Any parent who has lost a child understands why there are no words in our language that could ever describe the gut-wrenching pain and grief. It doesn\u2019t matter whether your child died after a long illness or if your child passed away suddenly \u2013 either way can leave you feeling broken, your heart shattered into a million tiny pieces.\u00a0 Healing seems completely impossible, and the stifling grief darkens your entire world.\u00a0 As impossible as it may seem, it is possible to learn to cope with the loss and go on living.\u00a0 It\u2019s not time that heals all wounds \u2013 it\u2019s what you do with that time that makes all the difference in the world. Common Reactions to a Child\u2019s Death There is no right way to feel after the loss of a child. You may be experiencing intense confusion or shock even if you had known your child was going to die.\u00a0 Feelings of overwhelming sadness or despair are common as well. You may also be holding onto anger that your child\u2019s life ended far too soon, or grappling with rage over circumstances surrounding his or her passing. You may also be in shock, or in denial that your child is even gone. There is also no set timetable for these painful emotions. Intense grief may continue for several months, a year, or even longer. The pain may seem to lessen for a time, only to come rushing back during the holidays or your child\u2019s birthday. Other milestones can also stir up grief, such as the first day of school or graduation. These waves of emotion are common and, while they may become less intense over time, they may never go away completely. Although grief and the emotions connected to it may endure for some time, when they continue for an extended period \u2013 or if they trigger other symptoms \u2013 it may be that your unresolved grief is turning into major depression. Symptoms of clinical depression may include sadness, hopelessness, worthlessness and loss of interest in daily activities. Physical symptoms may include loss of appetite, disturbed sleep and fatigue. \u00a0Excessive guilt \u2013 particularly related to your child\u2019s death \u2013 is not uncommon.\u00a0 Suicidal thoughts may also be present; some parents may be in such pain that death is viewed as an escape \u2013 not to mention a way to be with their child once again. Addressing Unresolved Grief and Depression \u00a0\u00a0 If your grief or depression is interfering with your ability to live, work, and handle your responsibilities, it\u2019s important to talk to your physician or a mental health professional. While grief is normal, chronic unresolved grief and subsequent depression are not.\u00a0 Treatment typically involves talk therapy, but in more serious cases antidepressant medication may also be necessary.\u00a0 Because grief can be a prolonged process, many mental health professionals will not consider a diagnosis until at least two months after the loss. Suicidal thoughts should be taken very seriously.\u00a0 It you\u2019ve been contemplating suicide since the death of your child, reach out for help immediately. Talk to your physician, your pastor or priest, or your therapist if you have one.\u00a0 You can also contact a local mental health clinic, go to the nearest hospital ER, or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or your local suicide prevention hotline. Healing From the Pain Nothing will ever completely take away the pain of losing a child. However, there are strategies you can use to cope with that pain in a healthy way that allows you to honor your child\u2019s memory and move forward with your life. Find an experienced therapist. Therapy is an effective way to help you express and work through the feelings surrounding the child\u2019s death. The first step is to find a therapist who is experienced in handling grief. He or she will talk with you about the guilt, intense sadness, anger, frustration, and any other emotions you may be experiencing. You\u2019ll also learn ways to express those feelings and handle the waves of grief that you\u2019ll likely continue to experience. Working with a therapist can help you address other issues that may affect or prolong the natural grieving process. For example, self-medication with alcohol or drugs will hamper your ability to cope in a healthy way. If you abuse substances, a therapist will refer you to a treatment program that addresses the alcohol or drug use so you can then deal with the loss. Understand that grieving is personal. There is no right or wrong way to grieve for someone you loved so much. Some individuals wear their emotions on their sleeve, while others keep their feelings hidden from the world.\u00a0 While there are common stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance), you may not experience every stage or go through them in the usual order.\u00a0 If this occurs, you shouldn\u2019t feel guilty or as if something is wrong with you.\u00a0 Allow yourself to grieve in your own way and don\u2019t compare your experience to that of someone else. Consider marriage, couples or family therapy. A child\u2019s death can cause significant stress on a relationship. In fact, your most significant relationship may already have been under major stress if your child had a serious or terminal illness. This strain has been seen in couples who had experienced a stillbirth as well; couples were 40% more likely to break up in the decade afterward than those who hadn\u2019t experienced such a loss. Loss also affects relationships between divorced or estranged parents, which, in turn, can negatively affect living children the parents share. A marriage, couples, or family therapist can help you and your significant other find ways to communicate in an open and honest way \u2013 one that promotes healing while building a stronger relationship. Join a support group. Losing a child is a unique experience that can be fully understood only by those who\u2019ve gone through it. Find a local or online support group dedicated to helping parents or families work through the loss of a child. Groups may host regular meetings or events, as well as special camps for siblings of the loved one who has died. Express your emotions. Losing a child produces intense emotions that can be hard to express. One way to work through that sometimes unspeakable grief is with creativity. Consider activities like art therapy, dance movement therapy, or music therapy. If possible, find a program specifically geared toward the grieving process. However, if you can\u2019t find one, any artistic activity will help you express grief and other emotions. Connect with your spiritual side. Faith does help some people work through tremendous loss. If you practice a specific faith, consider speaking with your pastor, priest, rabbi, or other religious leader. He or she will provide spiritual guidance and may also be able to refer you to others in the faith community who have experienced the same kind of loss.\u00a0 Some churches offer healing programs for the grieving, so you may want to consider using those resources. Even if you don\u2019t follow a specific religious belief, you might find peace in a practice like meditation, which allows you to calm your mind. The loss of a child is the most painful experience any parent can go through. There are no magic pills to make you feel whole again, but there is help. Contact a mental health professional today so you can finally begin to heal and move on with your life.