Losing a child is a pain that no parent expects to have to suffer, and one that no-one but a parent can hope to understand. Parents invest a great deal of time and energy in their children and hope to watch them grow up and have happy, fulfilled adult lives. They don’t expect to be alive when their children die.
It doesn’t matter how old the child is when they die: two or thirty-two, sick or normally healthy, it’s still too soon. Their parents will feel disbelief, anger, fear, despair. If it’s an only child who dies they can feel very hopeless and without purpose.
If the child was already grown up there may be other problems to cope with, on top of the grief, such as disposing of the child’s home and its contents or becoming guardians of grandchildren.
Where there are other children in the family, parents may become over-protective of them, become reliant on the other children for support, or even become distant from them. The children may become needy or difficult in response. Or the whole family could be brought closer by the tragedy.