Loss of a Child: A Pain Like No Other

All loss is hard. All loss is lonely. But there is something about child-loss that puts it in a unique category.

I have experienced other types of loss. When my very much loved father died in 2001, I was devastated. My father was a wonderful, kind man, a devoted husband and father. I grieved for him. I will forever miss having him in my life. I will treasure my wonderful memories of him forever.

Then, in 2006, my 23-year-old daughter suddenly died. In a single phone call, my life as I knew it came to a complete halt. I lost all hope and joy, and the worst was yet to come. Indeed, in the early days and weeks,  being able to survive the death of my daughter was seriously in question.

That is why, six months after our children’s death, my fellow bereaved parent, Diana Dimasi, we wrote this piece together. We had been told there must be something wrong with our mental health because we are still obsessing over the loss of our children. You may hear a lot of anger in our words because child-loss is not fair and anger is an immense part of it — raw life-changing anger at the unfairness of it all, much more anger then is associated with other losses.

So we tried to put into words what the pain, heartache, anger, loss of hope and joy does to one when they lose their beloved child.  Even our words cannot fully come close to the way our lives are shattered after child-loss

But it is my hope that more people will understand what bereaved parents go through, and how it is the worst loss of all.

The worst loss of all.

I want you to try to imagine, if you can, never seeing your child again, never hearing her laugh, never hearing the sound of their voice, never smelling the scent you have come to recognize as your child’s, never hearing them say “I love you.” Nothing – just silence, emptiness. Now, imagine never seeing your child’s smile, never seeing her upset or happy, never watching her sleep.

Imagine missing them so much that you are twisted up inside and the pain stays with you 24/7. You smell your child’s pillow, clothes, you look at her pictures and can only cry. You have never felt longing like this in your life! Longing to hear her voice, to see her face again, and to know deep in your soul you cannot fix it. Now imagine every single thing that used to give you joy and pleasure turns into hurt and despair overnight. Not a gradual thing, but going from pleasure to hurt, from happiness to sadness, from peace to no peace, changing overnight.

Everything you loved now hurts like hell.

For example: I used to love music. It gave me pleasure. I didn’t realize how much music was a part of my life and how it is everywhere. Now I cannot listen to it; it sears me like a red-hot knife. Every song reminds me of the void in my life without my child. I am not unique in that pain – if you lost a child you would know.

That is just one little example of how your life is affected by the loss of your child.

You also feel the loss with your other children. You still love your other children just as much as always, but as hard as it is, even they hurt you now, because when you see them, you feel the loss of the child that died not being with their siblings. There is a piece missing, a person missing; your whole life doesn’t fit anymore. Things that felt right, now feel wrong. And of course there is always the missing, the horrible gut wrenching, out of your control missing.

As good parents, we were always able to fix things or make things better for our children. This we cannot fix, cannot make it better. So on top of everything else you are feeling, you also feel helpless…out of control and hopeless…and this is universal.

Are you starting to imagine now how it feels?

Day after day, month after month, and no matter what you are doing or who you are talking to, a tape of your child plays over and over in your mind: your child when she was a baby, a laughing happy little girl, a cute young teen, a wonderful young man or women. It plays in your head, and you do not want to forget even a single second of your beautiful child’s life.

And that is a fear you have, that as time passes you will start to forget

This is what it really feels like: A part of you has died… a real, beautiful, living part of you has died… and you are still living, left behind to try to pick up the pieces of your shattered life and not having a clue where to even begin. No wonder a high percentage of marriages break up, parents have breakdowns, turn to alcohol, drugs or a destructive way of life.

A part of you does not exist anymore and it is scary as hell.

That is why when we hear other people say to us: “I want the old you back” or “It’s been a 6 months, and don’t you feel better yet?” or “You are making it harder on yourself” or “grief can become a selfish thing you know” — when we hear these, we can only shake our heads and feel sadness and hopelessness, because there is no way our lives will ever be like it was when our child was alive.

Now go on and put on your favorite CD to listen to, enjoy the music. Go home and hug your children, listen to them laugh, watch them smile, smell their scent. And please do not tell me how I should feel.

Louise Lagerman

More Articles Written by Louise

Louise is a mother to three: two sons, Eric and James, and her daughter Keren, who died in 2006 at the age of 23. Louise has worked in health care for many years in the geriatric field. She lives with her husband Steven outside of Houston, Texas. A year ago, she created and opened up Grief Support website and message board with friend and fellow bereaved mother Gladis Alcorta. Grief support now has over 500 members who share and depend on each other for support. Louise can be reached through her website for speaking engagements or writings and of course support on her Grief support site, http://griefsupport.proboards.com/ or her personal email txlouise@aol.com Her favorite quote is by Jason Reeves, In my own way I take you everywhere I go and it feels like Home.

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  • Cyndi Brown says:

    Well written, Louise; and let me also say that the reality of our loss is so far beyond the ‘imagine’ as to not even be in the same ballpark … I have experienced many losses, but nothing touches the pain that now walks with me every day.

  • Bonnie says:

    I was looking at something else when this website appeared. I lost my son Matt 8 years ago and I am still missing him just as much as I did the day he died.I could have written the article. Thank you so much.

  • judy parks says:

    This makes 2times for me .lost my 24yr.old son to suicide 24yr.ago. Jan.2010n lost my 42 yr. old son to massive heart attack. He had eaten breakfast w/ his brother then went to yard to walk around. Darrell said ”mama” Paul don’t look right & lools very swollen. Told Darrell to help Paul get clean clothes on while i called 911. Soon as he got briefs on he lay back on bed & closed his eyes. he was gone ,not a sound.I am going crazy crying everyday, guilt eating me up. i think if i had gotten him to hospital that night maybe he could have been saved.I have talked to drs. & lots of people & they don’t think so. It don’t stop me from searching for answers even tho i realize nothing can bring him back.I am completly broken. I desire your prayers.
    Judy

    • Audrey says:

      I am so sorry for your loss. My 24 year old son died almost 6 years ago to suicide. I absolutely hate to think of others feeling this constant loss and pain. I know it has to be horrible to go through another loss so great.

