Losing a Child: A Parent’s Worst Nightmare

Three southeast Michigan families share their stories of facing the unthinkable – death of their kid – fighting through the grief and continuing to live and love and, yes, even laugh

Seven-year-old Timmy Vachon spent the last 24 hours of his life in the arms of his mother, somewhere familiar and warm, where he felt loved and safe. It was the perfect place to take his last breaths – for him and for her.

“I memorized him,” she recalls. “I held him and told him how much we loved him. I can’t tell you how healing that was for me. I had some time with him to figure out what I was going to do with the rest of my life.”


Anne Vachon of Troy faced every parent’s worst nightmare when, days after her precious boy was struck by a snowmobile at a local ski area, she learned that her only son was showing no signs of brain activity. Per Michigan law, a second set of brain activity tests would be required before he could be detached from the machines keeping him alive. Anne spent those 24 hours lying next to Timmy in his hospital bed.

On Feb. 4, 2007, Timmy died. And so began the long and excruciatingly difficult grief journey for Anne and her husband Marc – a journey that no parent can ever be prepared to take.

Approximately 53,000 children die each year in the United States, according to the National Center for Child Death Review Policy and Practice. That means each year more than 100,000 parents face the unthinkable – the loss of a child. With that loss comes the reality that the hopes, dreams and expectations they held for their son or daughter will never be realized. And yet life goes on – somehow.

Processing the unthinkable

The early days after Timmy’s death were “torture” for Anne.

“At first, you live hour to hour. I couldn’t think of anything past one hour,” she recalls. “Then, slowly, you start living day to day.”

“Whenever a child dies, it’s too soon, and it’s unnatural,” says Sister Beverly Hinson. “Parents shouldn’t bury their children, and they’re always fighting against that unnaturalness.”

Author and grief counselor Alan Wolfelt, Ph.D., says that it’s very common for bereaved parents to experience a state of numbness in the early days and weeks after their child’s death.

“This numbness serves a valuable purpose: It gives your emotions time to catch up with what your mind has told you,” explains Dr. Wolfelt, director of the Center for Loss and Life Transition in Ft. Collins, Colo. “These feelings of numbness and disbelief help insulate you from the reality of the death until you are more able to tolerate what you don’t want to believe.”

Mary E. Jamerino, director of bereavement services at A. J. Desmond & Sons Funeral Home in Troy and Royal Oak, encourages grieving parents to surround themselves with close friends and family during the early days after a child’s death.

“Just be with each other,” says Jamerino, a certified social worker. “Many families will use this time to go through photos for memory boards. They’ll look at their child’s ribbons and other accomplishments. Family members should encourage the grieving parents to talk about their child and the memories the photos elicit.”

Vachon recalls laughing while sorting through photos of Timmy in the days immediately following his death.

“At that time, I thought I would never ever laugh again, yet here I was laughing,” she recalls. “He was so endearing, and there were so many funny Timmy stories. I remember telling my college roommate, ‘I promise you, I will laugh and smile for him every day.'”

Letting go; finding support

Mindie Wolvin of Lake Orion lost her 16-year-old son to suicide five years ago. In February 2007, when she got the call at work to return home immediately, she never expected to be greeted by police officers and paramedics in her driveway. When her husband broke the news that their son Jake had taken his own life in the basement of their home, Mindie collapsed.

“I kept asking to see him. I needed to see him. I wanted to at least touch his hand,” she recalls. “But the police wouldn’t let me.”

The next day Mindie was able to see Jake through the glass at the medical examiner’s office, but still was unable to touch her son, something she was aching to do. It was at the funeral home where she finally was able to touch the hands and chest of her only child.

While against the very natural order of things, planning a child’s funeral in many instances can prove a cathartic experience, Jamerino notes.

“It’s a chance to say goodbye, a chance for family and friends to come together and show support,” says Jamerino, who is a firm believer that it’s important for parents to see their child, even if they plan for the casket to be closed to the public.

“Many times, the last memory of the child is in the hospital or hospice or at the scene of an accident,” she explains. “The funeral is the last chance for parents to see their child.”

Mindie and her husband, Ken, found great comfort in bringing photo boards into the funeral home along with Jake’s beloved dirt bike, helmet, gloves and favorite T-shirts.

“We loaded that place up,” she recalls. “I was so thankful that we were able to do that.”

For bereaved parents, it is often after the funeral in the weeks and months that follow when the full weight of grief bears down.

“Some people try to stay busy by throwing themselves into activities,” Hinson says. “But at some point, you have to address your grief.”

It is during this time that bereaved parents need to find at least one person with whom to share that pain, says Hinson. Sometimes, that person is a counselor or other parents who have lost a child.

“There is solidarity among people who have experienced this kind of loss,” Vachon says. “It is, thank God, a very small percentage of the universe. If you are part of that small percentage, though, you don’t know if you are going to survive. Being around other bereaved parents is like talking to people who speak the same language.”

Separate paths to healing

In the best of times, it has been said that “men are from Mars and women are from Venus.” Add the nightmare of losing a child to the dynamic, and the sexes can seem galaxies apart.

“Women tend to get more support, and men are socialized not to cry,” Hinson explains. “Men typically have to go back to work sooner. Sometimes that can lead to resentment.”

Friedman notes that in their effort to be strong, men may harden their feelings.

