The name for a parent whose lost a child.

I found it! The name for us parents who have lost a child!!! I’m sure others have walked in the search for the conundrum that no one has ever defined one word to describe a parent who has had to bury a child, and found what I did. However, that doesn’t lessen my excitement in finding it.

I found it here, and it wasn’t like someone made it up, a professor from Duke did the ultimate research to finally put a name to who we are and what we endure. Thank you, Duke Professor Karla Holloway! I sure hope you find this and others like it and derive some joy at finally naming us.

A Name for A Parent Whose Child Has Died

Upon losing my husband the first early hour of a Tuesday in April 2015, I became, forever, a widow. Now we all know that a widow is a woman/wife whose husband has died.

Not one of us wanted to change our title in our marriages. Not a one. However, the fact was that we, in the blink of an eye lost the one who was closest to us, like the touching of bare skin on a summer day and we became a widow.

I remember walking around shaking my head, repeating [in my head] I’m a widow. I’m no one’s wife. I’m a widow.

I am the Widow Hutchinson. Makes me want to bow like in those King and Queen Castle movies.

Widow is a sanskrit word that means empty. When I read that line in Professor Holloway’s paper my heart and mind agreed with the meaning. That’s exactly it. Empty was a tangible feeling, widows can touch it. Empty remained for months upon months, keeping grief company on the couch that I rarely moved from.

I’ll take the definition and I’ll raise you the definition and word for a parent’s loss.

Now I’d suggest you read Professor Holloway’s paper. I wonder if she might be a member of our group. A grieving parent in search of a name for what she had become. I know I wondered and was confounded that we as a society didn’t give these suffering parents a title.

Because for the love of all that is good and holy, they, we, deserved one. So here it is …

Vilomah, meaning against the natural order.

Again my heart shouts YES! YES! Thank you!

I’m a Vilomah. A widowed vilomah. A woman who buried a husband and a son.

The Widowed Vilomah Hutchinson; though I don’t think I’ll be actually running around flaunting the title as that would be crazy. However, I was relieved to find the title that explained my circumstance.

It may or may not be, in your personal opinion, normal to bury a spouse. I don’t, it was never a part of our plan. His death killed all of our plans, and I suddenly had no future. I didn’t know what my life looked like.

But I had my kids, my adult boys to pull me out of my futureless existence.

Burying your child, now that is not natural. Ever. It shouldn’t ever be. It certainly is against the natural order of things. So I sat there, on the couch that I had just recently rose from, again, pondering just how deep and wide sorrow could invade one  heart.

Wondering what words I would use to explain who I was now.

Widow did not encompass my unique situation. I had lost exactly 1/3 of my family in a 16 month period. And while death is never expected when it actually comes, we were prepared, whatever that means, when my husband died.

Now let me just say this,  saying we were prepared is what we say because it makes other people happy and content with our company.


Losing my son, well that was a numbing shock. I would sit on that couch, my best friend forever, and yes even sometimes now, longing for my husband to comfort me in this new profound and deeply painful grief. Feeling the grief sink even deeper in the realization that he was not there for my comfort, and that I must face the loss of someone closer to me than even my husband had been. I had just lost a literal part of my body. Alone.

And there was no word I could use to explain and comfort those who offered the usual platitudes. But come to think of it, there was. Mother. I was the mother of the deceased. I did not cease to be his mother simply because he passed. After all he resided within me for 10 months. The mother of the deceased, my boy has been gone for 7 months.

Yet I still pondered why there wasn’t a universal title for us.

And now there is. Vilomah. It even sounds right when said out loud.

God bless you, us, all. The widowed. The vilomahed. We who traverse the parched vastness of deep loss.

Thank you for reading.  1Andrea




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