Surviving the Initial Days
Leading up to the service/memorial:
- Remind yourselves to breathe
- Drink fluids, even if you are not thirsty
- Eat a little something to maintain your strength, even if you’re not hungry
- Rest your body, even if you cannot sleep
- Think about your child’s beliefs and faith
- Keep in mind the number of mourners that might attend a service. This will help determine the size of the service/memorial.
- Ask for ideas from clergy or the funeral director about what needs to be done
- Place a letter or note in with your child.
- Decide on a family plot or single (if burial occurs). If possible you might want to have your child placed between or near your final resting place
- Depending on their age, include the surviving siblings in the decisions about:
- Favorite items or photos to be placed in with their sibling
- Photos to be displayed at service/calling hours
- Clothes their sibling will be laid to rest in
- Stories to be shared at the service (even if they are shared by someone else)
- Designs & style of marker or monument
During the calling hours, mass, service & burial:
- Continue to drink fluids
- Keep mints handy to moisten your mouth & keep your blood sugar up
- Sit every so often
- Ignore people’s clumsy comments. No one knows what to say. Just realize that they are there because they love you and your child.
- Take a moment & notice just how many people your child & your family have touched.
- Hug your surviving children & family
- Some people clip a piece of their child’s hair for a keepsake
- Some people take a flower from each arrangement & have it dried or pressed
- Have a friend keep track of gifts & kind gestures. Have them assist you with thank you notes later on. Some families choose to mark a year’s anniversary with the thank you notes.
In the days following the service & burial:
- Continue to drink fluids & eat at least one meal a day.
- Rest your body.
- Do daily rituals like getting dressed, brushing your teeth, making your bed, etc. There is comfort in anything that feels somewhat familiar
- Be gentle with yourself. You will be forgetful and clumsy. It will take a long time to do the simplest of things.
- If you want company, ask for it. If you want to be alone, ask for it.
- Allow yourselves to feel the “sharp” agony of it.
- Every so often, attempt to look up & count your blessings that are still around you. (Something as small as hearing a bird outside your window or as wondrous as feeling a hug from a loved one).
- Treasure every fleeting moment of peace or calm. Later on in your journey they will become more frequent.
- Hold their pillow, stuffed animal or something that still has their unique essence on it.
- Talk to them… out loud, in your mind…whatever feels natural.
- Some people need to scream in a pillow, cry in the shower, car or when the other children go to school. Let it out when you can.
- Take it one breath at a time and realize that your life will forever be changed
- See your physician. The extreme emotional trauma that you are going through will affect every aspect of your life, including your health.
- Let others help you. There are a million little things that others can do for you:
- Mow your yard
- Grocery shop for you (difficult – every item seems to be your child’s favorite)
- Do errands
- Write thank you cards
- Cook meals that can be frozen
- Walk your pets
- Do your laundry or clean your house
- Listen to your stories about your child
- Sit quietly with you while you cry
The grief will not go away. Over time… it will become “softer” and “smoother”, like a cloak that you wear in memory of your beloved child. It will be a constant reminder of the amazing child who was here for a brief time… until you’re reunited again… in God’s time.
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