The Grief of Child Loss Hurts Worse in Year Two!

Nobody can really explain what the pain of losing a child is like.  It’s a pain that only those experiencing can understand.  Undeniably, it’s the worst pain anyone will ever go through!

Naively, I thought the pain of losing my son would feel a lot    better in year two.  Was I in for a heart-wrenching surprise!  That second year knocked me to my knees and left me feeling so empty that I didn’t even know if I was truly alive on most days.Even when we are experiencing the grief of child loss there is a hidden misconception that all is going to eventually be well.  That’s not how it works, though.  Once the fog of the first year lifts, reality hits like a punch right in the center of the chest.  I actually felt heart pains — so much so that several times I thought I was having a full-blown    heart attack.  Grief plays havoc with our emotions as well as our physical health!  And, a broken heart gives off signals constantly that something is very, very wrong.

Child loss is not something that is ever expected, nor is it ever something that we welcome.  Never, ever do we think it will happen to us.  I guess that’s human nature.  We never think the bad stuff will happen to us personally.

When my son died, I immediately went into what I would call full     blown shock.  I functioned in a daze for months.  I was flat-line, showing little to no emotions.  I cried, but I didn’t sob.  I smiled, but I didn’t laugh.  I felt bone tired.  Exhausted all of the time.  I felt sad.  More sad than I had ever felt in my life.

As the months rolled on, I began “coming awake” — slowly moving from the fog into the hard reality of what had happened.

My son died.  Unexpectedly.  Heart failure.  Young.  Father.  Married.  No warning.  Nothing.  Alive and living life fully one minute.  The next minute gone forever.

I cried until I screamed. Moans came from me that didn’t sound human. My thoughts ran wild.  I couldn’t slow down my mind.  Sleep wouldn’t come.  I stuffed myself with comfort food.  I was a walking mess of pain and turmoil.  I couldn’t think.  I couldn’t stop the tears     flowing.  I was in a state of deep, inconsolable grief.

And, I didn’t know what to do.

Year two is such a hard year of grief following the loss of a child because everything suddenly becomes so real.  No more did I dream about the possibility of my son walking through the kitchen door. No more did I think he was going to drive his family up my driveway for Christmas.  No more did I think we were going to vacation together at the beach.

No more.  He was not here and that was real.  It was raw.  It was heartbreaking all over again, only worse because now I understood that it was for real.  There was no turning back.

I am now going into year three and my grief is changing once again.  It has quieted some, but the sadness is still so big and so raw.  Most days I have to stop my thoughts because I’m so afraid that I will drop down into “that place of darkness” again.  I feel a bit more in control of my thoughts and emotions.  I can talk about Mike without tears flowing like a river down my face.

And, I know that the hole in my heart is there forever.  Nobody can fill that space except my son.  I will always feel the pain of his absence.

I am a mother who will forever grieve the fact that her son left this earth far, far too soon.

Love,

Clara

***If you connected with these thoughts, you will also connect with the words found in this book, Child Loss – the Heartbreak and the Hope.  You can order your book from Amazon today.

If you are going through a period of feeling hopeless due to your grief, this book, Hope 365: Daily Meditations for the Grieving Heart will help you to rediscover your purpose and hope in life!

 

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48 Comments

    1. I’m in year 22 after the loss of my first son, and year 9 after the loss of my second son… nothing’s changed from day one… except I miss them more, I hurt more… I still can’t talk, or even think about them without falling apart. My chest still hurts, most of the time I’m on auto-pilot… so much that there are brief moments when I wonder: “how did I get here?” Then decide it doesn’t matter that I have no idea how I drove home today, the real question is “why am I still alive?”

      1. I completely understand. I lost my oldest son 6 months ago. The pain is terrible. some days are worse than others. I must say the only comfort I can get is believing in the afterlife. Its what gets me out of bed every morning and keeps me afloat. There is a lot of evidence of this, and it can bring some comfort feeling the signs when you are open to receiving them.

        This being said, this is the worst pain an human can experience…Hands down

    2. I agree Fran, my son Casey will be gone 6 years on July 27 th. Even as I say this I feel like I am talking about someone else. God help us all.

  1. Yes. Yes. This is me. Shock and pushed through first year
    looking for relief then none in the second year. Reality. My only child age 22 died

    Collapsed and now trying to figure it out.
    No stages just time. Lots of time without and trying to keep sane and alive
    Still cry when I speak of Nick.
    Not every time but most
    I am looking forward to death

  2. I read you post and I am so scared of year two. I am 5 months in and the pain is so bad. And I feel so out of it. I am most afraid of feeling worse than I am now. I have heard this before. I find the only way to have some normal time in my brain is to push my son out of my head. I wonder what my future holds for me? There are no words to fully describe what we go through as parents. I feel like I am different then every other person I am around now.

