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 For the Newly Bereaved

The death of our children, grandchildren or sibling at any age from any circumstance is indeed one of the cruelest blows that life has to offer. The journey through this grief is a very long, dark, difficult and painful one for bereaved parents.


In the early minutes, days, weeks, months and even years of grief, we find ourselves in an all consuming grief and pain beyond description. We find it difficult to carry on our everyday lives or to think of little except our children’s death. Even our once wonderfully happy memories may bring us pain for a time.


People do not “get over” the death of  a child, grandchild or sibling nor do they “snap out of it” as the outside world seems  to think we can and should. The loss is not an illness or a disease from which we recover.   It  is a life altering change that forces us to build a new life for ourselves and our families, in a world that no longer includes out loved one.



It is important for newly bereaved to know that they will experience a wide and often frightening variety of intense feelings after the death of our children, grandchildren or siblings.



It is also important for newly bereaved parents, grandparents and siblings to understand and know that all of the feelings that you experience are very natural and normal under the circumstances.  Equally important for you to know and hold on to is that as much as you cannot possibly believe it, you will not always feel this powerful and all consuming grief.



Right now you must follow the instincts of your soul and allow your bodies and hearts to grieve. The grief resulting cannot be skirted over, around or under. You must go through it in order  to come out on the other side.


Be gentle and patient with yourself and your family.   Allow yourself to cry, to grieve, and to retell your children’s story as often as needed and for as long as you need to.


Eventually, you will smile and find joy again. You will never forget your child, grandchild or sibling; he or she will be with you in your heart and memories for as long as you live.

Some of the things you may experience or feel are:

  • Depression.

  • A profound longing and emptiness.

  • Wanting to die. This feeling usually passes in time; for eventually you will realize that you  must go on for the sake of remaining family members, yourself and your child who died.

  • Profound sadness.

  • Crying all the time or at unexpected times.

  • Inability to concentrate on anything, frequently misplacing items.

  • Wondering “Why???”

  • Forgetfulness.

  • Questioning yourself over and over: "IF only I had….?" "Why didn’t I…?"

  • Placing unnecessary guilt on yourself or others.

  • Fearing that you are going crazy! (very normal)

  • Great physical exhaustion. Grief is hard work and consumes much energy!

  • Difficulty sleeping or sleeping all the time to avoid the pain.

  • Physical symptoms such as heaviness in your chest or having difficulty breathing (if these feelings persist see your physician) tightness in your throat, yawning, sighing, gasping or even hyperventilating.

  • Lack of appetite or over eating.

  • Weight gain or weight loss.

  • Anxiety. (Often associated with overprotective behavior toward surviving children and other family members.)

  • Denial of your loss, thinking that your child will return. (Denial can be effectively treated by spiritual leaders as well as psychologists. Seek help if your denial phase persists beyond a few months.)

  • Needing to tell and retell the story of your child’s death.

  • Inability to function in your job.

  • Sensing your child’s presence or an odor or touch associated with your child.

  • Having difficulty grocery shopping because of seeing your child’s favorite food(s) on the shelves.

  • Irrationally upset with yourself if you smile or laugh, thinking how can I smile, my child is dead.

  • Feelings as if your spouse or other family members don’t understand your grief or are not grieving as you think they should. Remember everyone grieves differently.

  • Losing old friends who don’t seem to understand your pain and grief.

  • Making new friends through support groups with members who have also experienced the death of a child and therefore understand your feelings.

  • Becoming very frustrated with others who expect you to be “over this” in a month, six months or a year and who say so.  Or even being frustrated with yourself for expecting to be  “over this” too soon.

Hold these three important ideas in your mind as you walk this unfamiliar and challenging path:


There are no timetables for grief. The bereaved do not process through "stages" in an orderly and predictable fashion.  No one will be "done" with grief; by contrast, you will process the grief individually and at your own pace, folding it into your life in a way that becomes more manageable over time.

Grief must be addressed.  This grief cannot be avoided, ignored, or put away.  You must go through it in order to emerge on the other side.  As much as you may not be able to believe it now, your grief will shift and become less all-consuming as time goes by, you will smile and find joy again.  But right now you must follow your instincts and allow your heart, mind and body to grieve.

Grieving requires patience and acceptance.    Grief work from the death of a child, grandchild or sibling is a slow process.  Be gentle and patient with yourself and your family.  Allow yourself to cry, to grieve, and to retell stories as often as needed and for as long as you need to.  You will never forget your loved one; he or she will be with you in your heart and memories for as long as you live. 


Bereaved Parents of the USA believes the grieving process can be made a little easier for you  by standing with you to listen to you, to share with you, to support you, to help you to understand your grief and to help you as you work through it. We have been where you are today. We have survived and are ready to help you. If you think you are ready to attend one of our meetings go to our Calendar page for a schedule of our upcoming meetings. If you can't attend a meeting please find us on Facebook for online support. 


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