Each year thousands of American families face long-term psychological, spiritual, social and often physical and occupational hardships following the loss of a child. These hardships can pervade every aspect of life, creating formidable, and in many cases insurmountable, challenges for parents, families and caregivers. The death of a child does not discriminate transcending race, religion, marital and socioeconomic status.
The death of a child not only ushers in significant and prolonged social, health and economic ramifications for families; it also changes life permanently and fundamentally forever.
As the National Academies of Science have reported, “While bereavement is stressful whenever it occurs, studies continue to provide evidence that the greatest stress, and often the most enduring one, occurs for parents who experience the death of a child.”
When taken collectively, deaths from all causes from stillborn to age 54, an estimated 400,000 children die per year in the United States.1 One study found that 10 percent of parents over the age of 60 have lost a child; while as many as 25 percent of all mothers, who have a son and are over the age of 65, are expected to outlive their son.
Parents are likely to suffer from depressive symptoms, poorer well-being, acute health problems and marital disruption. There is an increased risk of psychiatric hospitalization among mothers in the first five years following the death. Mothers also experience increased mortality from both unnatural and natural causes, while fathers experience increased mortality from unnatural causes (i.e., suicide and accidents).
Further still, the long-term economic ramifications from increased medical expenditures, loss of wages or employment, loss of productivity (e.g., presenteeism and absenteeism) and reduced future income are just beginning to be investigated. Common public policy protections, such as the Family Medical Leave Act, do not consider child loss as a qualifying condition, while 63 percent of employers allow only three days of paid leave.
Despite its significance, no comprehensive review of child loss literature has been conducted, no national data has been collected to estimate prevalence or incidence, and no universal clinical guidelines exist to treat those suffering from grief that is prolonged and impairs daily functioning (i.e. complicated grief).
To address this broad range of unmet needs, EVERMORE is an emerging nonprofit dedicated to building a safety net for parents and families who have lost children, regardless of age or cause of death.
EVERMORE will guide and support parents and families by:
· Fostering a sense of community by collecting personal stories on loss, remembrance and coping;
· Offering methods and materials so that families can honor and remember their own child;
· Offering culturally appropriate resources on rituals, memorials, funeral rites, and mourning customs for funeral and memorial planning;
· Assembling existing resources on grieving, coping and restoration, and secondary victimization (encounters with the criminal justice system, employers, etc.) after a child dies;
· Identifying and helping families navigate marketplace services after a child dies, such as working with funeral homes and identifying qualified counselors and therapists; and
· Advancing the science of bereavement among families of all cultures, races and religions.
Regardless of how and when death comes, losing a child is always too soon, traumatic, and carries with it lifelong grief. EVERMORE will provide parents access to a constellation of programs, methods and materials to honor the absence and presence of their child in the world and in their family. Parents will feel supported by a community that fosters a sense of belonging by highlighting personal stories on loss, remembrance and coping. And, where the science of bereavement among families of all cultures, races and religions is advanced and put into practice.
While EVERMORE will never negate the lifetime of pain that parents and families experience, we will be ever-present to support parents in their quest for purpose and peace.EVERMORE was established to support parents and families who have lost a child, regardless of age or cause of death.