“The wife may see this and feel like her husband didn’t love their baby,” Friedman explains. “In reality, he’s acting on training. In their effort to be strong, men may appear unemotional. But I tell people you can be strong, or you can be human. You pick.”

Jamerino encourages the couples she counsels to see her together – especially in the beginning.

“It was their child, but they will deal differently,” she says. “Often the mother will keep going over what happened. The husband may go to work to cope. It’s important to remember that each parent had a different relationship with that child. It’s only natural then that they will grieve differently.”

Anne Vachon explains her and her husband’s grief process as taking two roads to get to the same place.

“We’re so different in how we parent and react,” she says. “One way is not better than the other. You have to let each other get there. You can arrive before or long after. That’s OK.

“People get so discouraged, saying, ‘We’re not grieving together.’ Well, you don’t parent as one person. He is not me. I am not him. We’re different in every way. We let each other be in how we are going to get there.”

When Cliff Patton of Clinton Township first joined Hinson’s bereavement group after the death of his infant daughter, Erin, he asked Hinson what he felt was a valid question at the time.

“I asked Sister Beverly if my wife Tammy and I would be together when this was done,” he recalls. “She said she couldn’t guarantee it, but that she would do whatever she could to help.”

While statistics for the divorce rate among grieving parents vary widely, informal reports cite it as high as 80 percent.

Cliff and Tammy came up with a system to help support each other on the especially difficult days following the death of their only daughter. A candle bearing Erin’s photo would sit on a table in their home. If one or the other was having a more difficult day, he or she would light it.

“If I came home and the candle was lit, it was a cue for me to give Tammy some space,” Cliff recalls. “At first that candle was lit all the time. Ultimately, we knew that when that candle was lit, we needed to be extra supportive of the other.”

Caring for yourself

Around the two-year mark after Timmy’s death, Anne Vachon recalls visiting her doctor to request an EKG. “My heart was doing all this crazy stuff. It ached,” she recalls. “He assured me there was nothing physically wrong with me. It was grief – my heart was broken.”

It was this physical manifestation of grief that made Anne realize she needed to take better care of herself. “I’ve taken that really seriously,” she says. “I try to work out and do all the things I can to stay in one piece.

“I always tell other grieving parents, if you have a penchant for drugs, alcohol, gambling – whatever, steer clear from those things. You can’t put yourself in jeopardy.”

Taking care of themselves in the aftermath of the most profound bereavement there is can be an almost insurmountable challenge for many grieving parents.

Dr. Wolfelt explains that a parent’s feelings of loss and sadness will likely leave them fatigued. He encourages them to respect what their bodies are telling them.

“Nurture yourself. Get daily rest. Eat balanced meals. Lighten your schedule as much as possible,” he advises. “Caring for yourself doesn’t mean you are feeling sorry for yourself. It means you are using survival skills.”

Hinson notes that many bereaved parents she meets seek out medication at some point or another to help with their pain.


Dealing with holidays

For grieving parents, there are perhaps few harder times of year than holidays, their child’s birthday or the anniversary of their child’s death.

“You never have any idea how many holidays there are until you have to celebrate them without your child,” Wolvin says.

Hinson counsels the parents she works with to develop a plan for the day.

“This gives parents control,” she explains. “You can’t let the day take over. Anticipation of the birthday or holiday is often worse than the day itself. Plan for it. You may not want to celebrate holidays the same way you have in the past, and that’s OK.”

Cliff and Tammy Patton celebrate their daughter Erin’s birthday with a balloon launch each year, inviting family and friends to come over for cake and ice cream before releasing balloons into the air.

Erin died at 16 days old from cardiac failure stemming from cushion canal disease and pulmonary atresia – with which she was diagnosed while still in utero.

“She died in my arms,” Tammy recalls. “Even so, she was still our miracle.”

To honor Erin on the anniversary of her death, each year, the Pattons organize a stuffed animal drive. They deliver the hundreds of stuffed animals they collect to St. John Hospital in Detroit and the cardiac department at Children’s Hospital.

“When Erin was in the hospital, she was given a little panda bear,” Tammy recalls. “We hold dear to it.”

Mindie and Ken Wolvin mark the anniversary of Jake’s death – his “Angel Day” – by celebrating what they refer to as “Jake’s Lovefest.” For three days, they encourage family and friends to join them in undertaking three separate acts of kindness.

“We try to make something positive out of a horrible time,” Mindie explains.

Anne and Marc Vachon recognize the anniversary of Timmy’s death with a mass.

“The mass is a celebration of his life,” she explains. “God has been the answer to everything for us. It’s Thanksgiving. It’s a way to celebrate with our community. These people have been so good to us. The mass is a way to say thank you.”

Feeling blessed in spite of the loss

The kindness of family, friends and strangers has enabled Mindie Wolvin to see her life as blessed even after losing Jake.

“I have met people I never would have met if I hadn’t lost Jake,” she says. “You don’t know how wonderful people can be. People who didn’t even know Jake well came out of the woodwork to comfort us after he died.”

Shortly after Jake’s death, some women who worked with Mindie but didn’t know her well asked for Jake’s photo.

“Later they gave me a necklace with Jake’s picture and the words ‘Forever Remembered’ engraved on it,” she recalls. “I wore that necklace every day for four years.”

Creating good out of a tragic loss is often a common thread among bereaved parents. Anne and Marc Vachon created the Timmy Vachon Foundation to memorialize their son and the can-do, optimistic spirit he embodied. The foundation’s mission is to keep Timmy’s legacy alive by supporting other children who exemplify Timmy’s mantra of “Never Give Up.”

