Bereavement and Loss

Bereavement and Loss


The death of a baby is one of the most traumatic and painful experiences that parents and families can face. The emotion associated with the loss of a child can be overwhelming for both the immediate and extended families. We hope that this section provides some insight and advice for families rebuilding after the loss of a child.

TAKING CARE OF YOURSELF 
It is important to take care of yourselves as you grieve for your child. It is easy to neglect your own physical health. Try to eat healthily.
Ensure you stay active and endeavour to get out of the house at least once everyday ie go for a walk.
Where possible maintain the normal family routines.
Avoid alcohol and caffeine based beverages.
A womans body needs time to recover from a pregnancy. Depending on the gestation of the baby the mother's breasts may be producing milk or the mother may be bleeding for some time after the birth. Its important that any health issues are discussed with a health professional.

EXPRESSING YOUR FEELINGS
 
Its important to discuss your feelings and your sense of loss with your partner, family and friends.
Its good to talk about the baby.
Ask your doctor to recommend a grief counsellor.
Some hospitals have support groups consisting of families who have lost children.Enquire from your hospital if such a group exists.
Record your thoughts and feelings in a diary.
Make a memory box for your baby ie photographs, clothes, foot and hand prints, poems, toys.

ASK FOR HELP
Do not be afraid to ask for help. People do not know how to react when you have lost a child and may not know what you need.
Physically you may not be capable to carrying out the normal daily activities such as housework,shopping, taking other children to school or after school activities, making meals.Make a list of things you need done and hand the list to family and friends

Seeking Help
Feeling sad and overwhelmed at the death of an infant is a normal emotion. If however you feel that these feelings of sadness persist for a long time or are impeding you from leading a normal life please consult a health professional. The following are some indicators of depression:-

Lack of interest in activites , hobbies or daily routines
Feeling tired all the time
Losing or Gaining weight
Insomnia or sleeping too much
Lack of concentration or indecisivness
Thoughts of suicide or death

Families and Friends
Families and friends may not know how to behave around you or may not know what to say to you. It is entirely normal not to want people around you as you grieve but they too are affected by your loss and you can both support each other. Here are some suggestions how to deal with other people when you are grieving:

Tell people that their visits and telephone calls are important to you
Let them know that it is ok to ask you what happened
Its important to tell people that you want their support even if they dont know what to say to you.
Sometimes people make comments that are unhelpful but try to remember that they want to help but just dont know what to say.
Outline clearly to people what you need-if you want space to be alone ask for it and also alternatively if you want someone to listen to you ensure your wishes are met. Be specific.
Tell people its ok to mention the babies name.

Every persons grief is unique and there are no hard and fast rules governing how long a parent will grieve for. The basic rule is to accept that grief takes time and is fraught with good and bad days. Take as much time as is necessary to deal with the loss of your baby .As time passes you may feel that the support you got from family and friends in the early days lessens. This does not mean they dont care or have forgotten. You may need to remind them that you still require support and it is important to remember that no-one will think any less of you for asking for help.

HELPING SIBLINGS
Children of all ages can experience grief. It manifests itself in the form of acting out, looking for special attention or being afraid. Young children may blame themselves for the death of the baby or suddenly develop a fear of dying themselves. Siblings cope better with grief when they understand whats going on. Here are some suggestions how to assist siblings understand what has happend to the baby that was in mummys tummy. Be open and honest and discuss death with them. Use clear,simple and concise words and try not to confuse ie its ok to use terms like "the baby didnt grow","the baby was very tiny".Its best to avoid confusing sentences such as "Mummy lost the baby" or "the baby was born sleeping".
Many neonatal units will have books written for siblings experiencing grief.Ask your local unit if you can borrow one of the books and take some quiet time to read the book with your child.
Its important to encourage your children to ask questions and in response provide as much information as the child needs.
Behaviour changes,angry outburst, confusion,crankiness and clingyness are signs that your child is experiencing a grief reaction. Some children may adopt behaviours of younger children ie wanting pacifiers, waking at night, wetting themselves. It is important to make the child feel secure and to alleviate worries that they may die.
Tell them that no-one is to blame for the child dying.Involve the child in remembering his/her brother or sister by placing an item in the keepsake box or by planting a tree in a special corner of the garden.
Some children may benefit from some sessions with a counsellor .Inform teachers of the circumstances so that they can observe any changes in the childs behaviour and so that they can support your child through this difficult time.

