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Losing a child: how grief counselling can help

A woman's handing holding a tissue to symbolise griefIf you’ve lost a child through miscarriage, stillbirth or in the short time after birth, the aftermath can leave you asking many questions:

“How do I deal with questions from well-meaning family members and friends?”

“How do men and women experience grief differently, and how can I ensure my relationship survive this difficult time?”

“I know I’ll feel sad around certain milestones, but how do I cope when I’m struck by acute grief at random and unexpected times?”

“I want to find a way to remember my baby in a special and lasting way but I just don’t know where to begin?”

You can find the answers to these questions and many more by talking with a professional counsellor.

Losing a child

The loss of a much-wanted child is, for many people, the saddest and most difficult experience they will face in their lifetime. Yet, even then, our Australian tendency to ‘just get on with it’ and our reluctance to seek help can be strong.

Well-meaning people can say “get on with your life”, “try again for another child”, “it’s nature’s way”.

But the grief you experience after losing a child is very individual and personal to you. The job of the counsellor is not to tell you how to feel, but to help you understand and express the many emotions you’ll be feeling and to help you with strategies to get through each day.

In fact, many counsellors come to the role because they’ve experienced loss themselves.

Can you just talk to friends and family instead?

It’s so important to have a strong support network of family and friends that you can lean on during difficult times.

But confidential counselling can be a valuable supplement to that support network; a chance to express difficult emotions, including anger and guilt, without fear of judgement or repercussions; a friendly and reassuring voice on the line, who is there to listen, at any time.

Remember, counselling can also help family members and friends of those who have experienced a loss to cope with their own sadness and to find the right words to say.

Do you feel guilty about seeking help?

Some people feel guilty about seeking help, as they believe many others have it worse than them. But the death of a child, at any stage of development is a tragedy no matter how early, no matter how long ago, no matter how many children you had before or have had since.

Counsellors will help you to understand that your feelings of loss – no matter what your personal situation – are valid and justified.

Are you worried counselling will hold you back?

Counselling can help you to process difficult emotions and understand why you feel the way you do; but just as importantly, a trained counselling can provide professional advice and practical strategies to help you get through each day.

Their role is as much about giving you reasons to look forward and keep hope, as it is about helping you to find ways to remember your loss.

– written by the Small Miracles Foundation

Image credit: pixelbliss/123RF Stock Photo

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