The foundation provides financial aid in the form of scholarships for students attending metro Detroit Catholic schools and grants for charities.

“We knew from the very beginning – even while still in the hospital with Timmy – that we wanted some good to come from his death,” Anne says. “Through the foundation, we have been able to help so many awesome kids. It has really been our gift.”

Yet perhaps the brightest beacon of hope to come out of the Anne and Marc’s grief is Hope herself. Almost three years after Timmy’s death, Anne and Marc welcomed a baby girl, Julia Hope, into their lives to join big sisters, Charlotte and Mary Claire, Timmy’s twin.

“Right away, I wanted another baby,” Anne says. “And we were done. But I felt that need. Not as a replacement. I wanted my hands to be busy because my heart ached so badly. I felt if my hands were going to be busy, they may as well be busy doing something I loved. Child rearing has given me more satisfaction than anything.

“Julia saved our lives. Not all our prayers were heard, but that one was.”

Finding a new normal

It has been more than 10 years now since Cliff and Tammy Patton bid farewell to their daughter Erin, but she is still very much a part of her mom and dad’s lives and that of her five siblings.

“Erin’s younger brother and sister never got to meet her,” Tammy notes. “But we talk about her so much that it’s like they know her.”

The entire Patton family regularly visit Erin’s grave to lay blankets.

“We want the kids to understand who she was,” Tammy says. “Time doesn’t heal your pain, but it does lessen it.”

Anne Vachon feels it is her responsibility to lead a happy life and to continue parenting Timmy, albeit in a different way.

“What people don’t understand is that he is still my child,” Anne says. “I will parent him until the day I die. I devote the same amount of time to him in my actions that I did before. He will always be my child. We have to go on happily because that is what he would want.”

Similarly, Mindie Wolvin says she has transformed her relationship with Jake.

“I’m still his mom,” she says. “Instead of buying clothes for him, I buy flowers for his grave or balloons for a launch.”

Now at the five-year mark since Jake’s death, Mindie and Ken feel they’re finally open to considering the possibility of adopting or fostering a child.

“You’re not getting over your child by allowing yourself to be happy again,” Mindie says. “Grief is like a weight. When you first pick it up, it’s heavy and hard. While the weight never changes, your muscles get stronger. You learn new ways to carry it.”

This post was originally published in 2012 and has been updated for 2016.

Check out the other posts in this three-part series:

Loss of Parent Loss of Spouse
Losing a Parent                     Losing a Spouse


  • Thank you for this article. It has been very reassuring and encouraging for me. We lost our daughter four weeks ago and I still feel like I am on a roller coaster of emotions. Knowing that it eventually gets a little easier to manage gives me hope. As much as I wish that no one has to feel this kind of pain, it is comforting to know there are other people who have experienced the same sort of loss that we are experiencing. Thank you !

    • I have never been on this site before and it is almost the dawn of a new day 11.51 pm. I don’t know why I was compelled to go to the computer and look up Catholics who have lost children for it has been almost 35 years since I lost little Laura and 7years since I lost my wonderful Christina. It really does not matter who they are taken from our arms and when it is the same for any parent “a feeling of helplessness”. Your not suppose to say the words “why me” but you do. This is the life we are given.
      However, as Catholics we can share these thoughts knowing that Our Mother is there for us. We walk in her shoes and we know the pain she felt. She gives us the strength to go thru each and ever day from now on.
      We know that the remainer of our days on earth will give us an eternity with love for we will have the end of the rainbow in heaven with our children near again.
      Our pain will be our joy as if we where Mary knowing that her son would greet her at the moment of her dealth. My prayers are for you.

      Tonight I feel your pain and wish that you I could help. However being a Catholic and believing in their lives is the only optimisic help for our future.

      • I wish my 29 year old handsome loving son was alive to see his 2 boys grow up they really need him and we as a family are suffering so special much even softer 2 years it’s NOT getting easier!!!

        • I’m at the 2 year mark in one month. Not easier for me either. This year was harder than the first. Feel myself slipping. Going for meds because I can’t do this alone anymore. Hugs to you.

        • I am a certified grief coach with a web site http://www.grief2joy.com. I help bereaved parents put their lives back together and regain Thier passion for life. I lost my daughter in 2007, and I understand.

          • I lost my only child June 3 2017. I do not want to live

      • This article was great, I am a devout catholic and a legionary of Mary at my church in plantation Florida. The blessed mother knows my pain and she comforts me while I’m crying or sad. My son Salvatore dean Ramos was killed tragically in a car crash on may 25th, 2013. My life was changed forever. Thankfully my catholic faith helps me very much. Remember our lady is always with us just ask and you shall receive.

  • Thank you for sharing. I lost my 24 year old son, who was also my only child on April 10, 2015. He died in his sleep in his college dorm room. He was a senior and was scheduled to graduate May 9, 2015, just 30 days before graduation. He was a Computer Science major and a very smart one. He tutored others and helped them to receive their degrees, yet he didn’t live to receive his. I’m hurt that all of my hopes and dreams for his future were stolen from me. It’s a hard reality to face. I’m working hard to stay strong, but I do not understand why God would allow something as tragic as this to happen to such a bright wonderfull young man.