REMEMBERING YOUR BABY
When you and your family are ready it is important that you remember the baby in ways that are special. Whether you had a chance to see your baby, hold your baby or give him/her a name there are many ways in which you can celebrate his/her life:

Light a candle
Write a poem
Paint a picture
Plant a tree
Create a small garden
Initiate a project in your babies memory ie fundraising for a local charity or your neonatal unit or to improve services for families who have lost children 

Where to find support ?


Sadly , every year over 500 babies die in Ireland. The following are some organisations that specialise in supporting and helping bereaved parents and families, with these organisation you don't have to feel alone, many of these organisations are set up by bereaved parents so they fully understand what you are going through.

www.feileacain.ie

Feileacain was set up in 2010 by bereaved parents to reach out to others and provide a service to families in need. Feileacain is a stillbirth and neonatal death assocation of Ireland. Feileacain hold meetings, offer support to parents and have many ways for remembering. You can contact them on their helpline just to talk or get practical help. They have a very active Facebook page and a detailed website.

Contact details :Tel : 085 2496464       
Email info@feileacain.ie


www.isands.ie

A little lifetime foundation formally known as isands is an Irish stillbirth & neonatal death society provides support & information to parents whose babies pass away around the time of birth. A little lifetime foundation has been in existence since 1983. Their website contacts loads of relevant information for people, they offer many services for people and have a discussion forum for people to talk to each other.

Contact details :Tel : 01-8726996
Email : info@alittlelifetime.ie


www.barnardos.ie

Barnardos provide bereavement counselling for children who have lost a sibling. They have 2 centres, one in Dublin and Cork that specialise in bereavement counselling for children.

Contact details:Tel: 01 473 2110 (Helpline)
Email : bereavement@barnardos.ie- 453 0355 ( Dublin Contact details)
Email: bereavement@cork.barnardos.ie 021 431 0591 ( Cork Contact details)


www.anacara.ie

Anacara is a national support group set up by bereaved parents. It offers help and support for bereaved parents and siblings. Anacara supports families who have lost a child of any age. They provide information, services and run a number of events throughout the year. You can find Anacara on twitter, facebook and they have a detailed website.

Contact details:Tel: 4045 378 and mobile at  085-2888888       
Email :info@anamcara.ie


www.miscarriage.ie

The miscarriage assocation was set up in 1988. The association provides support and help to parents and families affected by miscarriage. They run meetings, support groups, and remembering services. They have a book of remembrance, which is an unofficial register for little babies who were lost through miscarriage. The website has plenty of useful information.

Contact details:Tel: 01-8735702- Please check their website to check for individual support, its gives different times and dates of who to ring.
Email: info@miscarriage.ie 

POEMS

We have a number of poems written by people who have suffered the same tragic loss of a baby. We appreciate the permission given to share these poems with parents reading this section.

If Tears Could Build A Stairway Author Unkown

If tears could build a stairway,
And memories were a lane,
We would walk right up to heaven
To bring you down again.

No farewell words were spoken,
No time to say good-bye.
You were gone before we knew it,
And only God knows why.

Our hearts still ache in sadness
And secret tears still flow,
What it meant to lose you,
No one will ever know.

When we are sad and lonely,
And everything goes wrong,
We seem to hear you whisper
"Cheer up and carry on."

Each time we look at your pictures,
You seem to smile and say,
"Don't cry, I'm only sleeping,
We'll meet again someday."

-------------------------------
For Such A Little While Helen Steiner Rice

God gave you your daughter
For such a little while;
He put a bit of heaven
In the sunshine of her smile

He took dust from the brightest twinkling stars
And made her sparkling eyes;
And now, she's gone back home to God,
To play up in the skies.

And though she left so quickly
That you hearts are grieved and sad,
We know she lives with God
And her small heart is glad.