  3. I am into the month that our son died suddenly one year ago. The pain is just as real if not more so than that day. Our son was Down syndrome and had been at my side for 36 years. I heard something today that rang so true. A mother said there is no closure, there is no getting over it, there is no recovery and there is no moving on you just go on, but you carry the pain with you forever just below the surface.

    1. Jennifer, I think that’s a good way of describing it. We go on carrying the pain just below the surface.

      I’m so very sorry for the loss of your son!

    2. I feel ur pain sadly Linda my 13yr old son Xavier passed away 4months ago and I try talking to close friends now & I feel so much different frm. Them now I only feel relief slightly when I share with another grieving mother & my mind is on my bby boy 24/7 I am scared my other 3 children will hate me for putting all my time & energy into Xavier and not them it’s so hard I will pray for u and just kno u R not alone……

  4. this Sunday would be Chris’ 48th birthday. I wonder how is life would be this yr. Aug 22nd will be 5 yrs since he was killed. I grieve every single day and always will. I know full well he is dead. I just can not get my heart around that he is gone. on face book there s something that goes around. on the outside I’m smiling, on the inside I am screaming. I had to put his cat, Tommy” to sleep and it was like losing Chris again.. I have changed so much. some not for the good. I don’t care one way or another about the driver. I am pissed at the justice system that failed time after time. i do not go to the cemetery. there is no comfort to be found there. there is no comfort to be found anywhere. just another day to get through. i go to work and do things etc. it is just marking time. i believe Chris is just out seeing what there is to see. that is how i have to think about it. Chris’ mom aka muskrat.

  5. Thank you, thank you. The comment was made to me once, “Oh, I thought you were over that by now?”, although it’s only been 6 and 5 years respectively. “Getting over” does not happen. Learning to live and allowing yourself days or weeks of joy eventually happens. Our souls, who we are, are indelibly change for Eternity.

  6. I too am in the beginning phase of year 3. Everything you wrote is so true. My world is forever changed. My son, Thomas was 28 and had so much life left to live. Fast and aggressive cancer, 5 weeks after diagnosis. I miss him everyday. I know life goes on and everyday I’m learning how to do this without him. Thank you for your words. Lisa

    1. Lisa, I’m so very sorry for the loss of your Thomas. Oh, how much it pains us as parents to see our children’s lives brought to such an early halt. Holding you close in thought today. It takes a long time for us to figure out to do live life with a child missing. It’s a process, a very, very difficult process!

  7. Hi.
    I know your pain. I am in year 23. My daughter was 15 when she suddenly became sick. We went to the hospital for a precaution. She died two and a half hours later. Orly had contracted Meningitis. She died from Meningococcal Septicimia. I wish I could say that time heals the pain. It does not . However, the waves of this terrible hurt, subsides for periods of time, so that you can enjoy aspects of life. I have another child, and grandchildren, as well. I allow myself to have happiness. Yet, at night, in the darkness, the loss of Orly, overwhelms me. I am sorry that I cannot say that the pain will pass. My daughter deserves my tears.

    1. Gail, I’m so very, very sorry for the loss of your daughter. How much I appreciate your final statement, “My daughter deserves my tears.” I love that!

  8. Sonya, Oh, how right you are! We learn to live within our pain. And, we do eventually reach a place of a more “quiet rest” than the raw pain, but this is a journey we’re traveling, and not an easy one!

  9. My daughter died 13 1/2 years ago just before turning 25. She went to sleep and didn’t wake up. I don’t remember if the second year was worse than the first or not. I just know it is not something you get over. It just becomes a part of who you are. I wish no parent ever had to become a member if this horrid club we have been thrown into.

  10. Hi Clara, I’ve lost two children – twins – one 15 yrs ago aged 24 and one 14 weeks ago aged 39. My boys would have been turning 40 next August. I guess I had reached the place of “quiet rest” after the death of my first boy, I pray that I have the strength to go through “this” again and hopefully reach that place again…..
    To survive the death of your children takes so much strength and is exhausting.
    I still cry for my son who died 15 years ago – now I have two holes in my heart. Thank you for your words they are a comfort
    Viv x

    1. Viv, I’m so, so sorry. Life sure can get rough! You’re so right — grief is terribly exhausting. It drains us of everything to the point we feel totally empty.

      I hope and pray that in some way the words we share here will help you. I’d also like to suggest the book I wrote after my Mike’s death on hope. HOPE 365 – Daily Meditations for the Grieving Heart. This book contains a brief message of hope for each day of the year. I pray you’ll get a copy and use it every day. I think it will help. My love to you.

