Grieving as a single parent

Grieving for your child if you are a single parent can bring its own additional challenges. If you have other children to support, you might feel that the whole world is on your shoulders and can’t truly share the burden with anyone.

If you have been through a divorce or separation, you might feel guilty about the effect it had on your child before they died, or that your other children now have to navigate their grief with the added dimension of not having their two parents there together. You might even worry that the stress of your breakup caused your child’s illness in some way (although this is not and will never be the case).

The death of your child might mean that you are back in contact with your ex, or spending more time with them than you were previously. This can bring up complicated feelings and challenges, and can be especially difficult if you or they have another partner, or if half-siblings and stepchildren are involved – read more about blended families and stepparents here.

If you are a lone parent because your partner died, your child’s death will undoubtedly bring up earlier grief in a profound way.

Whatever the case, this is bound to feel like a very lonely and isolating experience. Although you might feel no one can understand your pain, it’s important to reach out to other people in your life. Having another adult around can give you much needed support – whether it’s a shoulder to cry on, help with practical chores or someone you can talk about your child with.

Getting support

The Compassionate Friends has local groups and contacts, as well as events and retreats where you could meet other bereaved parents. Find out whether there’s something happening near you. If you can’t take the time out right now, their booklet for bereaved lone parents could give you some ideas of things that could help.

Gingerbread supports single-parent families and could offer you support.

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