increases, but on the contrary, the pain relieves. The group’s atmosphere of trust, sympathy and understanding allows you to talk openly about emotions, the difficulties of new life situations, and get samples of how to cope with the pain of mourning.
The nature of mourning
It is a common idea that mourning takes place over a year. The significance of the one year mark lies in the fact that during this time we have to experience every celebration that is closely related to the memories of the deceased person such as name day, birthday, Mother’s / Father’s day, Santa Claus, Christmas, Easter, vacation and more.
Classical theories divide the process of mourning into stages (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance). Although these theories also emphasize the uniqueness of mourning, they may suggest that mourning is a continuous, forward-looking process. It is important to accept that recesses in mourning are the natural parts of the process as well. There are better days, and sometimes the negative feelings take over again.
The process of mourning is completely unique, this inner work can’t and doesn’t have to move forward as books describe it and, it’s not needed to overcome the pain, anger and loneliness within a year. Anniversaries and celebrations are typically events that rediscover and revitalize the mourners' soul, making them aware of the loss of the deceased.
All Souls' Day
The fact that this event is coming often haunts the mourners for long weeks before it’s due. In general, the more recent the loss is, the more frightening the idea is to go to the cemetery to light a candle at a grave that was part of our everyday life. Often, the goal is somehow, in any way, to go through and survive the day. After months and years, this state of mind can be replaced by a quiet, peaceful remembrance.
Preparing for the All Souls’ Day, it is important for the mourners to make clear to themselves what would feel good also what and how should happen that day. It may also be important that you don’t remain alone with this pain during this period. There are those people who are comforted if they can take care of the deceased; for example purifying and decorating graves or planting flowers. Many people may like to have a conversation about the deceased, especially with someone who knew them, with whom they had shared memories.
When we remember our child
Losing a child is an extremely difficult and painful experience, so as All Souls’ Day getting closer we can feel more and more like we can’t overcome our negative emotions. Death is a necessary part of life. The death of children, however, is something else, something unnatural, an experience which causes immeasurable pain for everyone involved. Parents are forced to experience that they can’t be with their beloved child on this journey. They have to let their child go to a place where they have never been to and only can have fantasies and religious theories about.
The less time elapsed since the loss of the beloved child, the more disturbing the November period and later the holidays are. Often, we can feel we can’t lean on even the most supportive environment, people simply don’t know what to say about how to handle the situation. This is why they often tell clichés or misguided advices to the bereaved parent such as "time solves everything" or "don’t get angry, you still have two healthy children" or "you are young, you can have another child".
Time alone doesn’t heal anything, the loving care of the deceased child's siblings and helping them to cope with their grief is a very onerous task. Filling the emptiness left by the lost child, “replacing” the child with current or future siblings won’t end up well. Every child is unique and irreplaceable. Thus, the parent can obtain a maximum of partial consolation while putting an unbearable burden on the involved child. What can be a long-term goal is to redefine the relationship with the deceased child, to adapt more or less appropriately to the new situation, and to heal painful emotions as much as possible. All this can help remembrance - ideally in a supportive, loving family environment - for which the common design and exercise of the dead rituals of the dead can be an appropriate occasion.
Commemoration can help in this process, ideally in a supportive, loving family environment. Practicing All Souls’s Day rituals is a proper occasion for commemoration.
Everyone mourns in their own way. Let’s accept the feelings of ourselves and our family members!
Allow ourselves to be sad. Crying is not a sign of weakness!
There is no good or bad mourning. Follow our hearts and feelings. From crying to laughter, any emotion sticks with you, let's try to accept it.
Female and male grief can be unimaginably different. Mothers often resent their partners because they feel like they don’t mourn “enough”, because they are not sad “enough”. It can also lead to a conflict if they feel like they don’t listen to or understand them.
Keep in mind that men are more like men of action! Their mourning is typically expressed in solution seeking activity, in an action form.
Let’s spend this day as best for us and for our family.
Let’s not want to meet the expectations of others.
Plan together how we want to spend the day, either with others or alone.
Think about our previous habits, which ones we want to keep, leave and change. Create new family traditions together.
It is important that if there is a child in the family, he or she must be involved in planning as well.
Let us take time to relax, it could be a walk or a hot bath.
Pay attention to the children in grief.
For children who mourn their sibling, such a time is as disturbing and emotionally burdensome as their parents, yet it is common for them to pay less attention to them.
This period is just as disturbing and emotionally burdensome for the children in grief as for their parents, yet it is common that parents pay less attention to them.
As a result, they will remain alone with their feelings and thoughts which they don’t share with their parents because they don’t want to make them even more sad.
Don’t forget about them. Let's listen to them, giving them the most open and accepting attitude.
Be sure to involve them in planning the All Souls’ Day.
Ask for support from others.
Sharing pain and loss can help alleviate it.
Make it clear to the people surrounding you if you want to talk about the deceased.
People often want to help but don’t know how. Let's say exactly what we need.
Let's nurture our memories.
