Sunday, January 15, 2006

death, child's or grandchild's

Probably the death of a grown child or grandchild is almost as painful a loss for an older person as the death of their spouse. The loss of a member of the next generation is becoming increasingly common today because the longer the years of life the more likely it is for a child to grow old and possibly die before its own parent. It would not be uncommon, for instance, for a 95-year-old woman to have a son or daughter, who was born when she was 19, who had died at age 75 when she was 94. When offspring or grandchildren die, feelings of loss, mourning, grief, anger, and sometimes a sense of guilt may well parallel those felt on the death of a spouse. Death of a child or grandchild prior to one's own death seems contrary to the laws of nature. People who suffer such a loss may feel that they are being punished, or that they should not have to endure such a death. Because of these feelings, recovery from grief and mourning may be extremely difficult. Most older people have had some preparation for the death of their parents, a spouse, or brothers and sisters because they will at least have thought about these possibilities. Not so with the death of a child or grandchild, unless the loss was preceded by a terminal illness. An unexpected death, therefore, can be devastating and accompanied by fear of being left alone in the world.
Today many support groups exist to help with the adjustment to death of a child or grandchild. Local hospital libraries, or the national organizations listed below often can provide information about chapters near the residence of individuals who have experienced this severe loss.
For more information write or call:

The Compassionate Friends
P.O. Box 1347
Oak Brook, IL 60521
(312) 323-5010

Dignity After Death
668 Monroe Ave.
Rochester, NY 14607
(716) 442-1150

Forum for Death Education and Counseling
P.O. Box 1226
Arlington, VA 22210

THEOS Foundation
306 Penn Hill Mall
Pittsburg, PA 15235
(412) 243-4299

Deedy. J. Your Aging Parents. Chicago: The Thomas More Press, 1984. Gillies, J. A Guide to Caring for Coping with Aging Parents. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1981.
Lester, A. D. and Lester, J. L. Understanding Aging Parents. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1980.

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