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by Tshepiso Makhele by Tshepiso Makhele DEALING WITH THE DEATH OF YOUR CHILD It's important to understand that grieving is ajourney O parent deserves to lose a child, but sometimes that can't be avoided. The experience can be a painful and devastating one. Clinical psychologist Moloko Modupe says,"While there is no right or wrong method to mourn for your loss, beating yourself up about what you could have done to prevent the death and blaming yourself for what has happened won't help you. This will only delay your process of healing and can bring you unnecessary ailments." She further explains that it is normal to experience shock, denial, numbness and disbelief. Moloko says after some time, you will also experience feelings of anger, sadness, regret and loneliness. And although losing a child is a life-changing experience, it doesn't mean that your life is over. 5O Move! i 2 SEPTEMBER 2015 "lt's important to give yourself time to mourn your loss, but it's not okay to remain in that state forever." She adds that there will come a point where the grieving period ends and this doesn't mean that you have forgotten about your child. In the movie, Lila&Eve, Lila feels that moving on with her life after losing her son is an indication that she has forgotten about him and given up on finding the people who murdered him. But this is not true. Moloko says people should give themselves time to heal. "All wounds can heal with time,"she says. She also explains that, "In the beginning just saying your child's name or looking at their pictures might be too painful. "But as time goes on, you will begin to heal, treasure the moments you shared, celebrate their life and let the memories make you smile". In the movie, Lila doesn't take time out to heal. Instead, she allows grief to consume her and force her to make decisions she will later regret. Moloko says after such loss, parents experience a lot of stress. "They sometimes feel that moving to a different place may help them deal with their grief, but this can mean moving away from the support system given to them by relatives and neighbours who care,"she says. She also points out that people grieve differently, adding that "while mourning the loss of your child, you should not allow family members to force you to do things you are not yet emotionally ready for". Lila wasn't ready to clear up her son's room and make space for her youngest son. Her hurt after finding out that her youngest son had already cleared his brother's belongings shows that she was not yet emotionally ready for the task. PICTURES: SUPPLIED TIME TO LET GO Moloko says some parents find that going through their children's belongings after they have passed on brings a feeling of closeness. She however says that, at some point in the grieving process, your instincts as a parent will tell you when it's time to clear your child's belongings. "The loss of a child isn't something you will get over. So allow your instincts to guide you when it comes to the task of clearing your child's room and on what you want to keep in their memory." TURN TO YOUR FAITH NOT AGAINST IT "The loss of your child can either make you turn to your belief system or against it,"Moloko says, adding that some people may begin to question God and his love and protection upon their children's lives. They may blame Him for their loss. Others may find that their faith is their source of strength and look up to God to help them heal. "Often after some time, the people who are mourning the loss of their loved one return to their senses and to their faith.They acknowledge that being angry at God isn't the answer. They re-examine their loss and celebrate the time God had given their loved ones on earth,"she says. GRIEF AFFECTS YOU PHYSICALLY AS WELL Losing her son takes a toll on Lila. She struggles to sleep, consumes a lot of alcohol, and shuts herself from the outside world. Moloko says this is because when you are mourning, your body goes through trauma. She explains that, "you may find it difficult to concentrate on anything, feel tired all the time, and struggle to eat, sleep or even remember certain things". She says during this time, it is important to remember that alcohol or drugs won't lessen the pain. This can instead cause a chemical dependence that can delay the grieving process. Drinking lots of water, eating good food and taking light walks is very important. UNDERSTAND THE EMOTIONS Guilt and regret Similar to Lila, a lot of parents may feel that they could have done something to prevent the death of their child. But Moloko says as you share your feelings about your loss with other grieving mothers, you may begin to understand that there was no way that you could have prevented your child's death. Loneliness No matter how hard people try to show empathy, a bereaved parent may feel the pain and loneliness that only a few people who have been in her situation can understand. Moloko says, "Even with people around, a mother who hasjust lost a child can still feel alone." Anger In the movie, Lila is furious and her anger is aimed at the people who took her son's life. Moloko says at times, this anger can also be aimed at God or the dead child. She, however, says that unlike in Lila & Eve where Lila's anger is used negatively, anger can motivate you to open a support group. Wishing to die Moloko says, "Some parents wish death upon themselves, with the hope that this will reunite them with their dead child." She says when these feelings become overpowering, seek professional help right away. USEFUL CONTACTS Call the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) on 0800 70 80 90. LIFE LINE 021461 1113 YOUR LIFE WHAT READERS SAY What is the MT, wa to cope after losing l" c ild? Ithink being in God's presence and having a supportive family is the best way to deal with losing a child. The Bible says we should give all our problems to God because He cares about us. Pray and accept it. I lost my 17-year-old boy. He was excited to go to Grade l2. He passed away on the same day that he got his results. People thought I was going mad. But God helped me to be strong. We all handle our pain and situations differently. Everyone must deal with the loss of their loved one the best way they know how. The pain will pass. Get support from the people around you or keep yourself busy with something that won't remind you of your loss. You'll eventually feel better. Getting counselling and prayer are the best ways of dealing with the loss ofyour child.Talking about it will help you heal in the long run. M L O G O S: NIKE -TSHIRT

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