Questions for couples: what would you do if your child died suddenly?

Doctor presenting the word virus against glowing swirl on black backgroundOne of the hardest questions for couples might very well be, what would they do if their child died suddenly?

That’s exactly what the parents of 4-year-old Eli Waller had to figure out this week. The New Jersey preschooler died suddenly due to Enterovirus 68, a respiratory illness that has been sweeping the United States preying on young children.

Symptoms of the sickness are a lot like the common cold or flu, with many patients coughing and wheezing. Little Eli went to sleep with no signs of the illness and simply never woke up.

The death of a child, especially when it is sudden and unexpected, seems to go against nature. Many couples just don’t make it through such an event, but there is hope.

Advice for grief-stricken parents

The loss of a child is like a blow to the stomach – and everything else. It will shake a person to the core and your life will never be the same in any way. Losing a loved one is hard for anyone, but for parents losing a child, it is on a whole other level.

It is important to remember that it is possible to make it through such a tough time and still live a meaningful life with each other, filled with love. But it takes time, effort and plenty of patience.

Losing your child will test your relationship in ways that you could never imagine. It is not like infidelity or financial problems. You will be stretched to the limit, and hopefully you will bounce back. The key here is to remember that you both will grieve in very different ways. Try and have an open mind and accept each others styles of grieving and coping with the loss. Don’t assume the other isn’t suffering just because they haven’t cried for days on end.

It is helpful to make connections with others who have suffered a similar loss – so join a support group. This may seem awkward at first, but it really does help. You’ll soon see that you can survive this loss and start to move on.

Just remember, it is important to take care of yourself, but also make sure that you take care of each other. Try and incorporate something positive into your day everyday.


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