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The Loss of a Child: Siblings

Last week I spoke about the loss of a child but what if that child who crossed over had siblings? Parents grieve in one way and siblings grieve in another. At a time of deep grief, how do the siblings feel parenting from parents who are lost in their own grief?

Going through the loss of a child can be very difficult for parents and siblings. Yet it can be very difficult for them to “share” in the loss. The parents may be feeling one set of emotions while the siblings may be feeling differently. Parents may feel the helplessness of not being able to protect the lost child. They may feel an emptiness that is unique to mother or father. They may feel a devastation that erupts from letting the child free into life only to now endure their crossing over. They may feel the loss of the dreams they had tied to that child. The list goes on.

The siblings, on the other hand, may have feelings of having lost a best friend, or a part of their self. They may feel guilt for surviving or for not getting along with their sibling. They may feel a loss of their own dream because their family is shattered.


The Loss of a Child

We all hear that the worst pain is the loss of a child and that it is a pain that will never go away. Then you lose a child. How do you even begin to cope, let alone heal, when you’ve been conditioned to believe it is something “you will never get over”? In this article, I will only look at a couple of thought patterns that can interrupt the healing and keep the suffering alive.

There is a helplessness that goes with the loss of a child because as a parent you were always the protector and the caregiver. That helplessness makes the grieving more difficult. The parent more often than not wants to turn inward and ask what they could’ve done to prevent, rescue or save the child. Those questions can keep the suffering alive. Whether the child has died in a car accident, from suicide, from an overdose, or from illness, the parents still have thoughts of what could have been done to prevent the death of a child. The internal questions that come about as a result of the helplessness, can cause thoughts that bring back the pain of the loss rather than the healing. In order to heal from the loss of a child the parents must be ready to accept a new beginning in the way they think about their child. They have to be willing to let go of the point of death and get back to the life the child gave them and the life they gave the child.


Why Do We Stare at Gore

Why do we stare at gore, destruction and death? Millions of people recently experienced death and grand destruction as a result of hurricanes. Why do people find themselves getting lost in the stories, pictures and fear of these disasters and others, e.g., car accidents and horror films?


It is an effort to master an old wound or perception. Let me explain.


A child spends his or her first 2 to 3 years not knowing that anything exists beyond what s/he can see. Therefore, all of the world is like magic! The child’s parent appears and disappears out of a room. If the child awakens in the crib and cries, the parent magically appears to lift the child from the crib. If, however, the parent does not quickly appear, the child feels abandoned and in his or her fear of abandonment, they instinctually know they will die. This fear of dying or not being able to survive I will call fear of destruction.


A child also sees the world from an egocentric perspective, i.e., s/he is the source or cause of all that is happening. So, when parents or providers falter and behave in an angry or frustrated way, a child must perceive his- or herself as the bad to keep the overseer as good. In other words, children see themselves as the sinners among saints. This way they are in a good safe world and as long as they control their behavior they will be ok. If, however, children see themselves as the saint among sinners, they are trapped in a haunted house with no one there to save them. They sense this. So defensively they turn the situation inside out to make themselves the bad so their world remains good. This is why movies of hauntings are so successful!



The Loss of a Child

How do you make sense of the loss of your child? How do you find closure? Is it okay to stop grieving?


It seems so many children are passing over. In my small world I know of 5 who have crossed to the other side in the past few months! You never know why they left as early as they did. They may have died at 5, 15, or 25 but they are your children and they are no longer here.


Most of you would agree that the one who passes crosses over to a place — and experience — of peace and freedom. They are okay. It is you, the parents, siblings, relatives, and friends, who suffer. Consequently, the suffering that you may feel comes from your own feelings of loss, abandonment, and whatever is happening inside you. It does not come from the child and where they are. Therefore, the closure must come from within you!


Many things make this time difficult for those left behind. So often you hear people say, “They (parents) will NEVER get over this!” That undercurrent sets a stage for a lack of healing and a continuation of suffering. Parents need to heal! They are here to have a life. Furthermore, their healing can further free the child on the other side. So, how might that happen?


The first thing a person who has suffered a traumatic loss needs to do is ask her- or himself what they believe about death. Do you believe the soul continues? Then what do you believe its purpose is? What do you believe happens? At the time of a death, you may doubt your beliefs. So, it is important to re-establish what they are and what they were.



