Life After Loss

  1. China's family planning policy, introduced in June of 1979, restricts urban couples from having more than one child. Through 2011, according to the government, it had prevented some 400 million childbirths. But it also left bereft mothers and fathers who lost their only child to illness or an accident -- and were too old to conceive again.

    Parents who have lost their only child are known in China as shidu families. This disadvantaged and marginalized group numbers about a million and grow by 76,000 each year. This video series will present the challenges they face, such as their problems with finances, physical and mental health care, as well as struggles with government policies. These parents talk candidly about their stories and the efforts they've made to improve their lives.

    Director / Sun Peng
    Producer / Flora Yue

    失独者,他们是30年前第一批履行计划生育政策的父母,响应国家号召,义无反顾。而今,他们在年老之时失去正值壮年的唯一后代,难以再度生养,从此生活在孤独和思念之中,老无所依。极不明朗的养老前景、伴随余生的丧子之痛都使失独群体成为整个社会的弱势和孤立所在。30年来,计划生育政策减少了4亿出生人口的同时,也间接造成了百万余家庭陷入失独境地,并以每年7.6万个家庭的速度增长。
    这里讲述的是失独者的故事——是他们不为人知的孤苦生活,是难以抚平的心灵创伤,是面对现实的真切诉求。这是失独者的声音,是平静的倾诉,也是抗争的呐喊。
    中国日报记者深入失独者群体,倾听他们诉说不为人知的神伤往事,和他们一起在黑暗中抱团取暖,争取变革与希望。

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  2. In 1984, Zhang Tiejun, now 61, gave birth to a son. During the 1980s, the family planning policy was strictly enforced, so she didn't think to defy the law and have another child. In 2005, her son, then a college sophomore, died of a heart problem. This turned her life upside down.

    China's family planning policy has limited young parents in many ways. When couples had their first baby, their employers would threaten to fire them if they had another. Most of them obeyed; they followed the government's orders and took on the risk of becoming childless in the future.

    Three decades after the policy was implemented, millions of couples have lost their only child. Some 200 million more face that risk. How can these families be compensated for their loss? How do they manage the risk of losing their only child? People are closely following recent changes to the country's family planning policy.

    Director / Sun Peng
    Producer / Flora Yue

    61岁的张铁军在1984年生育了她唯一的儿子。在计划生育政策执行最为严格的80年代,张铁军并没有考虑违反政策要第二个孩子的可能。2005年,正在读大学二年级的儿子因心肌炎猝死在家中,张铁军的生活从此改变。

    在上世纪的中国,计划生育对于年轻父母的制约存在于方方面面,生育一胎之后的家庭会受到供职单位的监督,多数人不愿因为超生而失去稳定的工作;他们选择服从国家意志,承担了未来失独的风险。

    计划生育实行30年之后,出现的失独家庭数目超过百万,并有两亿家庭面临此类风险。对于已经失独的家庭如何做出补偿,如何控制独生子女带来的人口风险,计划生育政策在新时期的变革与延续,成为关注的焦点。

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  3. Fifty-year-old Zheng Wei is a retired English teacher living in Beijing's Dongcheng district. She and her husband experienced the Great Chinese Famine and living among the peasants during the "cultural revolution" (1966-76). Their 20s were difficult. In 1973, Zheng and her husband Ren Yongmao had their first and only child.

    In 1999, their son was diagnosed with malignant lymphoma. The couple tried everything to find a cure, but faced extreme financial difficulties. The young man died in 2002. Zheng and Ren had envisioned old age with their son, but their dreams were crushed.

    Millions of parents who have lost their only child grew up during the 10-year "cultural revolution". This turbulent period left them spending their teens or 20s without much purpose, so they wanted their children to experience life to the fullest. Losing their children has left many of them in despair.

