A few months back one of my friends said she had been talking to her boss about me. They said they didn't know of a word for a mother or father who lost a child. There is a word for a spouse who loses a spouse, a widow or widower. There is a word when a child loses parents, an orphan.
But my friend got me thinking. I hadn't heard of a word and I wondered why not. I thought there must be a word in another language as English is somewhat ascetic when it comes to those kinds of emotional words.
I asked a friend whose native language is Spanish if there was such a word. No, she didn't know of a word in her language either. She said losing a child was too terrible to have a word for it.
I still thought, this act of losing a child has been around forever, why has no one put a name to this awful existence.
I posted the question on Yahoo Answers hoping that a linguist would answer. I am sorry to report, although I received numerous answers, there doesn't seem to be a word to describe a parent who loses a child.
Here are some of the responses I received:
jmmevolve said No parent should outlive their child. It is just too devastating.
dcfringringhoe said "desolation I think. There is no word to describe the loss of a child - it must be the most awful thing in the world. So bad that no-one has invented a word for it.
eduardo agreed with my Spanish speaking friend and said "I think the idea itself is taboo, so nobody even dares to give it a name. In Spanish, my native language, there is no word for that either. It's too painful."
hafiz said "There is no single-word. Let's assume, if at all you need then there can be two-words: 'grieved-parent/s' (God forbid)."
cj said "devastation-incredible sadness, emptiness. No parent should survive their child. "
imagineitnow2012 said "I remember in some movie it was said "It's just too horrible to have a name"
and country girl said "I can't imagine losing one of my kids. But, you make a very good point. I can't think of one. "
And some people just responded "there is no word"
Obviously, this is my very meager attempt at finding out, to give myself a name, a descritpion; but it seems no one has been brave enough or had enough love to assign a word to this terrible predicament, this awkward position that I find myself in.
It's kind of sad, really.