According to the Life Change Index Scale, the death of a spouse or child ranks as the number one most stressful life event one can endure. The death of a close family member also ranks near the top, but it can be much worse if the death was unexpected or the result of a wrongful act. Coping with wrongful death is hard but families can do it if they stick together.
Coping with the Loss of a Spouse
The Life Change Index Scale mentioned above rates the death of a spouse as 100/100 in terms of stressors, making it the most difficult experience one can endure (along with the death of a child). Accordingly, the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Aging stated that taking care of yourself is the most important thing you can do when coping with the loss.
Take Care of Yourself
Losing a spouse and potentially raising a family alone is stressful and time-consuming, but try to:
- Eat right
- Avoid coping with drugs, alcohol, or smoking
Do Not Isolate Yourself
Grief experts also recommend that surviving spouses make time in their weekly schedule to meet with friends and other family members, as isolation can lead to severe depression and anxiety. Moreover, a grieving spouse should remember that the healing process will take time, but eventually there will be a light at the end of the tunnel.
Support Your Children
Also remember that, no matter how hard this is, you are not the only one who lost a loved one. Be sure to support your children through this process. Grieve with them.
Helping Children Cope with the Loss of Their Parent
Even though telling your children that their parent has died is hard enough, know that the process does not end there. You will need to help your children cope with the wrongful death and unexpected loss, but these tips may help:
Know that Children React Differently
Reactions and coping mechanisms for each of your children may vary greatly. Very young children may not fully comprehend that death means forever, which means they may have no reaction to the news. Older children and teens may react in anger. Because the death is so unexpected, children may be in shock or even deny the news entirely.
It is important to accept your child’s reaction and not make your children feel bad for how they handle the news. It is important to let children to express their grief freely.
Be Upfront With Your Children
Even though your first instinct in every situation is to protect your children, you need to be upfront about the situation. Do not sugarcoat it or tell your children that the parent “went away” or will not “be around anymore.” This may lead children to believe that their parent will one day come back.
As time goes on, questions may arise. Answer them as best you can. Continue to remain sensitive to their ability to process the information. If the child wants to talk about his or her parent, allow it. Some children may want time to themselves. Give them that space but, at the same time, do not allow them to become so isolated they completely withdraw from others.
Spend as Much Time with Your Children As You Can
Remember that none of you should be going through this alone. You may want to give your child time to grieve, but make sure he knows that you will still be there when he needs you or wants to talk. This will help make them feel more secure and could help the child cope with the death of the other parent.
Talk to Your Children about Therapy
Do not shy away from discussing potentially seeking help. Suggest you all go as a family or let the children know that you support them seeing a therapist on their own. Alert each child’s guidance counselor and discuss the possibility of the counselor setting up meetings with your children to discuss the loss.
Coping with the Loss of a Child
Perhaps one of the most horrific life experiences is the loss of a child to a tragic accident. Parents may feel lost in the perceived notions that they could have done something to avoid the accident or that they are somehow to blame for their child’s death. Of course, this is a common step in the process of mourning, and is an emotional response to a child’s death that nearly all parents endure. Coping with the wrongful death of a child can feel nearly impossible, but these tips may help.
Do Not Blame Yourself
Your children are your whole world and you would do everything to protect them, but sadly, we cannot protect children from everything. What happened is not your fault, and no one blames you.
Do Not Hide Your Emotions
When grieving the loss of a child, do not be afraid to seek professional help from a counselor or trusted spiritual advisor. Following any tragic loss, the implications of “bottling up” the grief can be enormous, ranging from major mental health impacts to an obvious physical toll.
Aside from counseling, other coping mechanisms include journaling, engaging in familiar family activities, and talking about the child freely and often.
Support Your Family
Remember that while you lost a child, so did your spouse. Also keep in mind that your children lost a sibling. Supporting your family through this process is imperative and it may even help you heal.
Coping with the Loss of a Parent
Regardless of how old you are, your parent is still your parent. So whether you are 16 or 60, coping with the wrongful death of a parent will be hard.
Support Your Family
As stated in the above section, in their grief, people sometimes forget that they are not alone and that others are grieving too. Supporting your siblings and the other parent can help you heal, but do not feel that you must hold up the family and therefore cannot grieve.
Talk About It
Do not bottle up your emotions. Talk about your feelings with a family member or close friend or go to therapy.
Contact a compassionate attorney today.
Wrongful death is a difficult and unexpected situation and while nothing can bring back a family member who died as a result of a wrongful act, wrongful death lawsuits are available for close family members who recently lost a loved one due to a negligent act of another person.