The recollection of memories may seem painful and undesirable but it helps to process mourning. In grief it needs a long progress to get to the point where remembering feels good. Many people don’t want to remember at first, they block their memories because they hurt so much that they can’t cope with it. When they start remembering they don’t do it in chronological order. Sometimes it’s just a flash of a picture, a voice or a little thing from a shared story… During remembrance we don’t only recall the feel of loss but the joy and love related to the deceased as well. Our memories can become resources in the mourning process, which we can rely on later on.
There are some ways to keep our memories:
Let's talk about the loved one, share our memories.
Let's look at family photos, either together or alone.
Light a special candle to the memory of the deceased person.
Make a collage of pictures, drawings, decorations.
Listen to the music that has meant to us or to the deceased a lot.
Do not lose hope!
Christmas guide for parents in grief
Christmas period can be unbearably difficult after the passing of our child. The whole world is celebrating, everyone is preparing for Christmas for weeks. We see this everywhere - in stores, streets, TV, radio, magazines, the Internet and social networking sites. We often feel alienated because of the mourning, we feel isolated.
In the planning of Christmas, especially in the early years of mourning, we wonder how we will survive this period. It is normal if the parent feels he simply would "cancel" Christmas. The essence of the holiday is the togetherness of the family therefore the feeling of immense emptiness left by the death of our child is intensified. Christmas can never be the same, because our family isn’t the same either – it’s not complete. If this is the first mourning year, the holiday will be painfully different from the previous ones. When we look at things to do, we may find it difficult to cope with them. Let's decorate the tree, send postcards, give presents, go to Midnight Mass, attend a festive meal, a family reunion? Do we have to follow our earlier holiday habits - shopping, decorating, etc.? This is a particularly important issue if we have a smaller child. Many parents in grief find that Christmas preparations are more difficult to cope with than the Christmas Day itself.
We hope that some of the following ideas will help you during the festive preparation...
Don’t let others decide how to go through this extremely difficult period. Do not feel obligated to appear at family/friends' celebrations or at a workplace event if you feel you can’t cope with them.
Sometimes we don’t know what to do until the last moment. Don’t feel like you have to plan the holidays in advance. Tell your acquaintances that you will decide on Christmas Day if it’s a good idea to attend the celebration but you may not be able to do so.
Let your close family members and friends know about your struggle and let them know if you feel like you need to talk about your child in this special period of time.
Tell your friends that you would like them to commemorate your child at Christmas - that it would be very important for you to see your child's name on the Christmas greeting cards or if they would say a toast for him or her on a Christmas meal. Most people hesitate to make such gestures unless they are aware that you would like to receive them.
Try to discuss with your family how you feel and what you all would like to do. Talking and thinking together can help prepare to Christmas and sometimes, if these plans work out, Christmas Day can be surprisingly pleasant.
If you have a younger child in the family, note that he or she may desire that Christmas remain the same as it were before. Although it could be indescribably painful for you, it’s possible that for the child who you share your grief with finds comfort in the usual way of celebrating Christmas.
For those parents who have lost one or all of their children, Christmas may be extremely painful, especially if they have no grandchildren. Christmas is a family holiday, and it is extremely difficult for parents who are without children to endure it. For these parents it’s just as unbearable to spend Christmas alone as it is to spend it with other families. Either option they choose, it’s essential for them to commemorate their child.
Some will never send Christmas greeting cards again. Others include their child's name, for example, "Yours Truly X, Y and forever remembered Z." We may ask others to also commemorate our child via greeting cards or any other small gesture.
Don’t put yourself under too much pressure. If relatives who are difficult to tolerate invite or want to visit and you feel like you would feel worse because of it, simply say that this year you can’t do this. Or you might want to set a time limit for the visit - "We'll go for a drink but we won’t stay more than an hour."
Create a new Christmas rite for your child - join a candleholder commemorating deceased children; spend time in special, memorable places, whether alone or with others, make or buy a special postcard or decoration for your lost child.
Spend time with people who understand you. Avoid those who don’t.
Make sure you have time to ‘escape’ on Christmas Day. An outdoor walk or a long hot bath can help relieve tension.
If you can’t cope with the Christmas challenges, travel and do something completely different. (However, please note that the absence of supportive friends and family and the joy of strangers can make this period more difficult to bear).
Apply as a volunteer to a charity organization. This can provide a good feeling and a distraction.
Do simple gymnastic exercises – it releases especially necessary endorphin.
Please note that New Year's Eve period may be just as difficult. The coming of the New Year can make us feel like we "move on" from the memory of our child. The celebration of others and the New Year's wishes can deepen the craving and mourning feelings. We may feel isolated from the celebration and happiness of others. Recognize these feelings of yours and share them with people close to you! Planning the evening can help whether you choose to spend alone or with understanding and supportive people who let you be yourself and commemorate your child on this special night of the year.
The death of our child will surely overshadow the Christmas celebration. Most importantly, as far as we can, we should try to spend this holiday in a way that is the best for us and bring the memory of our beloved child to the Christmases of the future.