twitter facebook stumble upon rss

Hope for Those Coping with a Child's Death

sign up for the momlogic newsletter Tweet This

When I was in graduate school studying depression, I recall with uncomfortable clarity a comment made by my professor.

sad woman sitting in the dark

Dr. Wendy Walsh: When asked if all depression was curable, he nodded, and then added, "except perhaps depression associated with the loss of a child." That's exactly what Stephanie Muldberg of Short Hills, N.J., experienced. In 2004, she lost her 13-year-old son, Eric, to Ewing's sarcoma, a bone cancer, and for four years, she thought she was doing okay. "I didn't do a lot during the day, but I managed to get dinner on the table and drive my daughter to her classes. But I was putting on a big show. I was a zombie."

When her daughter finally brought her sadness to her attention and a friend severed their relationship, saying she was "no fun anymore," Stephanie found Dr. M. Katherine Shear, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia. Dr. Shear administers a 16-week experimental kind of therapy specifically designed for something she calls "complicated grief" -- acute sadness that lasts for more than six months.

Shackled with survivor's guilt and fear of letting go of her precious son, Stephanie's grief had become a preoccupation that hung out in the background of her day, yet it was also something she had avoided facing head-on.

Dr. Shear's treatment, a technique borrowed from treatment for PTSD, involves a revisiting exercise that focused on pleasurable experiences Stephanie had with Eric to help reactivate pleasurable memories, memory work sheets, and eventually tape-recorded stories about the trauma of his death. She was instructed to play the tapes every day at home as a way to teach her brain how to compartmentalize. It taught her she could turn off sadness. "My grief became more comfortable, less shocking. It's like you get used to it. I had been afraid that if I let go of the grief, I would be letting go of Eric. But the opposite happened. I remembered him more and was able to hold onto him as a positive memory rather than a chronic grief."

The therapy also showed her she could turn on pleasant memories of Eric without feeling guilty. Another part of the exercise involved letting go of survivor's guilt. Dr. Shear asked her to imagine a conversation with her son and ask him questions she needed answers to. Then she was told to construct his answers. For Stephanie, the questions were simple: "I wanted to know if I had been a good mom. And I wanted to know what he wanted to be in his life. His future."

Today, Stephanie feels she has her life back. She can experience joy without guilt and have pleasurable memories of Eric without debilitating sadness.

Each year, two-and-a-half million people die, and at least four other people (per death) are severely affected. For some of these people, the pain does not go away and becomes complicated grief, something that Dr. Shear says is now treatable.

next: Man Dies of Stroke After Watching Avatar
19 comments so far | Post a comment now
glen November 17, 2010, 8:00 AM

Thanks for sharing. I understand your feelings. Didn’t expect to find such a story on the internet when searching where to get weight loss pills for my customers

pay day loan December 10, 2010, 3:30 AM

Hi just thought we would tell you something.. It is twice now i’ve landed on the blog in the last 3 weeks hunting for totally unrelated things. Spooky or what?

online payday loans December 10, 2010, 3:56 AM

I used to be just browsing occasionally and also got to learn to read this post. I must say that we are in the hand of luck today otherwise getting such an excellent post to see wouldn’t are actually achievable for me personally, at least. Really appreciate your articles.

cash loans December 10, 2010, 4:47 AM

Easily i am not saying against that which you saying but i have to exclude that you’re not valid on this issue. Why in the world person convertd a great deal in length of time? Can’t we just coincide on all causes? We’d comparable injury in our business.Decoding the condition want some concentrated analysis

fast payday loans December 10, 2010, 4:48 AM

I keep hearing what is the news update lecture about receiving boundless online grant applications therefore i are exploring the best site to obtain one. Might you advise me please, where could i buy some?

pay day loan December 10, 2010, 6:44 AM

Wow, that’s an incredibly nice read!

pay day loan December 13, 2010, 1:30 PM

Thanks a whole lot to your downright post.this is the words that sustains me on course straight during my day. I’ve been searching around just for this site after being referred to them at a colleague and was thrilled as i was able to locate it after in search of reasonable length of time. Like a demanding blogger, i’m hopeful to remarked further ones taking initivative and causing the community. True planned to comment to indicate my appreciation to your website because it is very intelligent to try and do, plus some writers will not accumulate acknowledgment they deserve. My business is definite i’ll return to their office and will send a few of my girlfriends.

payday loans December 13, 2010, 1:56 PM

Intriguing article. I realize I’m a little late in posting my comment nevertheless the article ended up being to the point and just the data I became seeking. I can’t say i always believe all you could mentioned but it really was emphatically fascinating! BTW…I found your website by using a Google search. I’m a frequent visitor for your blog and definately will return again soon.

same day payday loans December 13, 2010, 2:33 PM

Many thanks for taking a few minutes to discuss this, I find myself strongly concerning this and love learning on this topic. If at all, when you gain expertise, could you mind updating your blog with extra information? It is rather great for me.

payday loan December 13, 2010, 2:43 PM

I had been extremely pleased to find this great site.I need to to appreciate this brilliant read!! I definitely enjoying every little it and that i have you ever bookmarked to view new stuff you post.

no fax payday loans December 13, 2010, 2:45 PM

I had been questioning occasion you ever considered altering layout , design on the website? Its really correctly created; I really like what youve obtained to convey. But possibly it is possible to small additional with respect to content so males could get connected to it greater. Youve obtained a really total wide range of text for only obtaining a single or two images. Maybe you’ll manage to area it greater?

payday loans no credit check December 14, 2010, 7:27 AM

Hello, Today in the new directory of blogs. I don’t recognize how your site came up, need to have been a typo. Your website looks good, employ a nice day.

pay day loan December 14, 2010, 7:58 AM

Intriguing article. I am aware I’m just a little late in posting my comment however the article were to the purpose and the info I became seeking. I can’t say which i agree with all you mentioned but it was emphatically fascinating! BTW…I found your website by way of a Google search. I’m a frequent visitor to your blog and definately will return again soon.

online payday loans December 14, 2010, 8:24 AM

Hey! Wanted to leave a comment. I truly enjoyed this article. Carry on the awesome effort.

payday loan December 14, 2010, 9:01 AM

I loved this post. You describe this topic well. When hiring home contractors it’s key to go with a trusted name in construction. Experienced and efficient staff should strive for excellence and seriously consider every detail of your home.

cash advance loans December 14, 2010, 9:11 AM

Hello from Russia! Will it be easy for me to quote a submit with your weblog with the hyperlink to you? I’ve tried contacting you about this problem nonetheless it seems i cant reach you, please response when have a moment, thanks.

fast payday loans December 14, 2010, 9:13 AM

Hi just thought i’d personally tell you something.. It is twice now i’ve landed on your blog in the last 21 days in search of totally unrelated things. Spooky or what?

no faxing payday loans December 25, 2010, 3:24 PM

To be sure with your thoughts here and i also really like your site! I’ve bookmarked it in order that I’m able to return & read more later on.

Natural Weight Loss Pills February 6, 2011, 12:24 AM

Men and women are often interested in the near future and have spent heavily to assure that the long term is as exciting as can be. A few individuals even have a go at a number of methods, ways or a name change to always make sure that there is a good chance.

Back to top >>