The death of a child is one of the most traumatic experiences a family can ever know. Every year, more than 300,000 children die in the United States leaving parents devastated and adrift. They face a completely new reality, a life without their beloved child and many feel guilt because they were unable to prevent the death.
A study was carried out at the Department of Psychology at Georgia State University by Catherine H. Rogers and colleagues to determine the long-term effects on parents who had lost a child compared to those who had not. The study subjects had lost children ranging from infancy to age 34. With an average of 18.5 years since the bereavement, when parents were in their 50s, those who had lost children reported more episodes of depression, health and marital problems than comparison parents.
Recovery from grief was linked to having a purpose in life and having additional children but was not related to the cause of death or how much time had elapsed since the death. The researchers concluded that for those parents who experience extended grief, there is a need for detection and intervention to help them.
Jean Galica, M.A., LMFT, highlights the common belief that, following the death of a child, many marriages end in divorce. However, according to Galica, the outcome is not that simple: some marriages remain the same, some become worse, some get better and some do eventually end in divorce. Regardless of the age of the child or parents, the grief and healing time remains the same.
The loss of their child is different for each parent in a marriage and although they can comfort each other, they each feel isolated in their grief with little to draw on and share with their spouse. According to Galica, the sense of loss can last decades and experienced differently for men and women. While women tend to grieve for a longer period of time and more deeply, men are more task-oriented and tend to focus inwardly, which does not diminish grief but renders it less visible.
Sovereign Health Florida treats depression using cognitive behavioral therapy which can put a person diagnosed with depression back on the road to a normal, healthy life. If you or a loved one would like further information, please call 866-269-2493 to speak with a member of our team.
Written by Veronica McNamara, Sovereign Health Group writer
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