Coping with the Death of a Son or Daughter

When a parent dies, you lose your past; when a child dies, you lose your future Anonymous

A wife who loses a husband is called a widow. A husband who loses a wife is called a widower. A child who loses his parents is called an orphan. But...there is no word for a parent who loses a child, that's how awful the loss is! Neugeboren 1976

No parent expects to out-live their child. When a child dies there is an additional burden of grief associated with feelings of unfairness, a life not lived, so many ‘what ifs’ and guilt that something we have done or not done has caused this to happen.

Parents commonly blame themselves, their genes, the house and neighbourhood they chose to live in, the food they have served, the symptoms they ignored or didn’t notice, the supervision they had in place.

Many people report losing their faith in their god when a child dies – how could God allow this to happen?

Infant and child mortality has reduced significantly in the last 200 years. When medical science was less advanced and standards of living were lower, people grieved the death of a child but accepted the inevitability of losing some children.

Today the death of a child is a shocking and thankfully rare event but that rarity means that families bereaved in this way are often more isolated. A range of national support networks recognise this and provide support to bereaved families. You may find the following links useful.

The Child Bereavement Trust
Tel: 0845 357 1000
Offers confidential telephone support and online forums, along with training for professionals working with grieving families and children.

The Child Death Helpline
Tel: 0800 282 986
Offers telephone support on every weekday evening from 7pm to 10pm, every weekday from 10am to 1pm and on Wednesday afternoons from 1pm to 4pm.

Cruse Bereavement Care
Tel: 0870 167 1677 (adult helpline); 0808 808 1677 (young people's helpline)
A national voluntary organisation that offers a free, confidential bereavement counselling service to people of all ages.

Samaritans
Tel: 0345 909 090

The Compassionate Friends
Tel: 0117 953 9639
A national organisation offering support and friendship to bereaved parents and families.