SELF – This Mom is Carrying her Terminally Ill Child to Term to Save Lives
Research shows we can tolerate suffering better when it means something, and we can find a purpose we believe in. Research also shows that helping others drives down feelings of depression and anxiety. It may just be that staying grounded the other lives Eva will save through her organ donation will help her parents come to terms with her tragic loss.
Support from friends and family members is crucial during this time, licensed clinical psychologist Alicia H. Clark, Psy.D., tells SELF, but a couple ultimately has to decide how open they want to be about their baby’s diagnosis. Some, like the Youngs, may find comfort in sharing it on Facebook, while others may simply need to find support from loved ones that they know won’t judge them.
Clark says it’s important for families to recognize that the days and weeks following delivery and a child’s death will be “brutal.” “This is where the support of loving family and friends, self-care (sleep, nutrition, getting outside), and meaning will be most needed,” she says. While many people wonder if they’re grieving in the “right” way, Baker says there is no proper way to cope with a loss, as long as you’re not harming yourself. “It is a natural process that all of us experience in our own way,” she says.
Clark says it takes time to move on, but it is possible. “You will move through this,” she says. “It doesn’t mean you’re crazy if this is really hard. It means you loved.”