And though your precious darling
Was just a rosebud small;
She'll bloom in all her beauty
On the other side of the wall.

---------------------------------
Remembering by Elizabeth Dent

Go ahead and mention my child,
The one who died, you know.
Don't worry about hurting me further.
The depth of my pain doesn't show.

Don't worry about making me cry.
I'm already crying inside.
Help me to heal by releasing,
The tears that I try to hide.

I'm hurt when you keep silent,
Pretending she didn't exist.
I'd rather you mention my child,
Knowing that she has been missed.

You ask me how I was doing.
I say "pretty good" or "fine."
But healing is something ongoing.
I feel it will take a lifetime.

----------------------------------
Only The Best by Author Unknown

A heart of gold stopped beating,
Two shining eyes at rest.
God broke our hearts to prove
He only takes the best.

God knows you had to leave us,
But you did not go alone~
For part of us went with you,
The day he took you Home.

To some you are forgotten,
To others just the past.
But to us who loved and lost you,
Your memory will always last.

---------------------------------------
Tiny Angel by Author Unkown

Tiny Angel rest your wings
Sit with me awhile.
How I long to hold your hand,
And see your tender smile.

Tiny Angel, look at me,
I want this image clear....
That I will forget your precious face
Is my biggest fear.

Tiny Angel can you tell me,
Why you have gone away?
You weren't here for very long...
Why is it you couldn't stay?

Tiny Angel shook his head,
"These things I do not know...
But I do know you loved me,
And that I loved you so."

-----------------------------------------
Broken Chain by Author Unknown

We little knew that day
God was going to call your name
In life we loved you dearly
In death,we do the same

It broke our hearts to lose you
You did not go alone
for part of us went with you,
the day God called you home

You left us beautiful memories,
your love is still our guide
and though we cannot see you,
you are always at our side

Our family chain is broken,
and nothing seems the same,
but as God calls us one by one,
The chain will link again

-------------------------------------
Angels Are Hard to Find by Author Unknown

When God calls little children
To dwell with him above,
We mortals sometime question
The wisdom of His love.

Perhaps God tires of calling
The aged to His fold,
So He picks a rosebud
Before it can grow old.

God knows how much we need them,
And so He takes but few
To make the land of Heaven'
More beautiful to view.

Believing this is difficult
Still somehow we must try,
The saddest word mankind knows
Will always be 'Good-bye'.

So when a little child departs,
We who are left behind
Must realize God loves children, and
ANGELS ARE HARD TO FIND.

------------------------------------------
A Child of Mine by Edgar Guest

I will lend you for a little time,
A special child of mine, He said
For you to love the while she lives,
And mourn for when she's dead.

It may be six or seven years,
Or twenty-two or three.
But will you, till I call her back,
Take care of her for Me?

She'll bring her charms to gladden you,
And should her stay be brief.
You'll have her precious memories,
As solace for your grief.

I cannot promise she will stay,
Since all from earth return.
But there are lessons taught down there,
I want this child to learn.

I've looked the wide world over,
In search for teachers true.
And from the throngs that crowd life's lanes,
I have selected you.

Now will you give her all your love,
Nor think the labor vain,
Nor hate me when I come to call,
To take her home again?

I fancied that I heard them say,
"Dear Lord, Thy will be done!
For all the Joy Thy child shall bring,
The risk of grief we'll run.

We'll shelter her with tenderness,
We'll love her while we may,
And for the happiness we'll know,
Forever grateful stay.

But should the angels call for her,
Much sooner than we've planned.
We'll brave the bitter grief that comes,
And try to understand."

--------------------------------------------
Death of a Child by Sandy Eakle


Sorry I didn't get to stay. 
To laugh and run and play. 
To be there by your side. 
I'm sorry that I had to die.

God sent me down to be with you, 
to make your loving heart anew. 
To help you look up and see 
Both God and little me.

Mommy, I wish I could stay. 
Just like I heard you pray. 
But, all the angels did cry 
when they told little me goodbye.

God didn't take me cause He's mad. 
He didn't send me to make you sad. 
But to give us both a chance to be 
a love so precious .. don't you see?