    • My son died at age 27 years, he was 1 month from getting his master’s – he wanted to be a film director. I know he is in heaven and I never question what or why, God’s ways are higher than our ways. I believe he was a gift and one day will be him again.

  • Thank you for sharing. I lost my 24 year old son, who was also my only child on April 10, 2015. He died in his sleep in his college dorm room. He was a senior and was scheduled to graduate May 9, 2015, just 30 days before graduation. He was a Computer Science major and a very smart one. He tutored others and helped them to receive their degrees, yet he didn’t live to receive his. I’m hurt that all of my hopes and dreams for his future were stolen from me. It’s a hard reality to face. I’m working hard to stay strong, but I do not understand why God would allow something as tragic as this to happen to such a bright wonderfull young man. Reading your post helps me learn to push forward into my new world without my son.

    • That’s very rude this parent is grieving you do not say things like that this mother is grieving you asshole

    • I don’t understand why and how u said sth. like this to the grieving parent. NO ONE deserves any tragedies like these and anything happens like these are not anyone’s fault. Maybe you are the desprate one who is suffering from your own sadness. I’m sorry for your loss, but please stop doing it to others. life needs go on.

      • How could a post such as that remain on a site, I came looking for help, are ther not administrative control for such inhuman comment? Just WOW

    • Im so very sorry for your loss. I lost my absolutely magnificent daughter 6months ago from septic shock in 14 hours. Heartbroken…, all the time.

  • I lost my three month old daughter over a year ogo and if someone treated me that way I would slap them you don’t know what it is like to lose a child you have never walked in a grieving mothers foot steps you asshole!!!!!

  • Thanks for sharing your story. My 19 year old son just passed away on August 10, 2015 one day before we was due to return to his 2nd year of college he drowned swimming with friends in the lake. We had two memorial services because we had only been in our current residence for 4 years so we took him back to our home town for his final resting place. I’m numb and can’t believe he’s gone. I miss him so much and somehow I can’t help to think that if I said or did something different he would still be with me. I’m so lost he was a good boy, he was talented, and charming. He made everybody laugh and smile. I feel alone and heartbroken.

    • Hello here I sit typing this message among thousands that have lost a child. I am heartbroken over the loss of my 36 year old son. So many questions in my mind, as to why he is gone. It’s only been a few days and there are no words for this pain. If only I could hear his voice just once more, my son had a heart of gold. So very very heartbroken.

  • What is there to do when you have lost more then one child I am so mad that I can’t sleep can’t eat I am mad at every thing right now I need help and I know I do but I don’t want to believe that this is happening to me again they say that God don’t give you know more then you can handle I don’t believe I can take any more all the questions and no answers and I a bad person why do I have to go through this again my son went missing on 5/22/15 and he was found 7/22/15 my heart has been ripped out of my chest I have been thinking that this is not true. Can someone tell me what I should do

    • Dear Grieving Mother,
      I am so sorry for your loss. Two years ago our 8 year old daughter died in an accident. I remember, being a believer in Jesus, wondering how this sorrow could be something that God expected me to able to handle. I found the answer. The Bible does not say anywhere that God will never give us “more than we can handle” rather it says in I Corinthians 10:13 that we will not be tempted beyond what we can bear. The grief of losing my daughter has been way more than I can handle on my own. It has driven me to the open comforting arms of God. God knows the pain of losing His own Son. My experience, these past 2 years, has been that the harder I have leaned into His arms, the more His love and comfort has sustained me. Run to Him, my friend. He is there and He cares.

  • My wife and I lost our 2nd son of four in a car accident July 3,2015 he just graduated from high school he was 18 , we were all together . Were all broken and banged up… my boys are carrying us , nothing feels right . All I want is my son back home , my wife broken and we continue to blame ourselves , I fill like l failed my son as a FATHER… . All our basic. Simply task and duties aren’t being completed , our WILL to go forward is gone . We are an emotional bomb. , never knowing when its going to go off ….

  • I don’t know what the date was I loat my only son. I don’t remember how old he was I think he was 8. That day I died. I feel like a ghost trapped here for eternity to watch others live their lives………

  • I lost my 22 year old son August 10, 2014. Parker was in his 3rd year in college. It’s been a year now and I still feel like he will come home from college any day now. I cry for him everyday. I don’t know how to move on,I feel so lost.I have other children that I love so much but my love for Parker seems so magnified that my lost of my loving,beautiful son is all I can think about. I thank God for what I do have,but I feel my pain will never go away. I know Parker is in a wonderful place with God and I should feel comfort in that. All I feel is a longing to hold him in my arms.

    • I am so sorry for your loss. I also lost my son Joshua 2-9-14, and I live his loss everyday. I cry almost everyday. The pain inside your heart and soul is like no other and will never go away but I promise it eases. I do have the best of him though I have a beautiful 4 year old granddaughter that I love more than I can say, but she is not my Joshua and it does not replace him or his loss. My days are filled with disbelief and feelings of I don’t cares, I am just here because I am. Hold on to the fact you will see him again and instead of living hour to hour day to day you will (as time drags on) be able to have better days. They of course will always be filled with what ifs and whys and never be right again they will get better. I am sorry I may not have helped you but I wish you more days of comfort it is a long road we have to travel. If you would like to talk anytime this site has my email. Best of life to you.

  • I lost my daughter 8 years ago to an illness. She was 17. Even though it has been this long I still have horrible sadness. I would like to know if anyone else has had a similar experience. We had other young children at the time of her death and I feel I never really had the chance to grieve. I understand the hole in the heart. You completely lose a part of you. I would appreciate anyone who can give me advice as to feel better after all of this time.

