Parent loses child to cancer

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Four-year-old, Putri Nitta Taqiah has lost her fight against liver cancer despite 28 grueling months of battling the ailment. Read on for the full report and advice on coping with the loss of a child.

No parent wants to see their child go before them, let alone even suffer. However, Madam Rodhrah Yati Mohd, 44, experienced both and more when her youngest child, Putri Nitta Taqiah was diagnosed with liver cancer before she reached her second birthday. And the family lost their child to cancer.

Losing a child to cancer

The doctors had initially only given her six months to live but Putri defied the odds with her will to live and spent over two more years brightening the lives of her family and everyone she met.

She finally succumbed to the ailment earlier this week, four days after her fourth birthday.

A family’s sacrifice

There is no denying the love that Putri inspires. So much so, Madam Rodrah, herself a single mum left her job to stay home and look after Putri. Furthermore, Nina Tazqiah, 14, Putri’s elder sister also took a year off school to stay home and help her mum look after her sister.

Loved till the very end

Her family remained by her side till the very end and although weak, Putri responded to all the love emanating around her. She was lucid enough to utter the four words that her mum continually repeated to her. “I love you too.”

Touching lives

Putri’s pleasant disposition and zest for life made her a joy to be around. It also made her leave an impact in many lives, right from the Minister for Water and Environment, Vivian Balakrishnan to our very own Singapore Idol, Taufik Batisah, who both expressed their sadness at her demise.

A princess to her mother--always

Her mother is glad that Putri had a chance to celebrate her fourth birthday twice, once in grand style with a princess theme two weeks before her actual birthday and a more intimate affair with her family on her birthday itself. The early birthday was planned as doctor’s feared that she would not be around to meet her fourth birthday.

Yet at her birthday bash, Madam Rodrah described Putri as enjoying herself as she sang, danced and excitedly cut her cake--a picture of excitement and happiness.

One last time…

On the day of the funeral, it was Madam Rodrah who carried Putri’s body down to be sent to the cemetery. She did not allow anyone else to help her as she says, “For the last time, I just wanted to carry her in my arms.”

Coping with the loss of your child

The death of a child is never easy but the best way to deal with the pain is to allow yourself and your family to grieve. Here are some things that you can do to ease the process.

Things that you can do to help your family and your other children grieve:

  • Make grieving a shared family experience and include your children (if they are old enough) in discussions about the funeral preparations.
  • Spending as much time as possible with your surviving children, such as talking about their deceased sibling, going out or even playing with your other children to distract the family from the pain of the loss.
  • Make sure your other children understand that they are not responsible for their sibling’s death and help them let go of regrets and guilt.
  • Never compare your other children to the deceased child and make clear to your children that you don't expect them to “fill in” for the deceased child.
  • Be open to allowing a close family member or friends spend some extra time with your other children if your own grieving prevents you from spending too much time with them.

Suggestions to help parents grieve:

  • Talk about your child often and use his or her name.
  • Ask family and friends for help with housework, errands, and taking care of other children. This will give you important time to think, remember, and grieve.
  • Take time deciding what to do with your child's belongings – for example you don't have to rush to pack up your child's room or to give away toys and clothes.
  • Prepare for how you want to spend significant days, such as your child's birthday or the anniversary of their death. You may want to spend the day just looking at photos or visiting their grave.
  • Join a support group especially for grieving parents as sharing the pain with other parents who are feeling similar pain and understand what you are going through can help with the grieving process.

For a parent who loses a child to cancer or any other circumstance, it always feels like the end of the world. But taking time to heal is an important part of the grieving process. Take that time.