Parents Who Have Lost A Child Explain How It Truly Affected Them

"Parents of kids that have died: How did it affect you?" –– This was today's burning question from Redditor 3storation and it's a tough one.

Few things can change the course of someone's life like losing a child. Those who've experienced the loss and weathered the pain have likened it to the worst pain that can possibly be dealt.

"It changes you forever..."

It changes you forever. There's no going back. Things eventually get better and you find a different level of happiness but there's always that empty space in your heart. I used to be very happy go lucky and lived life day by day. Now I feel like I have to be over prepared for the future just in case.


"It's having a future..."

It destroys you. It's having a future you envisioned for yourself shattered. No two ways about it. Unless you have a great relationship with your partner it can tear you apart. It takes months/years to get back to a good place mentally and even then you're forever changed by it. If you can then you gain an understanding of the world you hope others never need but you're much more compassionate than you ever were.


"It took almost 10 years..."

I pretty much gave up on life. Ate like sh!t, didn't exercise at all. Would go months without brushing my teeth. I'd eat out of the same bowl for days without washing it. Ended up with digestive issues so bad that I was chugging pepto like it was water.

Isolated myself so I lost most of my friends. Couldn't focus at work, so bounced from job to job.

It took almost 10 years, but I eventually came out of that dark place. The pain is still there, but I actually live now, and not just survive.


There are not really any sufficient words to describe it. I had watched my aunt and uncle go through the loss of their son before my daughter died but even being that close to that never could have prepared me for the gut wrenching horror of my own child dying suddenly.

She died at age 2, she would be 15 now.

At first I felt numb, it was terrifying in every way. I felt out of my own self, I know I screamed and cried a lot but I also just existed without feeling anything at times. Sheer exhaustion I think and I had another child to take care of, a 3 month old. At times even know when I think of what happened or am reminded of it somehow it feels surreal like surely that couldn't have actually it was a horror story I read or watched and not a thing I actually had to go through.

I suppose that is my brain trying to get some relief from the pain for awhile.

In some ways it made me more afraid, scared of losing another child or loved one.

But in other ways I felt like, well I already went through hell life, what else ya got!? Kind of angry and like f*** it I don't give a sh!t what happens to me now.

I do not feel I really begin to even deal with her death until a few years ago because I had a newborn like I said, then I ended up having another baby too kind of close together. My life became a whirlwind of just taking care of them. I focused on them so much and my health slowly declined worse and worse over the years.

I feel like I am just now beginning to try to figure out how to really live again for myself. Everything has been about raising my kids. I'm rather exhausted, depressed, have anxiety, and PTSD from it.

There is no going back, there is no being normal, there is only learning to live with what happened and doing my best to be present for my family, and now figuring out how to actually be a healthy human again because as I am getting older it is getting harder to maintain an acceptable level of health (physically and mentally) without a lot of effort.Did I mention I'm tired? Grief it seems, makes one very tired.

And I can be seemingly fine for a long time, and sometimes her birthday or anniversary of her death passes and I'm fine. Some years it hits me like a freight train and I am down for a good long while. This month is the anniversary of her death and I am a big mess this time. Last year it hit me rather hard as well, where as the year before that it did not. Grief is and odd and unpredictable beast.

I still have some fun good times, I can still feel happy. But it is actually getting harder lately as my children get older. I have more time to feel these things lately. When they were little it was always something and the busyness of raising little kids was a distraction from what I was feeling.

And I feel sad for my kids too, that they never got to know their big sister. many a time when my other daughter was little and I saw two little sisters together I would break down ... my heart breaking that my daughter didn't get to have her sister with her.

I do often feel like I am more grateful for my kids, like even during really hard times I am just glad they are just HERE with me.

It did help me better understand people who were suffering loss, to be more empathetic to them.

But at the same time it caused me to be more impatient with people who seem to think life is like this magical fairy ride of happiness and joy. People like that tend to tick me off now where as before they did not. I try to realize they just don't know what this type of pain does to a person and that's ok, the world needs those types too and I wouldn't wish this on anyone. But it isn't something I like to be around anymore. I feel alienated from many people because of my sadness. Like I just do not fit in anymore.

And I hate how people change how they look at me or talk to me when they find out one of my children died. I really hate that. And I hate people asking me how she died. Like yeah....why not ask what she was like instead?! She was a wonderful little person and I rather talk about how wonderful her little life was than the horrible day we lost her.

And one I guess I could call this a positive, I don't break my back working on certain things in life anymore, so many things I now see as a waste of time because life is so freaking short and I shouldn't get so hung up on these details.


"Part of this..."

Lost my best friend to suicide a year ago. Still keep in touch with his dad. "My dreams are shattered" is his go-to refrain about his life following the death of his only child. He seems to just be going through the motions of life now. He just doesn't seem to feel any kind of purpose or drive anymore. It is deeply depressing to witness, and there's really nothing anyone can do about it.

He embraces the idea of stoicism - i.e., don't let things outside of your control bother you - but you can't really live that philosophy 100% of the time. We're all human and have emotions. So as much as he tries to cope he has a difficult go of it.

He feels very guilty. Part of this is because my friend shot himself with the gun his dad bought him. But another piece is just his belief that, more or less, the buck stops with him when it comes to his sons death. He feels like as a dad, if you lose your kid, you must have done something wrong along the way or not parented as ideally as possible. I have tried talking him out of this but I can't get through. After a suicide everyone feels guilty that they hadn't done more (myself included), but it appears that he has an especially bad case of this.