  11. My Jamey died at 22, 11 years ago. The grief hits me in waves and at times I don’t think I can bear forever. Time doesn’t heal the pain, it just makes it bearable.

  12. We lost our son Joshua in 2012. He was 26years old, and killed only 2 weeks after he graduated from Purdue. He was shot in a robbery and died alone. He was my only son, and as a grieving father, I can tell you after 5 years the pain is still there, but we have learned to hide it, and we try to function best as we can. But life is changed, it is not ever going to be the same. We have a new path to walk, and as much as we hate it, it is our only path. Take comfort in knowing you are not alone in your grief, there are many of us, that are feeling your pain.

  13. First I type this with many tears.I have read all the post my heart goes out to each of you. I am the Mother of 6 sons 4 being twins. Kenny and his twin turned
    14 on Sept 3 rd 2011.kenny died Sept 21st. I don’t even remember the first 2 years. I just know I am to blame.

    14 Sept.3rd 2011,Kenny died Sept 21st I don’t even remember the first 2 years.Here’s what I remember.

    14 Sept.3rd 2011 on
    Sept.21st Kenny
    died. I don’t even
    remember the first 2
    years. This is what I
    remember Kenny and
    his younger brother
    Thomas were out
    trying to catch a
    ground hog, Kenny ‘s
    twin Benjamin was at football practice

    was at football practice. Thomas and his father left for baseball practice and then it was Mom and Kenny’s night as Kenny had baseball Monday night and Puppet practice at church Tuesday night. We sat and played rummy then made egg rolls we were having a blast but then the phone rang it was a women who was not in our car pool. She asked if I could please pick up her son Kenny was shaking his head go ahead Mom but I said to her it wasn’t my night, that I would call the other Mom and if her husband was home I was sure she could,but if he wasn’t home there would be no room with two car seats.

  14. On the 20th of this month will be 9 months since I lost my son in law and my daughter both ages 36 and my 4 precious granddaughter’s ages 11,7,5 and 2 in house fire. It is devastating to me. Plus exactly 2 months later I lost my mother. I can’t imagine any worse pain than I feel right now I’m dreading year two then. It’s been a real challenge for me to want to go on and if it weren’t for my son and his wife and 2 daughter’s and my youngest daughter I don’t know where I would be! This is killing me more each day

  15. The 3rd year is the worst for me b/c it took me 2 years to resolve unfinished business with my daughter. I lost my only child and grandaughter in a tragic accident and I just can’t get it together.

    1. Rachel, I’m so, so sorry. Please be kind to yourself and don’t expect too much just yet. In the scheme of what has happened reaching the 3rd year is a very brief time after your losses. It takes a very long time to work through this kind of trauma. I’m hoping that you have a very strong support system in place to help you on this journey of loss.

  16. I’m coming up on the 3 year mark in a couple months. Lately I’m overly sad and emotional. Reality becomes more real as more time goes by without my son. My mind is all over the place. He died in my arms of brain cancer at age 21 and every day is a painful reminder of things he didn’t get to do and a life he doesn’t get to live. It doesn’t get easier

  17. I am so sorry to hear about about the pain we all are going through . I am suffering with this same pain for last 15 months when my 25 yrs old son Sahil left this world . It is a forever pain .life has lost its meaning . Everyday I feel like joining him up there . It has made a permanent hole in d heart . Day starts with tears and ends with tears . Nothing gives peace . Can hear him laughing , talking and movingaround d house . He deserves my love and my missing him all the time .

  18. It’s been twelve years since i lost my 23 yr old son from hear failure he died in my arms at home and the sound that came out of me was not human my love for this child is still so strong and I still cannot give one day without him on my mind life has changed I had a huge hole that I’m still digging my way out I have two faces one for them one for me

  19. My son was killed by a truck driver reaching for his phone. I know in my heart it was an act of carelessness and the trucker is tormented daily. I have forgiven him. My only son was and is my life. A year and half and tears still roll daily. My daughter in law turned against us. My grands (17&13) do speak… but only when we call and they decide to call back.I know my son is resting in peace. Thank you for letting me share.

    1. This has really torn at my heart. To forgive under circumstances such as you did takes a huge heart and lots of understanding. I’m sure your tears do fall from your eyes daily. I’m so very, very sorry for the loss of your son. It sounds like you’ve not only lost your son, but your daughter-in-law and you’ve partially lost your grandchildren. You’ve had a whole series of losses, and I’m sure that has escalated your grief.

