Am I still a mum or dad? Grieving for your only child

Losing a child no matter what the circumstances leaves an enormous gap. But for parents who have lost their only child, this gap is amplified to an extent that seems unthinkable. All the possibilities that the future held seem lost.

Being a childless parent means that you can feel isolated even among other bereaved parents who still have surviving children. Some parents describe it as feeling like a ‘misfit’ or ‘outsider’ – that there is no place for a parent without a child.

Like with all forms of grief, there are no easy fixes. It’s about learning to adapt to your new normal. You might have more grieving to do for the loss of the future you expected. You’ll have to find your own way to establish your identity as a parent – because no matter what, the love for your child will always be a part of you.

Parents who are further down the line say that it can be helpful to stay involved with your community. You could try taking on a bigger role in your religious group, for example. Or volunteer to help out at your local community centre.

There is also a lot to gain from taking time to nurture relationships with other people in your life. Finding passion in things like work, creative hobbies or sport can add another dimension and give you something to focus on – setting goals for yourself can add meaning to your days and weeks. Or maybe you want to be part of a cause that’s important to you.

Further reading