Butterfly Angels


The Compassionate Friends - Potomac Maryland Chapter
Hope, Health, Healing after the Death of a Child

Potomac Maryland Chapter

Helpful Tips

There is no training or preparation for how to handle the many aspects of life when a child dies. The following offers a non-exhaustive list of common experiences that many parents often feel in this time of chaos. You may find it helpful to know you are not alone or the only one having such experiences.

Most bereaved parents experience one or more of the following in the various stages of grieving, especially in the early days. Be kind to yourself and realize, with good support and understanding, you will eventually feel better.

  • Feeling physically exhausted, having difficulty sleeping,
  • Not wanting to go to sleep or get up.
  • Saying to ourselves and others, If only I had . . . .
  • Keep asking Why?
  • Sensing the loved oneís presence by expecting the child to walk in the door or phone you at the usual time.
  • Hearing the voice or seeing the childís face.
  • Needing to tell and retell and remember things about the child and the experience of death.
  • Crying at unexpected times.
  • Feeling able to cope and then falling back again, three steps forward, two steps back.
  • Feeling depressed.
  • Feeling tightness in the throat, heaviness in the chest, or a lump in the stomach like a rock.
  • Having an empty feeling that seems indefinable.
  • Experiencing appetite loss.
  • Wandering aimlessly, forgetting a thought in the middle of a sentence, neglecting to finish tasks, feeling restless, looking for activity but canít concentrate.
  • Having respiratory reactions; excessive yawning, gasping, hyperventilating.
  • Experiencing feelings of anxiety; sometimes specific and other times without form or content.
  • Thinking you are losing your mind.
All these reactions and more are natural and normal. It is important not to deny your feelings, but instead learn to express them. Realizing you are not alone in having these reactions is helpful. Your balance is regained slowly through understanding and working through the grief process. It is said that the bereaved underestimate their ability to survive. Many bereaved parents, siblings and grandparents are proof that the self-help process in support groups can make a huge difference in healing. Often friends and associates donít know what to say and from this may say things that are unintentionally hurtful or say nothing at all.

Potomac Maryland Chapter
The Compassionate Friends
798 Kimberly Court East
Gaithersburg, MD 20878

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