Remembering Bereaved Parents Awareness Month
Each year, 64,000 people die of drug related overdoses. That equates to 128,000 parents who lose a child, and 256,000 grandparents. Dreams of the future are shifted to memories of the past in an instant. Just as having a child is a huge life event, so is losing a child. Both are events that will stick with a parent forever. Though the days keep coming, the pain does not cease. Constant painful reminders lurk behind every corner from shoes sitting by the front door to missed birthdays. Depression, vulnerability to illness, and fractured relationships are all too common byproducts of losing a child. In July, we recognized Bereaved Parents Awareness Month. As the pain never goes away, neither should the compassion of others.
Oftentimes people are too afraid to push the wrong button when confronting someone who has lost a child. What do I say? What do I do? Evidently, they end up doing nothing. This is the wrong thing to do. Your gestures do not have to be grand or extensive to have meaning. If the parent posts something online, like it. It was posted for a reason. They could be trying to say something they are too embarrassed to say in person. Liking the post acknowledges that you have seen their expression of emotion and welcome it. On the same platform, repost something yourself related to the topic. Using the example of addiction, posting an article such as this one increases awareness on the issue. Your loved one will take your small gesture to heart.
In the event a loved one is too overcome with emotion to complete daily tasks, step in for them. Assist with childcare, housework, and errands. Advocate to the community on their behalf. Notify those concerned when the loved one is ready to begin rebuilding their life and accepting visits. Unfortunately, many people believe that when the tears stop, so has the pain. This is not true. Never stop checking in on loved ones. Let them know their loved one has not been forgotten, and neither have they. The holiday season is especially hard for those who have lost children. Do not hesitate to invite them to warm gatherings. This could be exactly what they need, but do not know how to ask. Leaving someone alone is one of the worst things you can do after the passing of a loved one.
Additionally, there are many other ways to show your heartfelt condolences, ongoing support, or even express your own sorrow. First, if you are an active person, begin training for a marathon where donations raised go towards a charity related to the cause of death. You can have t-shirts and different fan gear designed to honor the memory of your loved one. Second, begin a scholarship in the name of who has passed’s honor. Pick a cause that was special to them, and donate money to help someone achieving a goal they strived towards such a sobriety scholarship or educational award. Third, transform the emotions in your chest into a physical masterpiece. There are several different types of art therapy where you can have a tangible memento of your love. Finally, volunteer at an organization in memory of the lost loved one. Participating in rewarding activities such as this have healing powers. As someone who has personal ties to the cause, you can help those in need like no one else.
A quick internet search can lead you to many different support networks for those grieving. Some are very specific such as “Faces of Opioids” Facebook page. This page is for those who have lost a loved one to the opioid epidemic, or are dealing with someone active in the troughs of addiction. The group has special ways to memorialize loved ones such as pillows stitched with their clothing, or adding their face to a memorial wall which is posted online and in public for all to see. Aside from online networks, there are many in person support groups, find one near you here.
There is no manual to losing a child, and there is no manual to standing by someone in the event of losing a child. The grieving needs not to be afraid to ask for help, and loved ones need not to be afraid to step in. Grieving parents are allowed to be sad, and that may take longer than others would like, but that is okay. Traditions may be altered for the new reality, and plans may be cancelled, but it is vital to never let the parent feel misunderstood or ignored. Aside from loss, parents will feel every emotion from confusion and anxiety to guilt and anger. Actively give them meaning and purpose. In the early stages and maybe even later on, they may need something to get them out of bed every morning.
Seabrook goes into communities every day to raise awareness around the issues of substance abuse to assure no more families have to suffer the loss of a child. There is no better time than today to get help for you or someone you love who is struggling with opiate addiction. Seabrook is proud to be on the front line combating the nationwide opioid epidemic by giving our clients the right tools to achieve lasting sobriety. To learn more about our programs and services, including opiate detoxification, call us today: 856-455-7575.