UAE | General

Coping with the pain of losing a child is a five-stage process

Time required to recover could differ among individuals

  • By Iman Sherif, Staff Reporter
  • Published: 00:00 January 9, 2012
  • Gulf News

A boy plays, unattended, on the balcony of a residential apartment in Sharjah
  • Image Credit: Arshad Ali/Gulf News
  • A boy plays, unattended, on the balcony of a residential apartment in Sharjah. The recent deaths of five children in the UAE, due to a variety of reasons, has brought forth the need to make parents more attentive in monitoring children.

Abu Dhabi: Losing a child, due to accident or illness in any circumstance is a horrifying experience, but more so if a parent had actually contributed to the dreadful incident.

The recent loss of five young children in the UAE due to a variety of negligence/accidents has brought forth Gulf News' campaign to make parents more attentive in monitoring children's activities.

The incident falls as a shock that seems so illusory, a dreamlike incident. Parents keep on analysing every step of the incident, every word said and try to understand what actually happened replaying the incident over and over in their head denying it really occurred and feeling unable to handle it

Dr Dolly Habbal, consultant psychologist

"Losing a child is the toughest experience a parent may endure, the shock is intolerable and the pain is indescribable," Dr Dolly Habbal, consultant psychologist told Gulf News.

The death of a child before or after birth is one of the most painful things that can happen to a woman.

"After two miscarriages I had at the very end of my pregnancy, I can only say the worry of losing again is tormenting," said Noha (names changed for confidentiality).

"Losing a child is and will always be excruciating, but losing a child to a disease is probably a bit less distressing than an accident, as the element of guilt adds to the pain," added Dr Habbal.

At some time, every parent worries about something bad happening, but no one expects that it would. As such, no one plans on how to deal with such devastation to the family and individuals — whether parents or siblings.

"No matter what the reason is, a part of a parent will never accept the loss, and it may end up being the toughest thing a parent will ever endure or understand. Perhaps the most important element to understand is that grieving is a process that takes time, and that every person goes through this process at a different rate. Comparing yourself to another is not a way to analyse if you are making progress or dealing with the sadness properly," Dr Habbal said.

Dr Habbal explained that grieving runs a course of five stages. The progressing rate and time from one phase to the other depends on each person.

Shock and denial

"The incident falls as a shock that seems so illusory, a dreamlike incident. Parents keep on analysing every step of the incident, every word said and try to understand what actually happened replaying the incident over and over in their head denying it really occurred and feeling unable to handle it," explained Dr Habbal

Pain and guilt

"Pain overwhelms parents at this stage and they start blaming themselves and wonder what could have been done to prevent it," she added.

Anger

"Nothing makes sense, and no pain can bring back the lost child. Parents are drowned in anger mixed with a sense of unfairness that the incident occurred to them, so they start victimising themselves," Dr Habbal said.

Depression

"Parents realise their beloved child isn't coming back. People and friends go back to their lives and parents start facing the sad reality all by themselves. The daily life starts weighing, emptiness fills them up and they are torn apart between a reality they resent and a past they want to live in," she added.

Life goes on

"Parents see that life goes on, people around them who used to support them are now busy in their lives. Parents are surrounded by all sorts of events: babies are born, graduations, weddings, happy and sad events… etc. in brief, life goes on. They start to resume work and at least do what they have to do," Dr Habbal explained.

Time may not heal all wounds, and parents will never forget. But, with time, people learn how to cope with their feelings, and begin to take steps to live their lives, but only with the precious memories of the child.

Dr Habbal explained that some will start giving themselves the chance to experience happiness again and others will agonise longer.

"My life was never the same after losing my child, some sadness shadows me. Happiness is scarce and never complete, it is mixed with sorrow," said May.

Dr Habbal explained that grief support groups of people who experienced similar situations would help.

Comments (4)

  1. Added 15:27 January 9, 2012

    Dear all In my opinion all kids are innocent while they are so young and they don’t know about the accidents to be happen with them. It’s the parents’ sole responsibility, they should keep eagle eye on their kids while they are playing in balconies in high rise buildings. Even parents should not allow their children to go in balconies. Please be watchful of your kids Kind regards Adnan Razi

    Adnan Razi, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  2. Added 14:43 January 9, 2012

    No-one can imagine the hurt that families have to endure when a child is taken from them by death. Some families never recover. Parents should bear this in mind when they're tearing down the highway with children that are not wearing seat belts. A happy family outing can easily turn into a lifetime of mourning over a dead child.

    Anthony Wilkinson, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  3. Added 11:40 January 9, 2012

    Allah shall heal all worries.

    Laila, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  4. Added 10:03 January 9, 2012

    Im glad that the topic of pregnancy and infant loss has been discussed here.As a survivor of a devastating late miscarriage, I agree with what the author has to say about the stages of grieving and acceptance with time being the only facilitator in this process.I only wish that this topic is discussed by medical providors and the public more openly and honestly because child loss what ever the circumstances can happen to anyone. So its very important that as much emphasis is placed on raising a child from pregnancy onwards, the same should be discussed on dealing with an unexpected tragedy such as this.

    Sharon, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

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