One of the most difficult losses to bear is a child's death. According to Wayne Wolfram (2006), a "child's death is often viewed as tragic" because "unlike an adult's death, it is [perceived as] unnatural"(Wolfram, 2006, sec.3 para.2). This is the common sentiment because in the normal scheme of things, a child does not die young and without yet gaining the opportunity of living a "full life"(Wolfram, 2006, sec.3 para.2). In a normal situation, no parent ever desires his or her child to be taken by death at a young age thus for those parents who have suffered from child loss, the sorrow of eternal parting leaves them truly empty and heartbroken. A child comes from the parents. The mother gives birth and lovingly works hand in hand with the father to raise the child. It is therefore quite appalling that all the efforts of parenting will only end up useless as the child early departs the world for eternity.
Nevertheless death happens. Whether young or old, it comes at the appointed time and the next best thing for people to do is accept it as part of the natural course of things in this mortal life. Learning therefore how to survive a great tragedy such as losing someone whose presence we greatly value is essential.
Grief is universal. It cuts across culture, gender, race and religion. Although the expression varies for each individual and is expressed in utterly diverse ways depending on one's culture and religious beliefs, bereaved parents experience and feel the same universal pain. Whatever sorrow parents feel upon the death of a child is similar to what is being felt by those who have experienced loss. Losing a child either through circumstance or disease is devastating. The grief that fathers and mothers undergo is an ordeal that can at times leave them debilitated and desperate. The sadness needs therefore to be expelled.
Like those who have suffered from a loss at some point in their lives do, parents who have lost a child go through the standard stages of mourning. Going through the process of grief is vital in order for the bereaved parents to finally be able to move on with their lives. A great amount of knowledge about the different stages of mourning is a major requirement in coping with a death of a child or a loved one.
According to Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross (as cited by Knealing, 2002), people go through five stages of mourning after "death touches their [lives]" (Knealing, 2002). The stages are identified as follows:
Stage 1 Denial
Losing a child can be a shocking experience. In consequence, bereaved parents commonly find the truth of the matter hard to immediately absorb and accept. This tendency to block and dissociate one's self from reality is a "defense mechanism" (About Grief and Bereavement, n.d.) many individuals find useful when dealing with death, dying or great loss. This is a natural and helpful reaction as the loss is still too painful to acknowledge. Such somehow buffers the upsetting truth and helps parents who have lost a child to move on and look into other important concerns such as specific funeral requirements and preparation as well as carry out other daily tasks necessitating keen attention.
Stage 2 Anger
Anger is imminent when bereaved parents commence dealing with the veracity of death in the family. Some parents