Overcoming Tragedy: The Death Of Your Child


Overcoming Tragedy: The Death Of Your Child
Letting go of a loved one is never easy, but remembering their love can be the best way to cope.

In facing this situation, there are some things that you can do. These things may not take away your pain, but it will help you to be better at peace with the situation.

  • Share memories from your loved one's life with others.
  • Consider what your loved one would want done in a situation like this.
  • Seek out spiritual resources and include things like prayer and song.
  • Consider what your faith group says about life and death, consulting a leader if necessary.
  • Speak to your loved one as if he/she was there — take this opportunity to say the things you wish you could have said.
  • Support and accept support from other people.

In the case of the Pott family, following their daughter's death, they decided to sacrifice their own privacy and use her death as a launching point for their efforts to stop similar events from happening to others. This can be done through formal organizational means (as in the foundation set up by the Pott family).


In the case of the family of Rehtaeh Parsons, her father wanted his daughter to be remembered for "the giving heart she had. Her smile. Her love of life, and the beautiful way in which she lived it." The family chose to allow her death to mean life for others. Her mother reported that through organ and tissue donation, her daughter was able to give life to four other people and sight to a fifth. Knowing that they continue to be giving even in death can be a comfort to the family and can create new memories to add to the other memories you have of their life.

In the case of the Richard family, The Boston Globe shared this photograph of Martin Richard, who was standing near the finish line of the marathon when he was killed in the blast. "We thank our family and friends, those we know and those we have never met, for their thoughts and prayers," he said in a statement. "I ask that you continue to pray for my family as we remember Martin."

Being willing to let go when a loved one is in this state and being willing to allow other things to come out of their death is a great gift that you can give. This is something that only your love for them and the life that they have lived can give. It is not easy, but this type of love can trump the events that have led you to this place. In so doing, as you continue in your grieving process, you can find wholeness and peace.

Article contributed by
Advanced Member

The Rev. Christopher L. Smith

Marriage and Family Therapist

The Rev. Christopher L. Smith, LCAC, LMHC, LMFT has served as a national leader around mental health issues both within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and in professional counseling organizations.  He works directly with individuals, couples, families and supervisees as the Clinical Director of Seeking Shalom in New York City.  He also brings his insight to help a wider audience through writing, speaking and consultations.

Location: New York, NY
Credentials: LAC, LMFT, LMHC, MDiv
Specialties: Couples/Marital Issues, Forgiveness, Spiritual
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