  • Losing a child is such a horrific loss. The pain and anguish are unthinkable. I lost my 21 year old son to an accidental overdose. He was in his second year of college. He was wonderful, funny, and so smart. At first, I existed from one minute to the next. A year later, I am coping better. There are some days that I just can’t stop crying. In reading this blog, I can’t believe anyone would actually post rude comments denegrating parents who have lost their children. This is rude and completely unacceptable. Many grieving parents already assign a certain amount of blame to ourselves. Your post was cruel and uneccesary. I truly hope that you will never have to undergo this type of loss. It’s catastrophic and changes you forever. I hope that you see a different venue to vent your frustrations and stay away from grieving parents we don’t need your hateful and spiteful comments.

  • My son passed away Monday morning. I came to this site so I could understand what and why? Our Heavenly Father made us in a unique way so that we can deal with death. He is now at peace.

  • Tragically my daughter was murdered, and she left her two children with us but the biological father came to her funeral just to take them away from us; my heart ached so badly. I feel alone and heartbroken the pain inside is like no other. I have feelings of desbeliefs and don’t cares, my days are filled with What ifs… and Whys. I am working hard to stay strong and fight for my grandmother’s rights. I can’t belive my daughter is gone.

    • Am a mother of three girls and my oldest died 9/3/14 in a car accident.She was a mother of two girls also, ages 5 and 2 months, My first grand kids who i was helping to raise .My daughter was only 23,in college ,worked 2 jobs and lived with me, never married and kids did not have the same father one in jail and the 2 month father was the driver of the car could not prove but high on spice.No one hit them he ran in to a street pole.him my daughter and both kids my daughter was the only one killed. Nether kids father never paid a dame in child support.I have been and still fighting for my grand kids in and out of court for over a year now. Its just unbelievable how they want me to just act as if my daughter has drop of the sid of the earth and am supposes to forget about her kids.The fathers gave there right over to there parents . what am i to do? This is not fair at all. can someone help i do not know what else to do.

  • I lost my 26 yrs old son…I am a single parent…It is the most horrible devastating experience I have ever had..My heart is broken… I’m sorry for all grieving parents. …May God Be With Us…

  • My oldest child passed away 10/2/09 in a state we were all new too. He was given pain meds for a broken nose while on other meds and passed in his sleep. Like a few here, he was on his way to finishing college. My son loved philosophy, Marcus Aurelius was his favorite. All he wanted was to help others but instead a young man he didn’t know broke his nose that catapulted him towards death. He forgave the young man but I am not certain how I feel. It has taken much soul searching, reasonable thinking, analyzing, reading, researching, praying, sobbing, to finally get on with a day. I buried my sorrow in alcohol for two years, caught a gut bacteria then was shortly after diagnosed with lymphoma. Yes, shock causes cancer. I managed to survive through the prayers of family and friends, the chemo created much destruction so I believe the prayers were the cure. Now going into 7 years I want change. I want to accomplish something that will say my beautiful, handsome, intelligent, compassionate son lived, for 25 years and 14 days. I no longer sob in the shower where others can’t hear, I sob in the car, in the garage or quietly in bed. I just don’t sob as often. Sending healing thoughts to all of you. I belong to numerous bereavement groups online that have helped me tremendously. Some of us have never met but we speak over the internet regularly. I know their children’s names and faces. God Bless you all and please, God didn’t take your child, God accepted your child. Peace and love.

  • My heart goes out to all of you that have lost a child. My 15 year old took his own life in May of 2013. That year and 2014 were impossible and all I could think about each day was getting this life over with. 2015 was a little different but the pain is still here and present every day. I am a firm believer that it always will be and so I just take each day and try to deal with it a little better each time. Thank you to all that have shared their stories because it does help to know that you are NOT alone in your grief and your journey through the pain. Take care and be gentle with yourselves.

  • Losing a child is easily the toughest thing anyone has to deal with in life. It’s just so unnatural – no parent should bury a child. My parents buried their oldest daughter when she died of a flu-like illness when she was only 9. I was 5 and could barely comprehend. It affected me to the point I believed I would die when I turned 9 and I started a bad stammer that has gradually gotten better, tho not completely at times – I am now in my 50s. If I hadn’t stammered in life I believe I could have done more in my career and gotten better jobs – I was once laid off a job partly because of my speech and the state of Texas dismissed my complaint after several years.
    My situation and other tragedies affect not my belief in God, but my belief that he really can do much to affect things on Earth. I feel he is just watching and shaking his head, but not intervening like a good parent should when kids fight and go wrong. I guess I have become more of a deist like Jefferson and Paine and others – we believe in God but believe he pretty much created things then went away. There are times we get help but it never seems to be enough in many cases. Did this situation shake anyone’s belief in God’s impact on earth as well?

  • We lost our son Austin in a tragic auto accident on December 19, 2015. He just turned 19. My heart is shattered and I feel like my life has stopped. These shoes we all share are the worse nightmare ever. God Bless all of us!