Suicide: the lasting pain of judgment

Oftentimes when someone attempts or commits suicide the judgments follow. Yet, people want to know about the person who committed suicide or made a serious attempt. Why do people commit suicide? Why is it assumed to be a sign of weakness? Furthermore, why do we judge those who are feeling so destroyed by judgment itself?


Let’s begin by looking at the judgment itself! Many people will judge the person who is/was suicidal. That judgment can be heard in the way they describe someone who committed suicide, or the questions they ask about suicide, or their assumptions about suicide. Remember, “We judge only in the way we are fearful of being judged.” So what might this say about those who judge those who commit suicide?


In my many years of working with others I have found that just about everyone has thoughts of suicide. Sometimes those thoughts of suicide can be simply a pondering. Other times those thoughts can be fairly detailed. Then there are the times those thoughts can be very serious (3.7%, Emory University). Infrequently, thank goodness, the thoughts turn into successful attempts (0.5%, Emory University). So, using my 30 years in practice, let’s imagine that 90% of the people have a “thought” of suicide at some time in their life. That would suggest that everyone has felt pain at a level that they want to escape this life. This does not mean they were labeled depressed or medicated or anything else. It shows that just about everyone is capable of having the thought but how did they experience the thought(s)? Did those thoughts frighten them? Did they keep it secret because of the fear of the judgment or condemnation if someone found out? How did they handle “the thought”?


Most people will not share their brief or isolated, past or present, thoughts of suicide. They appear to experience shame and fear of judgment. It appears to take a good amount of trust that the person who they are telling will not judge them or act upon their thoughts. That experience alone can evoke the very loneliness and/or shame that could have been a part of their thoughts.


The emotional pain that is felt from loneliness, hurt, abandonment, or a myriad of other fear-based emotions, leaves us feeling very small, exhausted or weakened. People usually want to withdraw not go toward. They want to be left alone not accompanied.


Consequently, often times the person with those emotions are rescued by their anger coming to the foreground to express their needs in one way or another. But many other times that emotional pain leaves a person feeling too exhausted, maybe even beyond exhaustion, and so he or she says nothing. At those times she or he may resort to isolating, staying away from others. Each and every one of you knows that when you feel loneliness (not just alone) you feel like isolating from everyone. Logically that doesn’t seem to make sense but emotionally it is what happens. So, if you imagine a loneliness becoming so intense that you cannot isolate and cannot be with, then you start to understand, through that little thought what can make suicide become more of a reality. The more exhausted a person becomes the less real it seems that he or she can pull their self out of the abyss of emotional pain. If you were stuck in a 100-yd pit with smooth walls and no one knew you were there and although you began screaming out you slowly ran out of voice. Over a short amount of time, with no food and water, you begin to realize you are either going to starve to death, freeze to death, or become prey to another animal who can scale the walls. Whatever your thoughts they are anchored in the helplessness of getting out of the situation you are in that ultimately ends in the absence of life. You may choose to wait as long as possible for a miracle rescue but then choose to kill your Self gently before the suffering becomes too intense. This is similar to the emotional experience inside the suicidal person. They have lost all hope of rescue and life. Suffering has overtaken them. They think giving into the darkness is a gentle passing to peace that can be better than helplessly and hopelessly waiting for the inevitable suffering to continue.


Of all of those with whom I have worked who had more serious suicidal thoughts, 99% of them were going through a time in this life that was full of pain. Yet, it was apparent (to me and others on the outside of their abyss) that they were going to be able to heal and get to the other side it. On the other side of the painful time in life, was a life of gifts waiting for them. That being said, if the person contemplating suicide could know that there was another side that was so full of life do you really think they would step off this plane? If the person in the 100-yd pit knew there was a rescue mission coming, would they consider suicide? Usually not. It is rare that a person dies without “reason”.


Maybe you fear suicide because you were told by a religion that you would go to hell. That, in turn, may spark feelings that you are bad for even having these thoughts. Then you begin to believe that you are so bad there is no way out because you cannot be loved in this life, or get it right in this life, and, on top of that, your thoughts say you are no longer going to be okay by the very God who is supposed to be unconditionally accepting and loving. Whew! So, when you look at those who actually committed suicide you may not have the understanding to accept their choice because of your fear of the historic learnings based in judgment and not being good.