  • Teri Reagon says:

    There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of my son who passed away suddenly at 24 yrs old, if people who have not lost a child let you grieve, and not say a word to you, or don’t make remarks like get over it, or we as parents who lost a child to diminish other people’s feeling, or when someone says horrid things like, it’s not just about you, it puts a parent back down to the 1st day of their child’s loss, it’s happened to me to many times, then it’s back to the darkness of hell, or just complete denial of acceptance. I’m so Glad you posted this for us and others who haven’t lost a child read this,,My prayers are with you and your Loss, thank you so much,, Teri

  • I am holding you all close to my heart,may you feel the love and light of your beautiful child ALWAYS
    For we are survivors.

  • I have a seven month old son I can only imagine how your are feeling after the loss of your daughter. I am so sorry for your loss but pray that you wil live with her through her memories.

  • BigD says:

    Dear Louise,
    Thank you for this post. Ever since I lost my 26 year old son, Nickolas, to leukemia, I cannot seem to get people to understand how painful it is and how I will never be the same person I was when my beautiful son was still alive. It has only been eight months, but, most of the people in my life expect me to be “over it” by now. It makes me even more angry and sad to know the depths of their lack of understanding. I was wondering if you would give me permission to post this article on my blog? I have been journaling our journey through my son’s cancer since he was diagnosed. Now it is more about my pain and grief at losing my precious son. Thank you Louise and I am so sorry about the loss of your daughter. You could email me or just post back here. My blog is http://www.dancindianern.blogspot.com Thank you again Louise for sharing your experience with us.
    Sincerely, Diane

    • Dear Diane
      I wrote to your blog
      Your son was so handsome I am so sorry
      Yes of course you may post what I wrote on your blog all I ask is that you use my nane.
      No one understands more then a grieving parent
      You can always find me on FB as Louise Lagerman
      or on my Grief Support site
      http://griefsupport.proboards.com/
      I hope we talk again
      Love and Light
      Louise

  • Donna says:

    Thank you, and you are on target. Some self centered friends think that I should be focusing on their problems, and be their for them – I feel as bad, or worse, then the day that I heard the news. It has been 7 months since my 23 year old risk adverse son died in Tanzania while serving in the Peace Corp. It still seems like I am living a bad nightmare, and things are off-kilter. Nothing will ever be the same.

    But, I have two other sons, a husband, a job, a good family – so I keep on chugging.

    If you are going through Hell, keep on going.
    Winston Churchill

    • Dear Donna,
      at seven months you are just coming out of shock.
      Be very gentle with your self and do not push your self.
      It takes allot of time to begin living in this life again after we lose our child and always connect with other grieving parents.
      It really does help
      Love and Light
      Louise

      • cathy says:

        I read your article and felt the pain you are going through two fold. Since I have lost two of my sons it seems that i have stayed in this mental state half my life. my oldest son died when he was 24 and my youngest son died when he was 34. I keep asking myself why am i still here. There is no reason behind the deaths of my sons. I feel as though i have failed has a parent.

        It is so hard for family members to understand why I cannot be the same person and i feel as though i have to put on this face of being happy. how can you be happy when inside you feel as though Life is not worth anything anymore.

  • Barbara Donnelly says:

    I related to all that was written.

    I lost my son to a heart attack two and half years ago and everyday – I get up and take the walk. It is so true that grief is selfish. Some days it is so hard to get through. I wear a leather bracelet that says hope on it.

    Now I am at a point where I try to grieve in private. I know it has been hard for my friends and family to watch me go through this. I love them and thank them for all they have done. It is getting easier to accept but I know this is something I will never get over.

  • Debbie Drepaul says:

    Dear Louise..
    I lost my son on September 2, 2016…..he was riding his bike coming home from his best friend wedding …n was hit by a drunk driver its still under investigation….Michael is was 26 yrs…11days to go for his 27 birthday….I miss him n my days does not go too well all i do is to think about him n cry…..he was a wonderful son…i go to visit him at the cementy….u can see him on my Facebook at debbie cecil drepaul…n view his funeral at mikey Ramnath RIP on utube…….please i will u to help

  • My 14 years son Zafeer Bin Munawar died in a road accident, while coming back from his school here in Muscat, Oman. I am from Pakistan and working as a professor. Me and my wife are in complete shock. My two more children, Nusair and Unaiza are also very sad.

    Please advise us.

    Kind Regards,

    Munawar

    • Deanna says:

      My 22 yr old son died in an accidental overdose many states away from me, this past Tuesday. I have no income, no health insurance, a healing fractured pelvis, no vehicle that would travel that far as he lays in a Public Medical Examiners morgue waiting to be picked up by a funeral home for cremation that I have no money for. The Medical Examiners office will keep him for 2 months if no one claims him they will cremate him themselves. I am angry that so many offer uplifting prayers but not help with a proper burial. He would have given his last ten dollars to a stranger or friend if they needed it.

  • Maryanne Jodoin says:

    Thank you for exkresing the feelings I can not write . Putting out there what I feel and care . I miss Jesse more then I dare .

  • Lana Quick says:

    I just lost my lil Braiden on Oct 4th,2017.My lil guy was only 6 and HPIV took him from me,his 2 older sisters and his twin brother Brailen,who is now lost without his best friend and his bubby.I read this and it was like I wrote it myself.Im so sorry for your loss.I thought I was just crazy for feeling like I do.Thank you for sharing.💔😪