      In the book, Child Loss – the Heartbreak and the Hope, please check out Chapter 5. It’s all about family relationships following the loss of a child. I pray that the words in that chapter will help you — even if it’s only in some small way. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  20. I clearly remember year two. I thought something was very wrong with me because I was feeling worse, not better. Then I read in a book that year two is so much harder and for the very reason you stated. The fog lifts and reality sets in. It’s now been a little over six years and I fully realize the pain of losing my son will never go away. I will mourn him until the day I die. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have joy in my life. My family gives me great joy and I thank God every day for such blessings. Thank you, Clara, for your comforting words. Always saying what we are thinking and feeling.

  21. I really want to make a comment but I’m not sure how to say it, my son Bailey passed away after an accidental drowning a little over two years ago, my saving grace was my newborn son Oliver Bailey born two months to the day after Bailey grew his wings, while holding my son close mad things easier I also developed the opinion that “the housework can wait” I tried to spend my waking moments giving my energy to my sons physical and emotional needs ..as some days that was all I had the energy for… so in truth I shelved my grief to the point where now i struggle with apathy about everything…My life became more about quality, rather than quantity…. I may have gone overboard with this new outlook on life to the point where Social services have taken custody of my son on a 2 year order…last February, My son has now just turned 2

    while I am ashamed to admit this.. In the best interests of Oliver, this perhaps what the wake up call I needed, They are worried that my “unresolved grief” is affecting my ability to parent to the best of my ability and that Oliver growing up in a messy environment would affect his immune system and make him prone to illness…. What i need to do is find that balance between quality time with my son and keeping my home clean and safe… As we currently stand they are satisfied with the progress we have been making and are on track for reunification within 6 to 12 months… I am also seeking counselling but im unsure as yet how this will help with my grieving journey

  22. My son, Derek, took his own life Dec. 27, 2015 at the age of 24. It is so hard for me to put my feelings into words. It still doesn’t seem real to me. I miss him so much!! I feel so blank most of the time. Such a huge hole in my heart! 🙁 I did order your book, Child Loss-the Heartbreak and the Hope. I just haven’t read it yet.

    1. Diana,
      My heart hurts so much every time I read of another young person taking their own life. I don’t have any great words to say other than I hurt so much with you and I pray that there will be a day when you are able to feel a bit of joy again in this life. I sincerely think there are some things in the book that will help you — when you are ready.

      Love,
      Clara

  23. I lost my son 10 years ago…19 yrs old and his life ahead of him. He died due to someone driving reckless. During year one I almost could convince myself he was still at college, on a golf trip with his team etc. Year 2 was so much harder because it was our reality and it sucked!!! Ten years has made it softer but never easier….I miss him as much as I did they day he went to heaven. Thank you for a beautiful article….my thoughts exactly💙I’m sorry about your son. God bless you💙

  24. It’s always struck me as puzzling when people who are grieving assume that their grief experience is the template that all others will follow. This is especially odd given that everyone agrees that everyone’s grief is different. I think a realistic viewpoint is that while some people have more trouble the second year, not everybody does. In fact, about 1 in 10 bereaved people never experience more than mild grief. (Of course, you never hear from those people in forums like this.) Many factors influence the severity and duration of grieving symptoms. Your mileage may vary and one person’s experience is not everyone’s experience. I also question the wisdom and value of telling someone who is newly bereaved that the second year is going to be worse. How is this helpful, especially when it’s not guaranteed? Suicide rates are high among bereaved parents. Does it make sense to tell them things are going to get worse when it is not certain? Maybe somebody can explain this to me. Of course, I fully support everyone’s right to tell their own experience. But generalizing an individual’s experience to everyone’s experience seems questionable. I blogged recently about the way different risk factors affect a grief experience. This information may help people understand why what they’re experiencing is different from other people’s experience. I hope everybody gets some peace today and I’m sorry for the losses that brought us here.

  25. My son died on July first, so I am just beginning my second year. I cry everyday and relies more then before, just how much I miss him. Everything about him! Every inch of me hurts again!

