Four years ago, I lost my beautiful 23-year-old daughter, Keren, on March 18, 2006. Therefore, I know firsthand how painful it is to lose a child. At first, I really didn’t think I would survive, and almost didn’t. I knew I needed help and reached out through the internet to find other grieving parents, who would understand my pain and grief. I needed to know that I was not alone.

At that time, I couldn’t bring myself to attend a grief group, or even leave my house. I felt that I could barely stand up because I was so weighed down by grief. So for me, the computer was the only avenue to reach out for help. I found the help I was seeking and I wanted to give back by reaching out to aid other grieving parents. So I started an online grief support message board, with my friend and fellow bereaved mother, Gladis Alcorta.

I felt so alone till I started bonding with other bereaved parents. Even though I was surrounded by family and friends, I did not personally know another parent who had lost a child.  I was beginning to feel bitter and rejected by life, everything I believed in or thought I knew didn’t seem to make sense anymore. I was withdrawing into myself and even questioning if life was still worth living after the loss of my beloved daughter.

But then as I started sharing and talking about my child online with other grieving parents, I didn’t feel so isolated in my pain anymore. There were other wonderful moms and dads out there who were feeling just as I was. As we shared our fears, uncertainties, heartaches, sorrows and even our hopes, a little light started to come back into our lives. Very faint at first, but the more we shared, wrote, and talked about our grief and our beloved children; slowly the light began to brighten.

A single thread is easily broken, but when many are gathered together, they become stronger and cannot be torn. Our sorrow has brought us together, and our website has become a tapestry of love for us and others who have lost their beautiful children. We know they are still with us and that we will see them again one day. Through this capacity to love, we still live and our love will go on. We are survivors.

This is for all the parents new on this grief journey. We all grieve differently and there is no time table on grief, but for me, at first I could not feel any joy or happiness. All I felt were small moments of comfort.  So I did little, simple things to bring myself comfort. Here are some things I did and you can do as well to bring yourself moments of comfort:

-Bond with a new pet
-Spoil yourself a little
-Take a vacation
-Take a class on something you have always found interesting
-Take long hot baths
-Take up walking or a sport

-Read a book

-Work in the garden

It really helps to keep your child’s memory alive and share with others. Some ways you can do this are:

-Doing something in your child’s name
-Create a memorial (Online or elsewhere)
-Share your memories of your beloved child with others who want to listen

There are a few things I learned the hard way after my loss. It is very important to know:

– The first two years after losing a child are hell on earth.
– What you are feeling is perfectly normal.
– Sharing and bonding with other parents along the grief path helps.

The worst thing you can do is listen to the advice of people who have not experienced the loss of a child. Unfortunately, there are people out there that think they are right and something is wrong with you. Many of them do not understand and will tell you things such as, “You need to get over this and move on” or “You shouldn’t celebrate your child’s life.”

To celebrate, talk and write about our children keeps them alive to us. You need not feel so alone and that is why groups like ours can be so helpful. We are here for you, we understand, we know. For our pain is yours and after a bit of time you will see a little light come back into your life. We are survivors and I truly believe with all my heart that our children want us to heal and always remember the good times. Our children are still with us and watching over us.

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Louise Lagerman

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. 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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