The shame that many feel when someone close to them commits suicide is also a part of all of this perceived and actual judgment. They want to keep the very secret that the person who successfully committed suicide kept. If the person in pain could have felt they could trust someone to help them through their pain without experiencing more shame would they have expressed the thoughts prior to final stages of decision making? We cannot be sure but the odds say probably. Shame of suicide is taught by society and family. The shame is a feeling of bad, a feeling of why do people see me like that when that is not who I am, a feeling of “ucky”. Ask your Self, who around you sees suicide (and, consequentially, thoughts of suicide) as one of those definitions? You can then see how it is kept secret. When already suffering with emotional pain, a person does not want or need to add to that the shame of judgment.


A colleague mentioned that many people feel selfish when someone dies because they do not want to deal with the death. I found that an interesting observation. People may talk of themselves or tell the other want to do or stay away from talking about the death as a result of their own discomfort with the idea of death. When that death is a suicide, if that very person experiences much discomfort with the idea or action of suicide, they may further get wrapped within their own self to deal with it.


Maybe people want to judge those who commit suicide simply because they’re angry at them for killing themselves. Being angry at someone who kills their self is a very healthy part of dealing with the traumatic loss, a sudden loss, or loss in general. Add to that an understanding that, for most, the only way they know to deal with their anger is to use their anger. What that means is that if they are hurting in their anger they then spew forth words that are hurtful to or about another. If they feel abandoned and small and weak behind their anger then they will spew forth words of abandonment and weakness to the other of the other. To judge the person who committed suicide as weak is to label them as not good enough. The very probable underlying cause of their choice.


In conclusion, there are many fears and fears of judgments that lie within an individual who lashes out with judgment of an individual who suffers, or suffered, with such extreme emotional pain that they fold up in the comfort of suicidal thought or action, respectively. If we begin by looking at the judgment of suicide that rests within each person, within their religions, and within their cultures/society, we begin to gain an awareness which is the first step in healing. If we begin healing the judgment that surrounds suicide, it may become much easier for those suffering with such severe pain to speak openly about their thoughts and pain. If they can talk about it openly and safely maybe, just maybe, we can begin to save lives. We will be saving lives by offering understanding, acceptance, and compassion. Those are the very feelings missing inside the darkness of the pain of the suicidal person. Think before you judge, ALWAYS!!!! You never know where that verbal knife will pierce the other.


I wish you all a day filled with compassion and acceptance of self and another, one at a time.


Death and Your Legacy


I saw a young motorcyclist get hit broadside and killed the other night.  I was 3 cars back in the left lane when the guy making a left hit and killed the motorcyclist.  The young man didn’t even know what hit him.  He appeared to die instantly. He was on his way home from work. It was an overcast but clear afternoon.  He had no idea that night was his time to cross.  His family and friends were not prepared.  Here one minute and gone the next.  It was sad.  Yet there is a gift in his death.


We all die.  Most people live so unconsciously they do not know when they are going to die.  Others are conscious in their living and have a knowing or at least an awareness. And yet others suffer with illness that allows them an external awareness they are dying.  The experience of this young man’s death brought me a gift.  If I die tomorrow, what is the legacy I leave behind?  Then I asked a second question.  What is the legacy I wish to leave behind?


This life has purpose. Each of you is capable of learning that purpose.  It is inside you and about the experience YOU are having on this plane: your internal experiencing of life.  It is about the challenges you face and if you choose to master or continue to allow the suffering.  It is about the relationships you forge and how true they are to you and how true you are to them.  This life is about living beyond the suffering that it presents to you.  All challenges can lead to greener pastures if you look for the gift they offer in their purpose.


That young man’s life had definition and his death was a part of that purpose and definition. It was a shorter experience than he “thought” and that his family and friends “thought”. We all have free will.  There may be choice points along the path of life that allow us to cross or continue.  The more conscious we are in our living, the more we see on the path of life and, consequently, the greater our opportunity for conscious choice. If our focus is on our job, our money, or what others think and expect of us, then we do not know who we are fully.  The external focus is not of you and who you are.  It is about others and things. If you knew you were going to die tomorrow would you work 12 hours today and go home frustrated? Would you focus on meeting expectations that please others leaving your Self lonely and unattended to? Would you be worried about the person who accidentally cut you off? Ask your Self if your last day would be better by not taking work so seriously that you carry it home with you. Would it be more fulfilling to feel known and understood? Would you be grateful that the person did not hit you for both of your sake’s (no one wants to hit anyone).


