The morning air was still. I switched on my mobile to get updates of a baby girl whom we’ve been praying for the day before. Her Mommy is a mutual friend who had appealed to us to “PRAY! Z is not breathing, did CPR, managed to get light breathing back and are awaiting ambulance to arrive…”. It broke my heart to learn that Baby Z passed on at 8:30pm last night, 21 July 2015. Z was only two months old…
The death of a child can happen in the best of families and to the most capable, careful and loving parents. When a child dies, hopes and dreams are shattered and lives are forever changed. Initial feelings of shock and confusion are combined with questions. What happened? Why me? We are no stranger to child losses, having survived three in our road to parenthood.
The lack of answers to these questions adds to the overwhelming feelings of grief and helplessness. Because child deaths often occur unexpectedly, nearly every parent feels in some way responsible until the facts are explained. Families may also blame a childcare provider or the doctor who told them the child was healthy a short time before the death. Sometimes, even after receiving information about the possible cause of the child’s death, the bereaved parents may find it difficult to accept these facts. It is important that parents should refrain from concluding that something they did caused their child’s death. Child losses is the most painful loss a family can sustain. The impact of a child’s death is pervasive, affecting parents, siblings and the extended family.
Many friends have asked us for advice how to help someone who had just sustained a child loss (be it miscarriages, stillbirths, SIDS or accidents). In Singapore, while we throw grand parities to celebrate a child’s full month and 1st birthday, speaking about a child’s death is ‘taboo’ or ‘inauspicious’ and often avoided. As a result, many bereaved families have no one to turn to and no one to help them in their most desperate time of need. The avoidance by friends and family, unsure of what to say or do, only adds to the pain and isolation felt by bereaved parents. If someone you care about has experienced the death of a child, there are things that you can do to help them through the grieving process.
Credit: First Candle
Child Bereavement Support in Singapore:
No matter how deep your grief and how great your pain, remember that you are not alone. There are resources and support network available to help you through this difficult time. When we were coping with our child-losses, we found comfort in hearing/reading the experiences of others who have traveled this road before us; hence we are in turn reaching out to bereaved parents in our own ways.
CBSS is an informal network of bereaved parents by bereaved parents. They have all found that meeting other bereaved parents is what has made the biggest difference. The hope and comfort which comes from the parent to parent support is simply invaluable. Support group meetings are held every 2nd Thursdays of the month at the NFK Building. The meetings offer a safe, welcoming and understanding haven where parents are all free to talk about their experiences and feelings about the loss of their children. To find out the next support group meeting, click here.
During our bereavement, we did not feel like meeting people. Instead, we retreated into the world of books which provided us much solace and gave us new perspectives to cope with our tragic losses. The CBSS website has a selection of books written by counsellors and psychiatrists, including moving personal accounts by bereaved parents. We ordered most of them from Amazon.com and have been loaning to couples who need them. CBSS has also published “Farewell, My Child” a compilation of shared experiences in child bereavement which you can read online here.
3. Funeral & Memorials
Giving your child a final send off is a part of closure and allows your family and friends share in your grief and comfort you. As difficult as it may be, try and be an integral part of the planning. There are no right or wrong choices: simply do whatever gives you and your family the most comfort.
- Garden of Remembrance Christian Columbarium
- Government-Managed Columbaria – CCK and Mandai Columbarium
- Peace Casket Singapore (we are not affiliated to them in any way, they handled our children, Ashley’s and Joash’s funerals).
None of us will never ‘get over’ the loss. You will only learn, ever so slowly, to live with it. The world will be expecting you to snap out of your bereavement at an astonishing rate. But take all the time you need to cry, to grieve and to heal. Be kind, gentle and patient with yourself while your broken heart tries to mend itself, bit by bit, on this road to recovery. XOXO.