For parents and caregivers experiencing the loss of a child due to family court injustice, divorce, and other types of separation.

 

 

Know When to Ask for Help: Notice the signs of stress and seek help or support.

 

Common signs of stress may include- fear/anxiety, racing/repetitive thoughts, over eating, sleeping too little or too much, crying, and lack of energy (not wanting to do things you once enjoyed). It’s understandable that you would feel that way, especially if you have survived trauma, abuse, lengthy court proceedings and loss of a child/forcible separation. Be gentle with yourself. Make a plan to deal with stress, especially for times you may be triggered most like during holidays.

 

Get support for you: Visit/Call friends, Visit/Call Family, Go to a special place that is comforting to you (church, park, museum, coffee shop, etc), Go for a drive, Call a local crisis line, Exercise, Watch a movie, Read a book/journal

Don’t feel obligated to spend time with people who don’t support you. Avoid stressful situations or relationships with a polite refusal. Setting boundaries is important to maintaining your strength, and being able to focus on what is most important.

 

 

 

Make a Call: Call a support or crisis line if needed.

 

Here are some links to crisis numbers in the USA, most are toll free

Support4Hope Crisis Numbers- http://www.support4hope.com/crisisnumbers.htm

 

Suicide Hotlines: http://suicidehotlines.com/

 

4Therapy Hotline and Crisis Lines: http://www.4therapy.com/consumer/resources/item.php?categoryid=32&uniqueid=7006

 

Prayer Page Prayer Lines: http://www.prayerpage.org/1800/

 

The Encourage Prayer Line: http://www.encourager.us/prayer_request.htm

 

  Turn Up the Music: Music is a good way to boost your mood, and give yourself comforting or positive messages. Especially if you are dealing with trauma or painful memories, music may soothe or redirect your thoughts.

 

Take Things Slow: Don’t try to plan too much or take on too much. Give yourself time–sleep in, take a long bath, cry, make a phone call.  Adding too many activities or “should do’s” will provoke unneccesary stress, and may cause further harm. So be gentle with yourself ❤

 

 It’s Okay to Plan a Holiday without Your Child: It’s okay to visit friends, family or go places even if your child is not with you. Those activities may be painful, and you may feel a loss—even though your child is not with you, they will be close in your love and care for them.

 You may want to commemorate your child by saying a prayer, looking at pictures, spending time with things that remind you of them, lighting a candle, or speaking with others who are close to your family. You are going through a grieving process, and its is understandable to want to remain close to your child, in any way you can.

 If your thoughts provoke anxiety, nightmares, inability to cope with every day life or you feel“stuck” or overhelmed, you may want to seek help from a counselor or support group.

 

 Send your child a card or letter: Be positive, and let your child know you care. You may want to include a “treat” such as stickers, coloring sheets/mazes/word finds (etc), cartoons/comics or photos.

 

 Call Your Child on the Phone/Send an E-mail: If you are not sure what to say, stay positive! You may want to read a short book, sing a favorite song or have some jokes on hand.

Keep the conversation light, and centered on the moment—ie: don’t get into the past or difficult things your family is experiencing.

 

 Some ideas for topics to talk about: Cartoons/Movies, School, Friends, Holiday Plans, Music, Funny Stories, Favorite Memories, Riddles/Jokes, Animals, Sports

 Let your child know you care, be sure to reinforce positive messages

 

My thoughts & prayers are with you — Evanlee, 2009

See Also:

Common Responses After Losing a Child

https://parentingabusedkids.wordpress.com/2008/11/07/common-responses-after-losing-a-child/

 

Writing a Fun, Meaningful Letter to Your Child

https://parentingabusedkids.wordpress.com/2009/03/11/letter2child/

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A list of common responses/reactions after losing a child in a family court proceeding

Mothers who loose their children in family court proceedings often experience (and report):

* Character assination and/or emotional abuse of the mother (who may be labelled as having “Parental Alienation Syndrome” or “Malicious Mom Syndrome”)

* Minimizing past abuse and its affects/Minimizing the current danger

* Legal proceedings that deny a mother of her legal rights

* Feeling threatened or coerced by court personnel

*Expensive legal or court costs, often resulting in severe financial hardship (I have heard of mothers losing their home and being forced to work several jobs, in which their contact with their children becomes even more limited)

* Re-traumatization

* Inability to protect children combined with valid concerns the children may still be in danger

* Children forcibly removed from the home (a majority of these mothers were primary caregivers)