Up here no trouble do I see 
and the pretty angels sing to me. 
The streets of gold is where I play 
you'll come here too, mommy, someday.

Until the day you join me here, 
I'll love you mommy, dear. 
Each breeze you feel and see, 
brings love and a kiss from me.

----------------------------------
Letter to Mom by Joy Curnutt

Mom, please don’t feel guilty
It was just my time to go.
I see you are still feeling sad,
And the tears just seem to flow.

We all come to earth for our lifetime,
And for some it’s not many years
I don’t want you to keep crying
You are shedding so many tears.

I haven’t really left you
Even though it may seem so.
I have just gone to my heavenly home,
And I’m closer to you than you know.

Just believe that when you say my name
I’m standing next to you,
I know you long to see me,
But there’s nothing I can do.

But I’ll still send you messages
And hope you understand,
That when your time comes to “cross over,”
I’ll be there to take your hand.

-----------------------------------
Unknown

"Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints upon the snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush, of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft star that shines at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there, I did not die."

----------------------------------------
Unknow

And like a single drop of rain
That on still waters fall,
Her life did ripples make
And touched the lives of all.
She's gone to play with angels
In heaven up above
So keep your special memories
And treasure. them with love
She was so very, very special
And was so from the start
You held her in your arms
But mainly in your heart
With a sweet remembered smile
He'll (She'll) live on in your heart
Was with you just a while
Although your darling son, daughter, grandchild

-------------------------------------------
Unknown

Time has taken me from you,
Although not very far.
I'll be watching through the sunshine
And through the brightest star.

I'll be watching all of you,
From the heavens up above.
So take good care of each other
And carry all my love.

If you're ever wondering
If I'm there, here's where you can start.
Take a look inside yourself
Deep within your heart.

I'll always be your baby,
Your child, your best friend.
So anytime you need me,
Close your eyes I'm back again.

----------------------------------------
Unknown

The world may never notice
If a Snowdrop doesn't bloom,
Or even pause to wonder
If the petals fall too soon.

But every life that ever forms,
Or ever comes to be,
Touches the world in some small way
For all eternity.

The little one we long for
Was swiftly here and gone.
But the love that was then planted
Is a light that still shines on.

And though our arms are empty,
Our hearts know what to do.
Every beating of our hearts
Says that we do love you.

-------------------------------------
Budded on Earth to Bloom in Heaven by Jennifer Duchesne


Please don't ask me to understand
That's impossible, I don't think I can
You were both made out of precious love
Then you were sent straight above
Your little spirits are not alone, so don't fear
Sara and Raymond, you're together, my dears
My heart will always hold a special place for you
So does another, your Daddy, that's who
I cry tears of pain because you're not here
I used to dream of that day I could hold you near
You both would've loved your sister so
It hurt so much to hear you had to go
You'll both forever be a part of me
You are all my children, Sara, Raymond, and Baylee
No more worries, my angels are safe in Heaven
But that doesn't keep me from wondering how things could've been
The only thing I wish you both knew
That is, from the bottom of my heart... I Love You!
With all my love, Mammy

---------------------------------------
I'm a Big Brother by Denise Phillips

I’m a big brother
Oh, can’t you see?
My baby brother
Looked a lot like me.
He had ten little fingers
And ten little toes,
And even a cute little button nose.
The hairs on his head were the same colour as mine,
He lay there sleeping peacefully as if everything was fine.
My little brother wasn’t able to stay,
An angel took him to heaven straight away.
My mom and my dad cried an awful lot,
And friends and family gathered at the spot,
Where my baby brother was buried that day.
He was born late in April,
But buried in May.

He was truly wanted
It was quite a shock.
I wanted my baby brother
A whole heck of a lot.
My friends just don’t get it
They don’t understand
The pain in my heart
When I held him in my hands.

My little brother Trenton was already gone.
I wouldn’t get to play catch on the lawn.
or do the other things that big brothers do.
I’m terribly sad about all of this too.

But please don’t tell me I’m not a big brother.
I have a little brother that’s not like any other.
He’s in heaven with Jesus and I hope that he’ll say.
I’m a big brother too one day.
But try to remember as you see me each day,
My baby brother is simply far away.

