The COPE Foundation

What To Do When a Child Dies PDF Print E-mail


  • Tell people what you need.  Your friends and family cannot anticipate what your needs are whether those needs are help around the house, with grocery shopping, laundry, or perhaps just being a shoulder for you to cry on.  Don’t be afraid to speak out and articulate what would specifically be helpful to you.  Most likely, your friends and family are anxious to help in any way they can.
  • Start a journal. Whether that be a beautiful journal purchased in a bookstore, a spiral bound book from your local drugstore, or even your computer, journaling is a safe way for you to express your feelings. Record your child’s life, or your day-to-day feelings.  More ideas for journal entries:

    • Write about a typical days experience.
    • Write a letter to your loved one.
    • Write a goodbye letter to your loved one.
    • Write a letter from your loved one.
    • Write a poem.
    • Draw out your feelings.
    • Explore your feelings about what is happening to you.
    • Write down any dreams that are significant to you.
    • Write about what has helped you when you are grieving.
    • Write about what has not been helpful to you.
    • Write about favorite memories of your loved one.
    • List your plans for the future.
    • List ways you can take care of yourself while you grieve.
  • Plant a tree, bush or garden in honor of your child. A perennial that grows year after year will continue to remind you of the light your child brought into your life. If your child had a favorite flower, consider adding that to your garden.
  • Wear something special. A picture of your child in a locket, a pin he or she made for you. A color that was his or her favorite. These things will help you feel connected to your child.
  • Create a reminder of your child around the house. A collage or other art project, a memory box, an afghan or pillow with your child’s picture on it.  Something made especially in honor of your child will help to honor and work through your grief.
  • Be good to yourself. Take care of yourself, both physically and emotionally. Eat right and exercise, which in and of itself is a great way to deal with anger and your grief in general.  Engage in those activities which will help you emotionally, such as lunch with a close friend.  It may be difficult initially for you to allow yourself these indulgences, but you should try as soon as you are able to.  Attend a bereavement support group.  This may be a way to begin being around other people, starting with those who have experienced a similar type of loss.
 
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