    Director / Sun Peng
    Producer / Flora Yue

    59岁的郑维是一位退休英语教师,家住北京东城区。她和丈夫任永茂经历了上世纪60年代三年自然灾害和文革中的上山下乡,在艰苦的生存环境和社会境遇中走过了他们年轻的岁月。1973年,郑维夫妇在山西降生了他们唯一的儿子。

    1999年,郑维的儿子确诊恶性淋巴瘤,尝试各种治疗的努力并承受经济的压力之后,儿子于2002年去世。半生艰辛的郑维和任永茂本想在儿孙关怀下安度晚年,却终事与愿违。

    中国的百万余失独父母,多数人在上世纪六七十年代的文化大革命中度过了青年时期,人生蹉跎让他们把希望寄托在下一代身上,然而失独却再次让他们陷入深渊。

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  4. After a long battle, Sun Meng succumbed to stomach cancer. Fan Xi, her mother, had only one wish: to die in her sleep and meet her daughter in heaven.

    Among China's 220 million single children, data says that 10 million will not reach the age of 25. Remembering the death of one's only child is agonizing. Whether the child died of a disease or in an accident, the parents' hopes and dreams have forever been shattered.

    Like Fan Xi, there are countless parents who do not want to return to the happy past -- or face the bleak present. They cannot look at photographs or videos of their son or daughter and do not even want to erect a tombstone. The loss of their child has cast a shadow over the rest of their lives.

    Director / Sun Peng
    Producer / Flora Yue

    尽管经历了漫长的治疗过程,孙萌最终因胃癌离开了人世。她的母亲范玺此后唯一的愿望就是能在睡梦中平静结束自己的一生,见到天国的女儿。

    根据年龄段死亡率数据,在中国2.2亿独生子女当中,会有1000万在25岁之前死亡。回想独生子女离世的经过,对于所有失独的父母都是一种磨难。或因为疾病,或突发意外,他们带走的都是父母晚年生活的几乎全部。

    无数的失独者像范玺一样,不敢回忆孩子的过去,无法面对生活的变故。他们甚至不能直面孩子的影像,不愿为孩子立下墓碑。独生子女的离世,成为了他们终其一生的阴霾。

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  5. Born in 1979, Li Kewen majored in computer science at Peking University, one of the best universities in China. As a college junior, the brilliant young man founded his own company , which even attracted a foreign investor. Just as his career was about to take off, he died of a kidney disease in 2004 at age 24.

    For the first two years after Li's death, his mother Li A’di could not accept the loss and cried all day. She also had countless sleepless nights. Almost 10 years after Li's death, his parents still keep his room as he left it. A decade, the couple says, cannot dull the pain of losing a child. It is a nightmare that lasts forever.

    Parents who have lost their only child experience anguish that can border on mental illness. They feel empty and devoid of hope.

    Director / Sun Peng
    Producer / Flora Yue

    出生于1979年的李可文曾就读于北京大学计算机系——中国最顶尖的学府之一。才学出众的李可文曾在大三就创立的自己的企业,并获得国外项目投资。正在个人事业和家庭厚望逐步实现之时,2004年,年仅24岁的李可文被尿毒症夺去了生命。

    在此后的两年多时间,面对如此变故,李可文的母亲李阿弟终日以泪洗面,夜不能寐。直至今日,父母仍然保留着儿子居住的房间和原来的陈设。10年时间并不能减弱失去独子的痛苦;现实中儿子的离去,仍然是他们无法平息的梦魇。

    在失独家庭当中,每一对父母都承受着常人难以想象的痛苦。这些不为人知的经历,已经从思念和感伤,转变成深入和顽固的心理疾患。他们一天天远离了平和乐观的心态,取而代之的是对人生感到无望,对生活感到虚无。

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Life After Loss

Sun Peng

China's family-planning policy was first introduced in the late 1970s to rein in the surging population by limiting most urban couples to one child and most rural couples to two children, if the first child born was a girl. Through 2011, according to


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China's family-planning policy was first introduced in the late 1970s to rein in the surging population by limiting most urban couples to one child and most rural couples to two children, if the first child born was a girl. Through 2011, according to the government, it had prevented some 400 million childbirths. But it also left bereft mothers and fathers who lost their only child to illness or an accident -- and were too old to conceive again.

Parents who have lost their only child are known in China as "shidu" families. This disadvantaged and marginalized group numbers about a million and grows by 76,000 each year. This multimedia project presents the challenges they face, such as problems with finances, physical and mental health care, as well as struggles with government policies. These parents talk candidly about their stories and the efforts they've made to improve their lives.

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