Managing Anxiety and Depression after Child Loss
Losing a child is an utterly heart-wrenching ordeal for parents, with far-reaching consequences. The profound impact can manifest in various ways, such as grief, depression, anxiety, and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Furthermore, navigating the daily hurdles of life without our children becomes an immense challenge.
In the journey of finding a new normal after such an unimaginable loss, it is important to know that you are not alone and it’s okay to seek help.
This article aims to serve as a gentle guide, pointing out various routes that you may take in managing anxiety and depression that may arise or intensify after experiencing the loss of a child.
We are not professional counselors or licensed threpasits, but parents who have experienced similar losses and are here to support eachother. If you feel like you need to, please don’t feel ashamed to seek the help of a professional.
Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. What matters most is finding what works for you, at your own pace, to help navigate this tumultuous sea of emotions.
Take some time to reflect on what sets off your anxious or depressed feelings and make a list of identified triggers. It could be certain places, events, or even thoughts. Once you have identified your triggers, plan ways to avoid them or manage their impact when they do occur.
Recognizing your triggers is the first step in managing them. Once identified, you can implement strategies to either avoid these triggers or reduce their impact when they occur.
- Create a Safe Space: Designate a place in your home as a sanctuary, where you can retreat when you’re feeling overwhelmed. This could be a room filled with comforting elements like soft lighting, calming music, or comforting scents.
- Mindfulness Techniques: Practice mindfulness techniques such as deep breathing or meditation. They can help you stay grounded in the present moment and may assist in managing anxiety-inducing thoughts.
- Use of Distraction: Engage in activities that capture your attention and bring you joy. It sounds like a simple step, but is difficult to employ. This can help divert your focus from anxiety-provoking triggers. Whether it’s reading a book, taking a walk, or spending time in your garden, find what resonates with you.
It’s important to remember that it’s okay if these strategies don’t always work. It’s a journey of trial and error, and what matters is you’re taking steps towards managing your triggers with patience and self-compassion.
Reach out to a friend or someone who has been through similar loss.
You are not alone. There are dozens of parents who share a similar loss at Ian’s Place, and hundreds of thousands of us across the country. Talking to someone who understands and can lend support is incredibly beneficial in managing anxiety and depression.
At Ian’s Place, we understand that the road to healing is personal and unique for each individual. That’s why we offer a range of support groups tailored to different needs:
- We have a Grief Support Group where you can share and process your feelings in a safe space among others who are experiencing a similar journey.
- For partners navigating this heart-wrenching loss together, our Couples Support Group strives to foster understanding and companionship.
- If you prefer a more personal, one-on-one setting, our One on One Support is also available.
- For those who find solace in faith, we offer Bible Study groups.
- We also understand the excruciating pain of losing a young child. To respond to this, we provide specialized Group Grief Support for Loss of a Young Child, and One on One Support for Loss of a Young Child.
Remember, you are not alone. We are here to walk this journey with you, offering our support every step of the way.
We Meet Bereaved Parents Where They Are
We Are Here to Listen
We want to meet you where you are on your journey.
We've Been Where You Are
You may not believe you will walk back into the light, but we can walk with you.
Healing Through Hope
With faith, love, and support you will find yourself healing through this journey.
Mindfulness, Meditation, and the Power of Prayer
Oftentimes, managing anxiety and depression may require professional assistance. Seeking therapy or counseling can provide valuable tools and support in navigating these difficult emotions – this is very difficult to manage on your own.
Studies have shown that a significant percentage of parents who lose children experience grief symptoms that are severe enough to warrant professional help. For example, one study* found that 41% of parents who lost a child to cancer were currently using mental health services, and 78% of parents had used services at some point since their loss.
If you are a parent who has experienced the heartbreaking loss of a child, it is of utmost importance to reach out for professional support if you are finding it difficult to navigate through your grief. There are various types of therapy that can provide valuable assistance, and a compassionate therapist can guide you in developing coping mechanisms and strategies to help you navigate through this painful journey of loss.
Find a therapist or doctor who you feel comfortable talking to about your mental health concerns so they can help you manage them more effectively.
Here are some of the signs that you may need immediate professional help:
- Feeling overwhelmed by grief and sadness.
- Difficulty sleeping or eating.
- Trouble concentrating or making decisions.
- Withdrawing from social activities and relationships.
- Thoughts of harming yourself or others.
*”Parental Grief After Losing a Child to Cancer: Impact of Professional and Social Support on Long-Term Outcomes” by Jennifer V. Bray et al. (2006)
Healing through hope