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:
    • Flowers
    • 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.

Grieving Hearts