* Mothers denied contact with children–these children are oftn abruptly, and without warning removed from their homes, their community, their friends and any connection to the mother

* Mothers being compelled into supervised visitation to see children, and may be exposed to other abusers (I have actually heard of a woman who took the bus to supervised visitation, and was stalked by an alleged abuser when leaving the premisis)

* Inability to get help or support for herself. Mothers may have their medical and psychological records subpoened by the court and/or their abuser, in which she degraded or labelled based on the findings and then forced to “prove” she is a fit mother. Mothers may also become isolated because they feel others do not understand their situation. It is common for people to feel overwhelmed hearing these stories and then to be unable to provide support. The financial depletion caused by family court may also limit a woman’s ability to seek help. Not to mention the woman may be so overwhelmed that she does not have the energy to get the help she may need.

* The abuser manipulating the children, or using them in ways to hurt, intimidate or harass the mother (Ie using children to send messages to the mother, telling the children false information about the mother, threatening to harm the children, threatening to take the children, etc..)

Mothers who loose their children in this way often experience:

* Physical Illness (including but not limited to headaches, ulcers, vomiting, fatigue and exhaustion)

* Anxiety/Panic Attacks

* Depression

* Guilt/Shame/ Self-Blame, particularly around issues that they failed or could not protect their children

* Flashbacks (The court proceedings may trigger memories of abuse, or legitimate fears)

* Binge Eating and/or Lack of Appetite, Nausea

* Insomnia

* Shock (A combination of all these factors, feeling numb, unable to perform daily tasks, feeling as if she is living in a fog, lack of memory/concentration, tremors/trembling, hot flashes etc)

* A surge of emotion/adrenaline

* Hyperventilating

* Post Traumatic Stress

* Avoidance (Especially around areas that remind them of their children. It would be common to even avoid social places and friends)

* Withdrawl

* Anger

* Fear

* Fits of Crying — There are often triggers. When I lost my child, I remember avoiding the grocery store because I would pass my child’s favorite treats, think of my child, and start to cry. It got to the point where I could not even remember what I wanted in the grocery store because I was so upset.

* Memory Loss/Concentration Difficulties

THIS DOES NOT MEAN THE MOTHER IS MENTALLY ILL OR UNSTABLE, these are typical responses to the loss of a child in combination with the extreme stress of being involved in family court proceedings that are perceived as unjust, and which a mother has no control over. It takes time to work through the grief and emotions of losing your child, and being involved in family court proceedings–these response may emerge and change as the mother processes what has happened.

I found it helpful to be part of a domestic violence group, hosted by a battered women’s shelter. The group is confidential and does not keep records. I was able to talk with other women and learn tools on how to cope, and rebuild my life. There is hope–Stay stong.

Blessings ~ EJ

If you have anything to add to this list, please add a comment. Please keep remain respectful. Any derogatory language will be deleted.

Quotes:

“Unfortunately, courts may apply psychological pressures that keep women tied to their abusers. “Friendly parent” statutes ask courts to assess each parent’s willingness to co-parent when making custody decisions (Zorza, 1992). Despite their reasonable reluctance to co-parent, battered women may end up being labeled “uncooperative,” with an increased risk of losing their children.” –Child Custody and Visitation Decisions in Domestic Violence Cases: Legal Trends, Research Findings, and Recommendations. By Daniel G. Saunders (October 1998). http://new.vawnet.org/category/Main_Doc.php?docid=371

“Abusers are smooth talkers who are good at manipulating situations to their liking, she said, even with law enforcement. When officers first respond to a domestic call, the victim is often hysterical while the abuser is calm and cool, and so he sometimes makes a better impression on officers.” –Statistics on domestic violence tell a sobering tale, Crookstone Daily Times.  By Natalie J. Ostgaard, City Editor (10/31/08). http://www.crookstontimes.com/articles/2008/10/31/news/24news4.txt

LINKS:

Mothers of Lost Children: http://www.mothers-of-lost-children.com/MOLC_welcome.htm

“Child Custody in Cases Involving Domestic Violence: Is It Really in the “Best Interests” of Children to Have Unrestricted Contact With Their Mother’s Abusers” by Molly A. Brown: http://www.mobar.org/journal/2001/novdec/brown.htm

Lundy Bancroft (Find Freedom and Healing from Trauma, Abuse and Childhood Wounds. Also addresses custody issues): http://www.lundybancroft.com/index.html