"Survive", what a perfect way to describe what it is like to lose a child. When we lost our son Royce, it seemed like everybody had some form of advice. Some helped and some didn't. So here are some things that helped me and also some advice that I would give to my past self. I understand that everyone grieves differently so I hope that you can reflect on what resonates with you.
When others attempt to offer condolences, understand and have an open heart to the awkwardness that they will feel when they are trying to find the right words
I think that at times when a tragedy happens, the first instinct of someone who loves you is that they want to help fix the situation. By doing so, it may seem that they are only making the situation worse. If you put yourself in their shoes and understand it is hard to see someone hurting, you will see that the things they are saying are coming from a place of love.
Find time to rest
No matter what happens in your life, positive or negative, the world around you will continue on its track and remains "normal". You may feel obligated to continue on that track with the world, but for yourself, things are definitely not normal. Be sure to GIVE yourself time to heal, to contemplate, and to rest. Don't worry about catching up with the world. Worry about taking care of yourself and you'll learn how to do everyday things while feeling grief.
There is nothing you didn't do before nor anything you should have done that could have prevented what happened.
It's so easy when bad things happen to you, to reflect and stay stuck on what you could have done differently to prevent what may have happened. But, with the knowledge you had at the time, you would have done the same thing in that moment that you so desperately want to change. When Royce fell off the bed, we were playing with him and tickling him as great parents would. If I went back, I know I would still be that parent playing with my child and nothing can change that terrible accident.
Be true to the feelings that are in your heart and even at times when you feel joy, when others are expecting sorrow, be sure to express only the true feelings of your heart.
Do not feel bad about not showing sadness. Do not feel bad about feeling joy. There would be moments after Royce passed away where I would feel a spark of joy but would feel guilty for having any sense of joy. This is wrong. I truly believe we are not meant to feel sad all the time and I know that Royce would not want me to continue in sadness. At times I felt like people were expecting me to be sad, and I felt a sense of obligation to feel sadness for them, but I eventually realized it is not about what people expect from me. It is so important for you to be true to the feelings in your heart. Let yourself feel.
There is so much more I want to say, so keep following along for a part 2 and 3 to Insights on How to Survive Child Loss.