The Reason

There are numerous support programs, camps and resources for families whose children are struggling with chronic or terminal illness. But once a family has lost a child there are very few resources for them to safely work through their grief and learn to adjust.

According to the New England Journal of Medicine in a study of more than 1 million people who have lost a child, "78% of mothers and 38% percent of fathers who have lost a child are at a greater risk of having a first psychiatric hospitalization than a parent who has not lost a child. The risk is still significant five or more years after the death."

Besides the trauma to parents, the effect on the surviving children in a family is also significant. Children often experience guilt and extreme sorrow and feel a sense of losing their parents. Children will often withhold their feelings, pretending they are not sad or angry, or act out in other ways.