  26. UR WORDS HAVE TOUCHED ME PROFOUNDLY, I JUST LOST MY 13YR OLD SON XAVIER 4 MONTHS AGO HE WAS KILLED ON 02-24-17 AND NOT ONLY AM I DEALING WITH THE GRIEF OF LOOSING A CHILD I AM ALSO HAVING TO DEAL WITH THE FACT THAT HIS KILLER IS STILL RUNNING FREE LIVING IN OUR SMALL TOWN I KNO WHO SHE IS & I KNO WHERE SHE LIVES I HAVE THIS HORRIBLE ANGER INSIDE OF ME BUT I KNO IF I ACT ON MY ANGER THE LAWS WONT TAKE ME SERIOUSLY HONESTLY I’VE ALWAYS BN THE TYPE OF PERSON THAT DOESN’T TAKE B.S. FRM. ANYONE ESPECIALLY WHEN IT COMES DOWN TO MY CHILDREN SO I MUST SAY I HAVE HAD TO LEARN HOW NOT TO ACT ON MY ANGER AND TO LOOK AT THING’S IN A NEW DIFFERENT LIGHT IT’S SOOOO HARD AND MY HEART IS BROKEN FOR MY BBY BOY IT WASN’T SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN THIS WAY HE WAS DEPRIVED OF HIS WHOLE LIFE HE WAS ONLY 13YRS OLD AND IT STILL DOESN’T FEEL REAL I FEEL LIKE HE IS GOING TO WALK THREW THE DOOR ANY MINUTE NOW IT’S SO BAD THAT I HAVE OPTED TO SELL OUR HOME BECAUSE IT JUST HOLDS TOO MANY MEMORIES OF OUR XAVIER EVERYWHERE I TURN I AM REMINDED OF HIM AND HOW HE IS NO LONGER WITH US!! I ALSO AM DEALING WITH THE FEELINGS THAT MY OTHER CHILDREN FEEL LIKE IT’S ALL ABOUT HIM NOW & I’M NOT THERE FOR THEM I TRY SO HARD TO NOT MAKE THEM FEEL THIS WAY BUT IT’S SO HARD XAVIER & I WERE SO VERY CLOSE I LUV ALL MY CHILDREN & WOULD DO THE SAME FOR EACH ONE OF THEM IT’S JUST SO HARD FOR ALL OF US ESPECIALLY MY 20YR OLD SON EZEKIEL HE WAS ALSO VERY CLOSE TO OUR XAVIER HE WAS LIKE A FATHER FIGURE TP HIM BECAUSE SINCE THEY WERE LITTLE IT’S ONLY BEEN ME & THEM THERE FATHER IS NOT IN THE PICTURE LIKE THEY WANT HIM TO BE SO I WORRY FOR MY OLDEST SON VERY MUCH ALSO HE IS FEELING XAVIER’S DEATH JUST LIKE A PARENT WOULD HE IS A GREAT INTELLIGENT YOUNG MAN AND HAS HIS OWN BUSINESS ALREADY A BARBER SHOP WHICH HE OPENED RIGHT AFTER GRADUATION IN 2014 BUT NOW HE SAYS THING’S LIKE “SINCE XAVIER IS GONE I FEEL LIKE I HAVE NOTHING TO LIVE FOR ANYMORE MY LIFE FEELS LIKE IT HAS NO MEANING!!” I JUST DON’T HAVE ANSWERS FOR HIM OR MYSELF BECAUSE I FEEL THE SAME WAY……..

  27. We walk the same path…..you are me and I am you. the second year was torture……the rest the same in varying degrees. How do you stop loving until it aches? How do you stop yearning with every cell in your body to have them back? You Don’t Ever

  28. I lost my 28yo daughter suddenly in Feb. 2005. It has been over 12 years and its not any easier now then it was the night God took her home. A piece of my heart went with her. I will never, ever be the same person I was.

  29. I just loss my oldest daughter Tami Day42 Jan 14, 2017 while on the coast with her nephew celebrating the 6th Angelversary of my youngest daughters passing Jan 10, 2011 and she dies in her sleep the next morning and still have no results my youngest daughter fell in her home and suffered a brain aneursym blood alcohol level .04 went into a coma and was brain dead I turned off life support after 6 hrs and still feels like it just happened, lost my dad april 12, 2012 and my ex husband passed march 17,2017 so I have been overwhelmed by all this loss. I get through each day by remembering the good places, times n pics and still have good n bad days life goes on and I make the best of it. thx for your web page reading about others lets me know I m not alone in my grief. I know they are alll in Heaven and I will rejoin them when its my time.

  30. My son on Dec 3 Rd the day after his bday he had just turned 25 .he had been in an accident at work and was parlized from it he lived 5 yearsbut was in an out of the hospital .it was the hardest thing I have ever been through
    I cry and miss him so much . please keep me in prayer some days I don’t know if I can go on .

    1. Karen,
      I am so sincerely sorry. So much sadness for you and for your son. Life sure can be so hard! I have just said a very special prayer for you, and I am asking God to bring a special peace to your heart. During moments of our worst sorrow and grief, it helps to hand it all over to God. Take some very long, cleansing deep breaths, and as your tears fall remember that you have many prayers being said for you.