  • I have an 8 month old. I love my son so much and I cannot fathom what you all are going through. I try to think what if that were me and I cant stop crying. But there are so many many children in this world, I think we have a lot of opportunities to be a parent and in the process heal ourselves. I hope this helps. Love you all. I believe you and your kids will be together again. In fact I believe we all will be together again

  • My son was 31when he died of an accidental overdose. 9-11-2014. I had 3 sons he was the middle one, handsome, gave big bear hugs, beautiful smile, he met a girl had a daughter a week later deployed, came back a different person, wife took daughter and left and his life was never the same. I miss him so much, so unreal. I will never ever forget that phone call. Matthew was truly one of a kind! You just never get over losing your child. His daughter is so much like him, she will be 7 in May. I doubt she will remember much about him she was only 5. But was a daddy’s girl. My heart goes out to all parents whom have lost a child. There is no need for rude remarks, if you have never lost a child you have no idea the pain we endure. My son told me he could never bare to bury me thst he would die first. I doubt he meant that, I told him he had a lot of life left, I always told my sons I would die for them, I wish it would have been me, that’s how great the pain is.

  • My son was 13 years old. I am so desolated. I don’t believe God loves me. When I wake up in the morning I don’t have to ask if I live in a good or evil world. It’s evil.

  • its really a pain that no one can understand when you lose a child. I lost my daughter on the 21 April 2016 she was 20 years. She has left such emptiness in our lives. yes i do question God how could He allow this to happen to such a beautiful angel. Why,How is all that goes through my head. I am still at a place where to me she is gone some where and will be coming home soon. everyone says i must cry and mourn my child but i cant. If i cry i feel like i will be crying her out of me so i hold onto every tear and swollow really hard so it goes away. can someone please help me cause my body is here but my mind is lost

    • I lost my daughter April 16 this year, four days before you lost yours. I feel the same way you do. I don’t look forward to spending the rest of my life without her. Guess I will just have to fake it for the sake of others. This is so tiring, I just want to go away and start over again.

    • Hi i understand how u feel i just lost my son june 6 2016 to a car accident and it is still unbelievable and hard but god don’t make mistakes dealing with his loss is the most horrible thing i have ever had to face but god hasn’t forgot about you or me…. You have to accept it and learn how to live your new normal if not u will loose your mind in this and I’m pretty sure your child wouldn’t want that my son was 20 years old he had his whole life in front of him and if i could trade places with him i would but that’s not what god wanted…. You have to grieve and accept then that’s when your healing begin it is still fresh for me and every hour is different for me but god is there because i have chosen to let him carry the weight because we are not built for that….. Is my heart heavy yes and it is broke but god is my strength… Please lean on him and accept so u can heal.. God bless u and love u…

      • Thank you for your kind words and I’m so very sorry for your loss. For the record, GOD didn’t have anything to do with the lost of you child nor did he have anything to do with mine. He did however put laws into action when he created the universe and if you, me, our kids, anyone? break them, bad things happen (like car crashes). As Clint Eastwood said in his Unforgiven Movie, “Deserving ain’t got nothing to do with it” We just drew the short parent stick, its that simple. Not trying to be callous or cold, Im less than a year into this disaster myself. Ive lost much faith since it happened, sad but true.

  • I just lost my 28 year old son May 14,2016. I’m so numb and heartbroken. He served his country 6 years, 2 tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was thriving in college as an LSU tiger getting closer to law school. He was very intelligent, funny, loving and loyal. A teacher, leader, motivator, great man.

  • I have just lost my only child to a road accident age 21 4 weeks ago my heart is smashed and feel my life ended with him I go to chapel and pray but the pain I feel is unbearable

  • Loosing a child/children is unbearable. I lost my last baby of 36yrs, 3 months and 18days in 2005 in a swimming pool accident and my first daughter in 2013 being diabetic. People who are not in our shoes talked about moving forward; to where? I feel sorry for anyone with negative comments. I believe that God is the source of my strength and my hope is that I will see both one day. I cry nearly everyday, in my private place. I pray that God will continue to sustain and comfort all bereaved parents in Jesus name.

  • My 32 year old daughter was killed 7 weeks ago by a distracted driver. Her two children were hurt in the accident. They live with me now which is a blessing. I spent most every day with my daughter. I don’t know if it’s shock or what but I pray to GOD to allow me to feel my daughter again in some way. Why can I not get there? I want to so badly. I feel as though I’m a bad person because I feel my faith being pushed hard. I need as a. Other to “hear” without doubt that my daughter is with GOD and I will in fact see her again. I want to wake up from this nightmare. Bless you all.

  • I recently lost my only son he was 7 years old. He was such a wonderful boy so happy and full of life. He and my 10 year old daughter were in a car accident on June 09,2016 along with their grandparents. They were traveling from Texas to Washington to visit their father and my son was most excited to go. He died in Utah so far from home i feel like i let him down n everyday i hate myself for it. I miss him so very much. My daughter and their grandparents survived and i believe it was because my son even with his injuries he was able to flagged down for help becore he passed away. He is our hero. It hurts so much. The only thing that gives me comfort is knowing he is in heaven and that one day i will see him again.

  • We lost 2 daughters a year apart, 1 15yrs old and the other 22 yrs old…I still have a lot their stuff. It’s hard to desiderate what to save an what not to…any ideass..I know I can’t save everything.

