When a child loses his parents, he is referred to as an orphan.

If a woman loses her husband, she is considered a widow.

But if a parent loses their child, what do we call them? Childless? Childless doesn't make much sense, as if the parents never had children to begin with.

  • If they are left childless as a result of a child's death, it would be "tragically childless" or "mortally childless".
    – jxh
    Commented Aug 26, 2014 at 3:02

2 Answers 2


I don't know of a specific word for this situation, but bereaved parents fits. To bereave means to suffer a profound loss, especially through the death of a loved one. Associating the word with "parent" will indicate the loss of a child.


If it is an only child we can use the word shidu (or shidu parents) which has been recently introduced into English from Chinese.

Wikipedia explains:

Shidu (失独) is a phenomenon denoting the loss of a parent's only child. The parents who have lost their only child are known as shidu fumu in China.

This might be a bit more specific than what you're looking for but can't hurt to consider.

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