As you approach the six-month mark, you may be noticing that your sadness and longing for your child feel more intense. You may have noticed that it is becoming to feel “more real.” Many parents report that the six-month mark was their “lowest point”. It is often a time when the bereaved start to realize the permanence of their loss.
The reality can hit hard and the finality of things, like the completion of the investigation, can really hurt. Family and friends still care and want to support you, but they need to return to the routine of their lives. The numbness feels gone, and many are left wondering where life will take them. This can feel so daunting.
Some parents have expressed their fear around making decisions and plans for your future. Are you getting pressure to “move on”? Removing the car seats out of the car or putting away highchairs can seem heartbreaking. What should you do with their room, toys, and clothes? Do you take pictures down? Leave them all up? These are very personal and emotional decisions. Do not allow others to pressure you into removing items or getting rid of possessions.
Your child’s possessions may provide you joy, help you face reality, and/or support your grief. Your perspective about them is likely to change over time- providing happiness on some days and sorrow on others. This is all normal. There is no correct length of time to decide what to do with your child’s belongings.
Family decisions around family planning may also loom. It is still so hard to imagine a future without your child, let alone another child. Possibly you have decided that your heart can never handle the pain of losing another child, or children are no longer in your life plan. How do you get to the emotional place of taking the ‘risk’ of having another child, if in fact, that is what you want to do? You may be concerned about overprotection or avoidance of attachment to the new child for fear of losing him or her. Perhaps you are physically unable to bear another biological child.
Whatever your choice may be, whatever your future holds- you will need support to emotionally process having subsequent children- whether naturally, by adoption, otherwise, or not at all.
The SUDC Foundation has services to connect you with others who understand. They include a parent support group for all your questions. We also have a specific group dedicated to families contemplating family planning decisions in the wake of a loss to SUDC. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to join any of these groups.
Along with concerns about the future, some parents report fears around their health and the health of other immediate family members. Recognize you may not always be on the same page as your partner or family, which may leave you feeling more isolated during this difficult time. You don’t have to be alone in any of these life-changing decisions. All these questions and fears are raised over and over by families at the SUDC Foundation. There are no easy answers, however our website is a good place to start for support and guidance. We provide guidelines for the testing of subsequent children and family members. Go to sudc.org >Member Services > Medical Information > Medical Care After SUDC.
Remember that if you choose to have another child, if you can smile and laugh now at moments in your day, if you choose to put away your son’s baseball hats or your daughter’s violin, it is NOT a betrayal to them. Your healing is a beautiful tribute to the life that they lived, especially when the laughter is from a memory they created or the warmth they left in your heart.
Don’t forget that we are here to support you at all stages.
Keep in mind some helpful tips below from SUDC parents that helped them make it through the six-month mark.