    • I can’t even begin to imagine loosing a child, let alone 2. Only a year apart. My boyfriend who I have known for 30 years, together 4 years. He lost his son to cancer 8 yrs ago. His son was 23. On the 6th of November he lost his 24 yr old daughter in a horrible car accident, the driver was a young man she just broke up with. He was released from the hospital the next day. My heart is hurting for my boyfriend he lost the apple of his eye. She was his reason to live after the loss of his son. She was the apple of his eye. Any words of advise for me to help him to be here for him. To all of you that have suffered loosing a child, my heart goes out to you, it has got to be the worst pain ever.
      thank you for reading

  • All of these stories are just horrifying. I pray for you to find some peace. I’m a single mom. No boyfriend no friends really at all. I don’t know where or who to ask for help. My daughter Airies, 13 was hit in a crosswalk walking home. We had just moved to Phoenix to be closer to my mom, who is struggling to care for my nephews. We were here just three weeks. I feel so absolutely alone. I was supposed to start a job the day after the accident but I still can’t seem to pull it together. My family offers little support and thinks I should have been over it months ago. I have to two other children who seem to be dealing with it pretty well. My 12yr old boy Alex, texted me this one day after i said my world felt like it was crumbling right in front of me… He said “Mom your world is not falling apart it falling into place.” I don’t know if that helps anyone, I am still so angry and confused.

  • i lost my 18 year old son a year and a half ago. the pain is the same as the first day. many days i do not want to live anymore. it hurts so bad.

    • I HEAR YOU, Sister…the SAME WAY I FEEL…ain’t NOTHIN’ “getting any better”… Alla these ‘Pollyannas’ dat tell you different are lying to themselves/existing in a dream world or SOMETHING…it’s BS, regardless…My Son left us 3/31/15, sounds like you are about the same date, more or less…I FEEL for you..ain’t EVEN gonna lie….it’s pure, unadulterated HELL…

      • I lost my only child Brandon he was 20 years old, sadly he passed away January 28th of 2014, it’s going on 3 years of hell. I don’t get how so many of you here make it sound like everything is Okay when it really isn’t. I’m a huge mess since he passed away. I hope to just die already. I lost my only brother back in May of 2007, I don’t get why this life is pure hell, Nothing will EVER be as it once was. I’m forever changed by my losses. I’m sorry to all of you who have lost a child. Hugs!


  • Guess What…It’s over 560+ days now since I held my Blessed Son, Michael as he left this World, and I STILL DON’T laugh” in ANY WAY, shape or form !!! Alla You that think you ‘laugh thru the tears’, you DO NOT ‘get’
    it…NOT AT ALL…honey, I WISH I could just GO today/tomorrow, and BE with Him…there IS NO ‘laughing through the tears’, or ‘fond bittersweet remembrances’…ONLY HELL!!! Get REAL!!!

  • Please recommend the book ” Replacement Children: The Unconscious Script ” by Silverman and Brenner. Illuminates a widespread, but often misunderstood phenomenon that another child in the family may experience when living in the shadow of a loss. Children born or adopted after a loss are NOT automatically replacement children. The term refers to an actual psychological/emotional syndrome and was never meant to suggest that any individuals ever “replaceable”. This book was written find me and Michael Walter, psychiatrist Dr. Abigail Brenner to help families deal in a healthy way with subsequent children or an older child who may get caught up in a specific complex family dynamic in which they, often unconsciously, fill the void left by another. Please check out my interview in the Huffington post from this past July 18. Rita Battat Silverman interviewed by Robi Ludwig. This is a first of its kind book combining the best of the research with compelling personal firsthand stories. We hope it will be healing to many. Thank you.

  • Sorry – there was a typo as I was dictating this into my phone. There is no Michael Walter. Sometimes Siri is hard of hearing and I did not catch it. Thank you, Rita

  • I lost my newborn son in 2013 and was broken. I then gave birth to a healthy term son and love him so much. The hardest part is that whenever I see families with 2 boys, I always grieve my lost son and I am terrified every day of losing my current son. I am even in the process of trying to find out how to get another child in fear of losing my son now. I do know that my lost baby is watching over us and helped bring my healthy son to me, it is a knowing…strange..but I know he is there.

  • My 17 year old daughter was in a car accident on October 9,2016. She was a passenger in the car and was ejected. She never responded on October 11,2016 the dr said she no longer has any brain activity. My husband and I decided to donate our daughters organs. I felt blessed to have that little bit of extra time to hold her hand and put my arms around her and kiss her nose a few more times. I loved her so much I’m still at an absolute lose I go through the motions every day but I’m afraid I’ll never feel normal again.

  • I lost my only son 9-16-16. His girlfriend broke up with him, and he could not go on without her. My heart is broken. I do believe he is in a better place and is watching over me. I pray everyday, all day. I miss he so much. He was a gentle soul. Always helping everyone.

  • I lost my 16 year old daughter 12/5/16. I don’t know how I’m supposed to go on with my 10 year old daughter. My daughter died at home from an asthma attack. I’ve been staying with my parents because I can’t live in that house with the memory of doing CPR on her until the sheriff got there and took over. It seems like a nightmare I can’t wake up from.

  • Lost my lovely son on 11/11/2016 after he was stabbed by
    an idiot while trying to help a lady whose cellphone was
    grabbed from her by the same idiot.My heart is paining,sobbing everyday and imagining myself a lot.My son was handsome,cute,hardworking,hardworking and highly disciplined.For sure i know that he is watching over us and has become one of the sweetest angels. Megameno i will never forget you my boy….never never.You will remain my first born.Grieving is real..but one should remember that only God permits deaths and all grieving moms must know that our children are accepted by God the Almighty.Read the Bible more and more and find Spiritual Councelling of cause you will find your healing and will smile again….LOVE U ALL!!!!!!!

