Thanks to the human heart by which we live; thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears.
William Wordsworth


If the death of parents and grandparents represents the death of our connections to the past, and the death of our spouse/partner represents that to the present and our seeable future, then the death of a child represents the death of a connection to the future.  Virtually everyone who has incurred this loss agrees that there is no other loss as painful as that of a child.  (While perinatal losses share the same characteristics as the loss of any other aged child, they have additional characteristics that I will address later.)

Read more: Dilemmas


Guilt is a feeling that arises when we believe that we have violated some responsibility, higher principle, or belief.  Guilt carries with it a lowered self-esteem, heightened self-blame, and a feeling that we should do something to absolve ourselves of the wrong we committed.  While guilt can be well founded and realistic, in most cases involving the death of a child it is more of a reaction to feelings of helplessness and responsibility.  Parents begin to believe that they must have done, said, or felt something that contributed to their child’s death.  Parents compare their actions against some idealized standard and if they discover a discrepancy, the death becomes their fault.  Such statements as, “If I had only _______ my child would be alive today!” become part of their thinking when, in reality, there was nothing they could have done to change the course of events.

Read more: Guilt

Parental Relationship

A major concern many parents have after the death of their child is how the loss will affect their marriage.  A common misconception is that parents who have lost a child are more likely to get a divorce.  That is not necessarily true.  Instead, my experience and that of others is that the death of a child does not cause a divorce, it intensifies the nature of the relationship the parents already had.  In working with bereaved couples and individuals, I have seen couples who are open and supportive of each other develop an even stronger relationship.  They lean on each other for support as they strive to make meaning, both individually and as a couple, of the death.  Neither one tries to avoid the pain, but mourns in his/her own particular way.  They recognize that each of them may mourn differently – the father is probably more instrumental and the mother probably more intuitive – and they allow for those differences.

Read more: Parental Relationship