Grief and loss are a normal part of life. But mourning the death of a child is certainly not. Studies have shown that, when a parent’s worst fears are realized, the psychological and physical damage can be more intense than perhaps any other grief response. It makes sense. The loss of a child is the loss of promise, potential. A cruel violation of the natural order.
One detailed study of how parents cope in the aftermath, published in 2008, surveyed 449 parents who had lost a child to cancer 4 to 9 years earlier. They found that, while both mothers and fathers healed over time, about 20 percent still reported unresolved grief even a decade after the loss. The findings also suggest that mothers and fathers, while both bereft, grieve differently. Mothers were more likely to display low psychological and physical well-being overall. Fathers were more likely to report low quality of life, difficulty sleeping, and nightmares.
Here’s the data behind these conclusions:
How Long Does It Take For Parents To Heal?
For the study, researchers asked each parent one simple question: “Do you think that you have worked through your grief?” Four to nine years after the loss of a child, 26 percent of parents (116 participants) reported that their grief remained “unresolved”, and these parents became the focus of the study….
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