There are three basic categories of child loss, according to the child's age:
- Newborn/Stillborn/Miscarriage - The most significant loss occurs at death because the pregnancy period is so full of excitement and expectation, that the result is so horrifyingly contrary to what the parents expected. After that, the loss becomes about resentment of never having known the child, seen her/him, known what they would be like or who they would become. There is also fear about losing future children, particularly if this was a first child. Although highly traumatic, child loss at this stage has the best long term prognosis of healing for the parents, particularly if they have other children. However, if they remain childless, the healing is more unsure.
- Adult Child - Losing an adult child feels wrong to a parent, and there is a sense of guilt that they have outlived their child. There is not just the feeling of having lost someone who they have known, loved and cared about for so long, but about having lost that adult child with all of the joys of education, career and new family. Parents who have lost adult children, suffer greatly, yet they have an easier time holding onto memories that were completed (ie - learned to play ball, graduated college, bought first house, etc). However their feeling of 'missing' the child is possibly the worst of all categories.
- Loss As A Child - All loss of children is devastating and all loss of children will most likely fall into the same courses of understanding and managing. Yet, something specially destructive happens when parents lose a child who is in the middle of childhood. There are a few reasons why:
a) The child was known. They have a face, a voice, a personality, a sense of humor. Unlike loss of a newborn, there is far more specific about this child as a person.
b) Protective Instincts - We are simply wired to protect our children when they are children and so there is a powerful instinct that makes it extremely painful to lose a child during the stage when we are still raising and protecting them. As obvious as it sounds, we have the sense that children are not supposed to die and the wrongness of losing children as children, is somehow more difficult to accept, no matter what our relationship to the child.
c) Aborting Childhood - When childhood abruptly ends, it has a level of unfairness that is just unacceptable. It is like bowling only 3 balls, walking out of a baseball game in the second inning, or only quitting college just before you graduate. We don't accept childhood just ending at a moment's notice and therefore, we have an especially hard time accepting that childhood just abruptly stopped where it did.
d) Regretting what never came to pass. Depending on the child's age, there is like that of a newborn loss, a terrible loss of the future that never was. Whether it was the first step, the first kiss, the first year in college, losing a child in midstream accompanies a yearning for what never came to pass. Parents in this category suffer intently as they see their child's friends grow to new stages, play sports, or music, graduate, etc. It is often so painful for parents to be around the milestones that their child will never enter, that they feel that they have to move away, an easier thing to do if they do not have other children.
e) Missing - Like the loss of an adult child, but more so because of the constant proximity of the child still in childhood, there is a missing of the child, their love, their smell/voice/touch/personality/smile that steals the joy of a grieving parents life, often forever.
In most cases, parents who have lost stillborn or newborn children, have the best hope of moving on with their lives. They will grieve forever, the loss will never go away, but aspects of the process will allow most to continue on as they did before. Regardless of age though, the loss of a child is so devastating, that websites often fear taking it on. I only cover it because I feel it has to be at least touched upon in relation to the work at hand.
And that work is to stop children from dying. Plain and simple. I don't care how awesome Facebook, MySpace and Youtube are, how free we want our speech to be or how profitable online business is, if cyber bullying has the power to drive kids to suicide, then we have to be willing to give up some of the benefits, to reduce the risks.
Please. Lets bring an end to CYBER BULLYING as a driver of youth suicide..