----------------------------------------
Mommy & Daddy's Little Angel by your dad

I thought long and hard as to what I wanted to say,
Not a day goes by, that I wish you were here to stay,
Your Mom and I were anxious for you to look into our eyes,
But all we could really see was the silence of your cries.
It hasn't been an easy task to watch you go away,
Although heaven sent us an angel, now in God's hands you must lay
The little time we had with you we will cherish everyday
Oh Keller Evan, our son, our boy, we pray
Now it's time to say goodbye, the part we do not like
But in our hearts, our minds and our souls,
Our angel will sleep tonight

-----------------------------------
Mother of a Still Born by Kelly Moore

Although my child’s spirit was not in her body when she was born
My beautiful child still was born
Still was born into a loving family 
Still was born into the hearts of many
Still was born into the kingdom of God
Don’t shed any tears for me, her mother, unless they are tears of joy, I am happy
My gain completely outweighs any loss I am feeling
I have gained a beautiful daughter named Jaden whose spirit is alive and well
Any loss I have is that of hopes, dreams, and expectations of this world
All of which are of my mind and are not tangible
Unlike the very real daughter I have In heaven, my fourth child
Someone told me that God operates in the present, not the past or future and what is real is in the present
When I feel my empty womb I do not think about what could have been on earth 
but of what is already in heaven
The time we will be apart will be like the blink of an eye compared to the eternity we will spend together in heaven and eventually on the “new earth” again
So when you think of me or Jaden, rejoice! We are rejoicing
Jaden will never know hurt or sorrow or sin 
Her purpose on earth was completed while still in my womb
I do not feel like my child’s life was stolen from me by disease or by Satan
I do not feel like my hopes and dreams are shattered but that they are fulfilled, just in a different way
My hopes and dreams for the future are held in our eternity together 
Her life is complete, God says …“it is finished”

---------------------------------
My Angel by Corrina Heatley

How can I explain it its like
We were meant to be
You came to me unexpectedly
and left the same way
My life is in a stand still
and I can't figure it out

I had so many plans for you
That will be gone forever
Your first step
Your first day at school

How could some one take you from me
My angel is gone from me

I miss you so much
Your laugh made life so great
How life will go on
I will never figure out

I have so many questions
And no way to get an answer
you made me see the light

You changed me
The day I seen your face
That picture will be
engraved in my heart always

The Four months we had together
were the best I could ever have
I couldn’t ask for nothing more
than to see your smile
To hear you laugh

Although it will be
hard I have to go on
To live life in your honour
To never back down

Life will never be the same
and I could never forget
That with it was so simple
Some thing nothing could replace

I will always have the memories
And you will always be in my dreams

So today I will light a candle
And look to the sky
For my angel is in heaven
watching me with a smile.

----------------------------------------
My Little One by Louisa Peachey

Some say you are the wind,
Some say you fly at night,
But I know the truth,
God holds on to you real tight.

Some say your in the water,
Some say your in the sun,
But I know where you are,
You are safe my little one.

Some say you are a butterfly,
Some say you are our peace,
But I know you are just resting,
You wait from death to be released.

I know one day you'll read this,
Maybe understand my pain,
See I want you back inside me,
So I can do my job again.

I believe God will do this for us,
Join us, back together we'll be,
Then you'll be my butterfly,
As you grow, just wait and see.

Then together we will look,
Out at the mountains and the trees,
You'll hold my hand and whisper,
Mum that's where I've always been.

You'll mean you were my spirit,
Your what kept me going and strong,
You'll mean you were the reason,
Why this life must go on.

Your Silent Dreams by April D. Parker

...I held you as you were sleeping...
...All the while I sat weeping....
...Gazing at your beautiful features...
...For you were one of God's Creatures...

...I Loved you from the minute you existed to be...
...Living inside me, Dreaming silently...
...You were always a part of my life...
...Even before you saw day-light...

...Looking down at you, I kissed your warm little hand...
...Knowing you had passed on to the Promised Land...
...You my sweet baby are forever my Child...
...The Fact you were in my life makes it worth while...

