The Most Important Things Parents Can Do After Losing a Child, According to This Therapist

The death of 20-year-old Disney star Cameron Boyce left his parents to deal with their grief, a reminder of the heavy weight parents carry after losing a child.

Cameron Boyce’s parents opened up on “The Doctors” about their son’s sudden death last summer, saying it was “a nightmare,” a reminder of the heavy weight parents carry after losing a child.

The Disney star, 20, had epilepsy and was found dead after suffering a seizure in his California home in July. It was a complete shock to his family as he’d only had a few seizures in his life. 

“In the morning, I get a call from his roommate and then he told me,” said Cameron’s dad, Victor Boyce.  “It was like all of a sudden I was in a cloud. ... Everything just went white.”

Boyce said that he later had a hard time believing the news was true. “I’m not supposed to outlive my son," he said during the episode.

The family has started the Cameron Boyce Foundation to honor the young star. The organization gives young people creative outlets to support causes that Cameron was passionate about, like gun violence prevention and access to clean water.

“This is not something you get better from,” his mother, Libby Boyce, said of Cameron's death. “This is something that you learn to live with.”

For parents, losing a child can cause them to go through a range of emotions, including: shock, denial, confusion, and loss of hope, among others.

Therapist Marline Francois-Madden, CEO of Hearts Empowerment Counseling Center, said grief will not be or look the same for every parent. Even married couples who lose a child will grieve differently. For many parents, though, one of the most important things they can do is “remove the guilt.”

“Some parents have the idea that if they would have done something differently, it wouldn’t have happened,” Francois-Madden told “They have to remove that parental guilt so they can process their grieving journey.”

She also recommended that parents invest in their self-care. In times of grief, Francois-Madden said it can be easy for parents to neglect their body and have trouble with sleeping and eating.

“They should have a support system around them because that support system can really help them maintain their self-care, and also have someone around you to comfort.”

Remembering happy memories can also help parents cope. Francois-Madden wants to emphasize to parents that it’s “OK to laugh you’re grieving.”

“As a parent you don’t expect to bury your child, when it happens unexpectedly you are going through a wave of emotions. It’s not an easy process,” she added.