  • NOTHING helps after the loss of a child, NOTHING. We lost our 17 yr old son to an accident 9 months ago and NO ONE around us can even come close to what we are still feeling. NO ONE. Sure, the flowers and food came at first and then everyone got back to their lives. It is what it is. Bottom line is that everyone who lost a child is FUC3ED!! We drew the short parent stick and got screwed. GOD didnt intervene and it doenst work that way anyway. Once you get here you are basically “on your own”. Im so sorry for all of your pain and I feel it every second of every waking moment. Bottom line, NOTHING helps, time maybe but its what is now our sole burden to maintain. Jealous of parents that havent lost a child? DAMN right I am. Not sorry for feeling it either.


    • Joe I totally agree with you. NOTHING matters, NOTHING helps. NOTHING will EVER help. I lost my precious son 2 years ago on April 29. Spoke with him just hours before he passed. He was my precious first born son. I don’t know what to do with myself. I have been through “The Grief Groups”. Have been to a psychologist. Am on meds. NOTHING helps. I want my son back. God Bless You. I do understand, I am in the same place.

  • Guess what..667 days and LONGER HELLISH nights in, it DOESN’T ‘get better’..there IS NO ‘occasional laughter’, NO ‘finding a “new normal”..’ That is ALL total BS…it’s HELL..THAT is all! At least I’M NOT gonna lie to anyone or try to ‘stroke’them..it’s pure unabashed HELL, no matter if there’s 8 MILLION lame ‘support groups’out there…

  • Grieving over our 8 year old, we are seeking for a way to honour him AND came across this post. All we have so far is a YouTube channel- mi5snowfun- if you would like to support/subscribe us on this “new” territory we would be ever so grateful and appreciate it! Where does one even look for memorial/ honorable scholarship foundation start-up/ information/ or other ideas to share a child’s story, memory, etc.?

  • My son took his life 03/04/16. I have suffered a lot of secondary losses with this death. My daughter was married a couple months after he passed away and she decided she didn’t want me at the wedding. Her in-laws and my late husband’s family together decided to exclude me. Now she is having the first grandchild. I am banned from the family. I have reached out in love but no response. My oldest sister has been pulled into the drama. She told me if anyone was responsible for my son’s death, I was. The depth of my pain is so deep I cannot breathe sometimes. I have an older daughter, bless her. I would be lost without her love.

    • I feel for you. I lost my only child June 3- drugs. My father died years back and my 2 sisters blame me. They have not spoke to me in ten years

  • My son killed himself almost a year ago May 24, 2016 right before Memorial Day. He had RSD which is a disease full of pain from your head to your toes. There is no cure.
    After spending one month in ICU for pneumonia he said he was never going to the hospital again. Between the medical
    costs and the pain he gave up. The last time I saw him was
    Mothers Day and we had the best time. I guess he knew that was the end. Now Mothers Day will be a nightmare. I
    have another son who lives in Colorado. So I have no one
    here. I will never recover from this loss even as life goes on.
    No one understands and I mean no one.

  • I lost my only daughter on October 11, 2011. She was 23 and she committed suicide after her ex partner harassed her and threatened her. For the first month or two, I was in shock and numbed. I knew she was no longer with us, but my brain couldn’t comprehend the fact that she was gone. I blamed myself for things I should have said or done, or wished I could go back to the day before it happened, so I could have done something. For the next two years, I was in deep depression. I didn’t see a reason to live, I didn’t care about myself, everything was pointless. If I didn’t have my husband, who listened to me day in and day out, about why she died, and who was to blame, and all of the what if questions, I don’t think I would have made it. It has been a long a difficult road, but it has subsided. When the grief returns, it is as strong as the day I received that dreaded phone call. I couldn’t tell you there was one thing in particular that helped, but I do remember one day after several years where I realized I wasn’t carrying around the incredible pain and sadness every day. I did learn to laugh again, and I learned that it is the absolute worst nightmare anyone can go through. Talking with people who have been through it helped. Nobody understands unless you have been through it. People tried to rush me through the process, and thought I should be over it, but it doesn’t work that way. Parents who lose children never get over it, they learn to live with the pain. There is a hole left in your heart that can never be filled. It is not the natural order of life, and it leaves us confused, heartbroken, and stunned.

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  • I lost my only child June 3 2017. My husband is sick. I thought I would find him dead in bed first. Not my daughter. I do not want to live. I do not want to find my husband dead in bed

  • I lost my beautiful baby boy of 3 about 2 months ago. He got a virus and it destroyed his immune system. I am angry…the first month i didnt move. Didnt want to. Sleeping is impossible as im haunted by images from the hospital. In the morning you wake up and for a brief moment all feels right and then your slammed with reality. I hate all the stupid things people say…”god needed another angel time heals all.” Really?? Walk in my shoes for a day…you wouldnt make it through a day. My son and i were as thick as thieves…my one and only. I do not plan on having more kids. The thought terrifies me…no one can hold a candle to him. Im ready for the rapture…so much evil in this world. These are not acts of God. God wouldnt make babies sick. Im not angry at God. Mad at myself. Too much guilt and shame. I just want to kiss his face and hold his hand. I dont see things getting better. I just want to be called home.


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Losing a Child: A Parent's Worst Nightmare
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