WACO, Texas — Bereavement is understandably stressful whenever it occurs. However, some evidence suggests, stress is the most immense and most enduring, for parents who experience the death of a child.
It's an experience hard to fathom and grieving is difficult but important. Parents living with unresolved grief are at increased risk of long-term physical and mental health problems.
What does it feel like to lose a child?
Kaitlin Cox is a therapist at Heart of Texas Region MHMR clinic in Waco and she helps people who lost loved ones every day.
"It can truly feel like your world has ended," Cox said."People start to imagine how do I continue? How do I have a life if this person is not going to be in it anymore?"
Discovering those answers means confronting the fear, the shock and the pain of losing a child in a journey that may seem never-ending.
"I mean, I'm a big proponent of therapy and I think a lot of times when you have a memento of somebody, you know, a necklace or a piece of furniture or a Bible or a book or something that's important to you, that was important to the person you've lost. Those kinds of things can help you feel connected to the person after they're gone."
"It doesn't feel like this forever," Cox explained. "The pain you're feeling now isn't permanent and it feels impossible but it gets more possible."
Meet Dominic and Amanda Genduso. This year they're in uncharted waters as business owners of a food truck they opened in July.
"What really kind of inspired us to do it was my son and it's actually named after him," Dominic said. "His name was Dominic as well, but we named it Nico's Out of Texas because that was his nickname."
In 2017 their lives changed forever when their son Dominic passed away at the age of 24.
"You don't really get through it," Dominic explains. "There are, you know, good days and bad days."
It's a painful memory that's made bearable by remembering the life of their loving son.
"One of the last things I remember is he had asked me for a recipe to make a cheesecake and he would always cook with me and be by my side at the bar-b-q," Dominic said.
"I got to meet Nico when he was four, so I was a bonus mom," Amanda explained. "Which was fun and exciting and challenging. He was just such a great kid. He just had a lot of energy and he loved to cook, he loved to love to eat."
The Gendusos are still healing and say they miss their son every day.
"If he could walk up here and be here right now, I think he'd be blown away. He'd be so proud of his dad," Amanda said holding back tears.
Their story is a reminder of hope, even when facing unimaginable loss.
"I'd say that if anybody that has ever gone through losing a child," Dominic explained. "There is hope, there is inspiration, and you can continue living life."