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Special Report: Grieving the loss of a child, Part 2

There's a part of us, especially in the beginning, where if the person who died walked through the door we would not be surprised. Part two of Donna Terrell's journey into exploring ways to cope with the loss of a loved one.
“There's a part of us, especially in the beginning, where if the person who died…if they walked through the door we would not be surprised. We would say, ‘Oh, I thought so. I thought so.’”

Sometimes it's hard to face the reality of death. Donna Terrell still struggles with it after her daughter Queah died a few months ago. And she’s not the only one. It often happens with a major loss – like the loss of a child.

Greg Adams is the director of the Center for Good mourning and Pal-care. He's going to listen and analyze the grief of a couple whose son died, and help us to better understand the complexity of grief.

Interview with Greg Adams
Analysis of grief with Greg Adams

Amy Smith's five-year-old son Joel died a few months ago from brain cancer. Like many parents, she looks back.

“Sometimes, when people are dealing with the loss of such a close bond, they feel there was something more they could done. Do you ever feel that way?”

“Yes I do.,” Amy said. “I think should we have done the alternative treatment sooner. Should you have insisted on this or that.”

“Our primary responsibility for our children is to help them grow up and have a good, long life,” Greg said. “And when they don't do that, we can have a sense of failure. ‘I didn't do my job as a parent. I'm alive and my child is not.’”

And in some sense, we wind up having to put ourselves on trial.

That’s a feeling Greg says is sometimes hard to avoid. But he stresses that it needs to be a fair trial.

The smile on Joel's father Bobby lights up the screen when he talks about his son. Donna asked a question with a word she uses all the time, but with grief, everything is different. One size doesn't fit all.

“But in the end, you lost Joel.”

“I don't like the word ‘lost,’” Bobby said. “He went home.”

“I've heard other folks that don't like the word lost because it has a connotation of carelessness and irresponsibility. You lose your keys. In that sense, I'd have to affirm him in that sense of lost. It doesn't fit.”

They say, the first year is the toughest. And for some, that sixth month mark is worse than the beginning. Family and friends all go back to their normal lives, expecting you to be better. It can be a time when a grieving person needs support the most.

“That first year for most people, what they're experiencing is that each time of the year, and that experience they go through, the person is still dead,” Greg said. “It's the fall and the leaves are changing and they're dead. It's thanksgiving and they're gone. And Christmas, and wait. You know that, but experiencing that is different.

“Someone wrote a poem once saying ‘I thought your dying was the worst thing and then you stayed dead.’ It's the idea of having to experience it all the way through.”

The exact time may vary from person to person, but at some point a griever should be able to move forward with life and take all the love and memories along.
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