"I understand..."

Over a decade now. Through hell and worse. I am more empathetic, quicker to admit I may not understand fully why people are the way they act (could be a bad day, sick loved one, dead loved one) - who knows sometimes. I am more forgiving,

I understand the importance of living with kindness towards others and more importantly myself. I am mostly happy most days. To the comment posted above, there is always a gap in my heart and soul and I continually strive to mend everyday. It will never be the same, but no day is.


"It ruins..."

It ruins your entire life. The future you saw that you tried to prepare for is no more. Everything that once brought you joy brings nothing but pain and misery. I lost my daughter when she was 3 months (she was born at 26 weeks weighing 1lb) she was a twin and she was my first born. My everything. I knew her before she was born and when we finally met it was like we were one. I could just feel her energy and man was this girl full of love. She smiled so much for a baby. She was such a fighter and to see that fight slowly die in such a little.being destroys you.

To lose a child makes you feel so worthless and hopeless. Yes I have her sister and they are identical but they are not the same person and I love my other daughter so much so that her and her brother are the only reason that I am still alive. Had i lost both of my girls I probably would have killed myself. But having other children to love and take care of keeps me going. There are days though where I feel like ending it all, that I feel like I am ruining my childrens lives because I haven't healed and I haven't stopped blaming myself for my daughters death. But then I see my daughters face and she just smiles at me or my son starts laughing and I know I will be enough for them.

But losing a child kills apart of you. I am praying for every person that has commented. I know your pain and you are not alone. To op if you are a parent and you need someone to talk to please reach out to people, it is ok to need someone. If you are a child wondering if your parents will be ok without you, no they won't so please reach out and talk to someone. If you are just a friend or family member of someone trying to figure out how to help them in their difficult time then ask them because everyone person is different.


"You have to make adjustments..."

Kind of like getting an arm amputated in mid-life. You have to make adjustments going forward with things that you do. And you're reminded that something is missing. You get better with time, and can be happy. But you fall into wonder sometimes, what could they have become.


"I don't know why that one thing..."

Initially there were parts that really killed me. Like after being told he had passed my mind was flooded with visions of a future with him and then seeing that future violently torn away. My son died a few days after being born and would be 13 this year. I remember just being distraught and repeating, "I'll never teach him how to tie his shoes." I don't know why that one thing stuck out but that's what I saw... A future where I'd never be able to teach him how to tie his shoes. In the grand scope of everything that's the one detail that just broke me. The relationship with his mother ended because I was too dumb to be there for her and realize she needed me. I just retreated for awhile.


"My first wife and I..."

Some of the details are...less than pleasant. I just want to give fair warning. My first wife and I were pregnant, and it was a surprise; we weren't married yet, had some adjusting to do, but we managed. We were young, certainly not prepared, but who really ever is, I suppose?

We were about 4 months along, so out of that first trimester danger zone, we thought. As things had gone along, we had started to plan, started thinking of names for a boy, names for a girl, telling our parents and siblings. Generally getting excited, right? This was a big first for both of us, after all, a big first for both our extended families, planned or not, and everyone was on board and supportive.

Then she calls me one night while I'm working graveyard shift across town. She's bleeding, she's in the hospital, and I need to be there 5 minutes ago. I run out of work and get there as fast as my beat-up old Explorer can possibly go. She's in a room, hooked up, IV in, some med student resident occasionally stopping in and saying virtually nothing. I already know at this point. The world I'd imagined, the life ahead of me, it was all gone. Christ, I'd gone back to college to try and do right for this baby that was never going to be. I'd shaped up, started working an extra job on the weekends, read all the baby books, quit smoking, quit drinking, we had both done everything right, damn it, why? I knew, though. It wasn't going to be. She didn't, though. Despite our differences in the years after, bless her for that; she still hoped.

So I pretended to hope, too. I tried to hope. For another hour and a half, I tried to hope so she wouldn't lose that much, on top of everything I knew we already had, if only for a bit longer. Until finally it wasn't the resident who came in. It was our OB. And then she knew too, as he explained that sometimes these things just happen. Sometimes you do everything right and these things still just happen. He left, and I cried for the first time since I was a little kid. I sobbed, and we both cried together until we had no choice but to leave and try to keep living after the world fell down around us. And we thought that was the worst of it.

Because she hadn't been that far along, apparently the thing to do is to "let nature run its course," and clear her body out on its own. And that seemed like a heavy period for a few days as we both sank into a gray depression, which was not a combination that made her feel any better at all. Until suddenly it clearly was not just a heavy flow. I was on the bed for what was probably the 20th consecutive hour when I heard her collapse in the bathroom and start sobbing, the kind of sound that only comes when a part of your soul has gone and won't be back.

I won't try to put in words what I saw, only that for a brief moment we both had to see what should have been our first child. It was terrible. I thought I had hurt up to that point, but that moment tore a piece out of me that will not grow back, not if I had a hundred lifetimes to let it.

Now, years later, we've moved on with our lives separately, and I have a baby daughter more beautiful than I could ever have imagined someone could be. And I love her more than I ever would have believed it possible to love someone, and my life is whole and great. But there is still a part of me that is gone and will never be there again.


"It hurts forever."

Never the same. Nothing is the same. You have a black hole where all the love and affection just disappeared into. What's left is a sadness that no matter what will never go away; a regret and a sort of I wish. It hurts forever.


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