Allow the short life of that young man to gracefully gift all of us.  Take the time this week to write down the legacy you would leave behind if you died tomorrow.  Then ask yourself what legacy you wish to leave behind in this life.  Do they match?  Be sure they are complete.  Think about your eulogy and how you would be described by each person in your inner circles: your partner, boss, colleagues, employees, family members, neighbors, friends, etc.  Take the time necessary to be thorough in your definition of your legacy.  Then live it!  Every day live!  Feel life! Feel your Self alive!  Feel your choices and interactions and mistakes and…..  Let this young man’s short life be a gift toward fulfillment in yours!  May each of you find joy within!


A Personal Story of Loss

Little Bug

It’s nice to be back in touch with you all. Thank you for opening my newsletter and for being a valuable part of my life and career. It has been an unusual summer and it’s happenings are why I have not been actively writing. Yet, it is the very happenings in life that open us to the greater aspects of life. Let me share…


After 12 years of companionship, I lost my pug, Little Bug, tragically and unexpectedly. Then 6 weeks later, exactly, I lost my adopted dog, Miss Jiff. She too was a sudden loss and unexpected. Between those two deaths, I lost my Aunt, my mother’s sister. Crazy right??! I had 3 very close friends who, in those same weeks, lost their animals. Little Bug and Miss Jiff offered me many gifts in their lives with me. Consequently, in their deaths, they offered me gifts as well. Animals are here to serve us and to reflect to us what we need to heal. They are an integral part of our purpose on this plane. Death and loss are also integral to our purposes. We lose relationships from break up, divorce, and death. Each ending opens us to something new in our Self and in our life. (In order for one minute to exist the previous minute must die.)


Many, who feel loss as painful, deal with it by diverting their attentions so that they do not think about the loss or death. On the morning after Little Bug died, I was with a friend who was talking about pictures he had taken in the Everglades. Periodically, I would look out onto my patio and think of Little Bug and feel the need to cry. Then I would reconnect to what he was saying and I would feel the emotion push down while I attended externally to the story. Finally, I looked at my friend and said:
I can’t wait until you leave so I can cry! Not that I want you to go, but I can feel the need to be alone and allow this to be released. I am amazed how I look outside the window and feel the resurgence of the sadness and then when I listen to you it is pushed back down. I can only imagine that this is how the majority of people choose to “cope” with the hurt of their losses — they stay externally focused so that they do not have to “feel”!!!


For many with grief, it may appear that time helps us move through the stages and come to a comfort of some sort. But time does not necessarily heal. Our release of the pain and that which causes it does. If we stay away from the crying and the release and wait for time to pass, we do not have the opportunity to heal. That is why so often years down the road, you may find yourself crying with the very grief you felt at the time of loss.


Miss Jiff


Many people have asked me how I am doing so well with the losses I have experienced in such short succession. There are several reasons. One is because I live In a state of acceptance and because I have healed a large part of my fears of loss. I still feel the sadness but not the devastation. Consequently, the sadness heals quickly and allows for me to move into a place of enjoying the lives gifted me. Those who cross over do not want you to suffer. That is not, ultimately, why they passed in the way they did and at the time they did. Second, their deaths were in the natural order of things. Our pets and older relatives usually pass before we do. Third, I took the time to understand why. Why they passed when they did and how they did. What the gifts in their passing are and will be. Fourth, my genuine feeling they are in a great place and that their time here was complete. I am then able to let them go. They are on their journey and I am in a place where I do not want to hold them back.


There are several more magical teachings that came out of this time in my life. I will share those at another time. I have enjoyed the unfolding of life that has occurred as a result of my experiences. Yet, it feels great to be back on a “normal” schedule and to be writing again. I thank you all for joining me in my weekly ponderings.


Acknowledgements: I would like to personally thank, Dr. Nancy Keller and Dr. Ayla Akbulut for their magnificent teamwork in the treatment of my animals – those who passed and those who are still with me. I would also like to thank Dr. Kim Simons and Lap of Love for the in-home euthanasia. And finally, with all my heart, I would like to thank my family (Mom and Sister) and friends: Deborah Paiva, John Chervenak and Sue Singer, Pat Price, Michael Lynch, Mary Sol Gonzales, Melissa Knight, Milagros Castro, Michelle Worthington, and John Morales.

Kristen Bomas, PA
398 Camino Gardens Blvd., Suite 104
Boca Raton, Fl 33432


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