Have you ever stopped to think of what life must be like for the mother or father who has lost a child? Can you imagine the emotional turmoil – the sadness, distress and anguish – they must be experiencing? Often, when we see others walking through this difficult time, we don’t know exactly what to say or do to console them. Dealing with death is a complex, painful ordeal that most of us are utterly unequipped for. Doubly so when it is the death of one’s own child.
July is recognised worldwide as Bereaved Parents Month. It’s designated as a time show love and support for persons who have experienced the loss of a child or children. There are many parents who have to deal with the grief of losing a child in Jamaica. Consider the following statistics:
- According to the Office of the Children’s Registry, in the year 2016 alone, 265 children went missing and were not found. Another four were reported missing and then found dead.
- The Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) 2015 Demographic survey reported 707 neonatal deaths in 2014.
- For 2001 to 2011, the average number of deaths in children 0-4 years old was 901.
- STATIN’s 2015 Demographic survey also reported that for 2011, out of every 100,000 persons in Jamaica’s population, 192 aged 0 to 4, 175 aged 5-9, 207 aged 10-14, and 498 aged 15-19 faced the probability of mortality (based on average number of deaths over the intercensal period related to the census population).
It is difficult to even begin to imagine the kind of grief the parents of these children undergo, but that’s why Bereaved Parents Month is such a necessary observance. It gives us a chance to express sympathy for grieving parents, and to develop our own awareness of their ordeal, as well as compassion for those trying to survive the death of a child.
This July, don’t let the opportunity pass to empathise with the Jamaican parents who are grieving the loss of their children – whether through sickness, abduction, miscarriage, violence, accidents … . Let’s become more aware of these parents, and find ways to help them walk through this trying time.