I will agree those stats might need validation, as I had thought along the lines of Seana's comment.
Certainly in waring times men tended to die younger. This could be medieval times, or during the more recent wars (during any century). Today I think the statistics would say many less deaths occur to wars and accidents than in the past. Wars and accidents tend to kill less discriminantly to age (or maybe more at younger ages, say 15-35).
Living in Canada without a high percent of the population exposed to this sort of risk, I think it is more unexpected to die before ones children. Add to that the shrinking size of typical families (aside from the Duggars) and thus losing a child today probably hurts even more than historically (if that is possible).
I can think of a few situations of people who I have known who have buried children.
- One was a 85-90 year old couple whose 65 yr old son died due to a sudden illness. There was another brother, but this brother was eldest and probably visited the most. Even at that age the couple really struggled (especially the father, who died a few months later. Old age or sorrow?)
- A second was a 70ish couple who 46 yr old son died. This was again a fairly short illness following a heart attack. He was middle child (of 3) and eldest son. This couple struggled also, but decided to take out their anger on their son's spouse for making his life stressful. Weird.
- The last was a heart breaker. The mother (40ish) had been trying for years to get pregnant (and spending mucho $$) and finally got pregnant. Of course, with twins. They she went into labour, at about 20 weeks. Yikes. They were able to keep the babies in for a while, but they both came out way too early. One died and the other (miraculously) survived. Devastated mother, but at least she got to keep one. I can't imagine how she would have been if both had died.
As a parent, this is a tough topic!