...Undeniably your death has given me a gift…
...The thought of seeing you again and my spirit lifts…
...I Thank God To Have had what time I had with you…
...Love and cherish you I shall always do…

-----------------------------------
Eternity by Author Unknown

I know you're feeling sad today
Because I had to go
I know you have so many things
That remind you of me so

And though you cry as you recall
The times you spent with me
I know your pain would turn to joy
If only you could see

I'm in Heaven with Jesus now
We laugh, we sing, we play
He holds me gently in His arms
I have no pain today

And though we're apart a little while
Jesus has said to me
He will someday bring you here
Where we'll live for eternity

----------------------------------------
The Cord by Author Unknown

We are connected,
My child and I,
By an invisible cord,
Not seen by the eye.

It's not like the cord
That connects us 'til birth
This cord can't be seen
By any on earth.

This cord does its work
Right from the start.
It binds us together
Attached to my heart.

I know that it's there
Though no one can see
The invisible cord
From my child to me.
The strength of this cord
Man could create
It withstands the test
Can hold any weight.

And though you are gone,
Though you're not here with me,
The cord is still there
But no one can see.

It pulls at my heart
I am bruised…. I am sore,
But this cord is my lifeline
As never before.

I am thankful that God
Connects us this way
A mother and child 

Grandparents


The two articles written below are from a bereaved mother and grandmother. We hope you find them useful.

Message for bereaved grandparents- part 1
Message for bereaved grandparents-part 2

The Grief of Grandparents

The grandparent-grandchild relationship is a very special one. When a grandchild dies, the grief of grandparents is complicated because not only do they mourn for their grandchild, but they also feel the helplessness of not being able to remove the pain felt so intensely by the parents of their grandchild, one of whom is their own child. Both parents and grandparents have lost a part of their future, hopes and dreams.

Grief Is Individual
Like the parents of the deceased child, grandparents often grieve differently from each other, and this difference can create difficulties in their relationship. There is no right or wrong way for grandparents to grieve. Maintaining communication with each other is critical. Being aware of what to expect during grief may help bereaved grandparents as they grieve, as they try to understand their child’s grief, and as the healing process commences.

THE ELEMENTS OF GRIEF

Denial
When a grandchild dies, most grandparents feel a protective numbness in the beginning. There minds may deny that the sad event has transpired,they may "see" the child somewhere only to realise that they are mistaken or they may talk about the child as if he/she were still alive. Denial of the death is perfectly normal. As the denial disappears they will realise that they are vulnerable to loss .

Anger
Hurt and frustration can replace denial. This can materialise in anger directed inward and toward others. It may be directed towards their spouse or even on the dead child. They may even feel anger towards the parents of the child.Oftentimes they will feel angry with themselves for their inability to control the outcome of their grandchilds situation. 

Guilt
Guilt, whether real or imagined, is always there, with the recurring “What if . . . ?” and “Why didn’t I . . . ?” 
The fear of losing their own child or another grandchild can often influence the way the grandparents demonstrate affection following the death of a grandchilid. The emotion of guilt is linked with the belief that young people should not die as it goes against the natural order of the world.

Depression
Some element of depression is a normal part of the grieving process. Yet it can be so overwhelming to bereaved grandparents that they fear that they are experiencing a more serious health issue. There is the added worry about the mental health of their grieving child. Any thoughts of suicide or of self harm are indicative of very intense grief and medical help should always be sought.

Time Is a Slow Healer
Time itself does not have healing properties but how time is used plays a vital role in the healing process. Talking with other families who have experienced a similar loss can be beneficial. Much has been written about the subject and grandparents can assist their own children in their grief journey by reading books on the subject. There are many organisations who specifically support families who have lost children.

Grief Work
Its important to acknowledge the need to cry as part of the grieving process. It is normal to fell tearful and it is very important that you do not suppress this emotion.

Resolution and Reorganization
Perhaps one of the most troubling aspects of grief is the question that grandparents continually face: “Why?” Friends may offer comfort with answers but for the bereaved, no satisfactory answer will ever exist. In realtiy grandparents must finally accept the unacceptable. This does not mean that they understand why their beloved grandchild was taken from them or that they are forgetting the dead grandchild. So often bereaved grandparents and parents are told that they “must get back to normal.” But what is now normal for them will never be the same as it was before the child’s death. Life in the absence of their grandchild must go on, and as healing occurs, it will .

Holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries, including the anniversary of the child’s death, may be stressful times. Allow yourself the time and space for your own emotional needs. Life altering experiences such as a death of a loved one oftentimes created an enhanced sense of appreciation for those family members who are still alive. Tragedy can make us more compassionate human beings with a greater understanding of others who experience similiar tragedies in their lives.

Love Remains as Healing Occurs
Grief is the price we pay for loving. Grandparents love both the grandchild who has passed away and their own children,the grieving parents. As grandparents grieve and try to understand and support the parents, healing will take place. The scars of losing a grandchild will never disappear but over time memories of happier times will take the place of the saddness and lonliness.



With all my love, Grandma by By Nana, the grandmother of Doug & Sherri Scherf’s Baby Boy

Little baby, little baby,
God has taken you away.
Oh, how empty are our hearts now,
gone our hopes in just one day.

You were planned for, loved and hoped for,
Long before we felt you move.
All our dreams are crushed in grief now,
By the loss of our baby love.

Little Angel, little Angel,
You have gone to be with God.
And our hope is that we’ll see you,
Someday on the other side.

Did we dream that this could happen?
Or that you would go away,
Taking all our treasured dreams of
holding you Thanksgiving Day.

And the day was in October,
When you had to go away.
And our hearts feel like they’re breaking,
For our son who’s gone today.

Baby boy, oh baby boy,
Mom and Dad want you to know,
That the sadness that we’re feeling
Starts our tears to overflow.

But that grief has strengthened our love,
For each other and for you.
And our faith and love are deepened,
For the God who loves you too.

Little son, oh little son,
Visions of what might have been,
Flood my heart and I can see,
A tall young man of 23.

Strong, courageous, handsome, wise,
The very pride of his father’s eyes.
Deeply saddened as I see,
These dreams of you can never be.

For the day was in October,
When you had to go away.
And our hearts feel like they’re breaking
For our boy who’s gone away.

Little Rosebud, little Rosebud,
You were meant to bloom with God.
The fairest rose in heaven’s bouquet,
Lest on earth you’d have to trod.

Chosen one October morning,
Angels carried you away,
to a life of love and beauty,
happy for eternity.

But our hearts feel like they’re breaking,
Our baby son has gone away.
For it was in mid-October,
God plucked you for his bouquet.



When a Grandchild Dies-Courtesy of the hope Bereaved handbook

No one expects to outlive their own children, much less experience the loss of a much-loved, much-wanted grandchild. It is so difficult to raise a family, see your children do the same and see the cycle broken in this out-of-order way. No one is prepared for the grief that follows. As a grandparent, you have a double grief. You grieve for your grandchild who has died, as well as for your own child who is now a bereaved parent. You not only feel your own pain and sadness, but also feel helpless and frustrated at not being able to help your bereaved child.

It helps to remember that there is no timetable for grief. Don’t expect too much of your child, his or her spouse or of yourself. At first, no one believes it. When the reality “hits” everyone feels even more
devastated. It is important to consider your needs as well as those of your bereaved child. Acknowledging and working on your grief will help you and, indirectly, your grieving child.
Don’t be surprised if at first you can’t reach out to your grieving child. Remember that you are grieving. Be patient with yourself. Eventually you may be able to talk, listen and help. If you find that you can’t help specifically with the grief you can send cards, tell them that you love them, etc. Explain that you wish that you could be of more help but that you don’t know what to do.

Suggestions for Helping Yourself and Your Grieving Child (the Parents)

• Read about grief. It is important to understand what you and your child are experiencing.

• It helps to be open and share your feelings. Your openness sets a good example for your child.

. Share the good memories and the good days as well as the pain of grief and the bad days.

• Talk about your dead grandchild. Mention his or her name.

• Find someone with whom you can talk freely — a friend, support group member, clergy or counselor.

• Be available to LISTEN frequently to your child. Respect your child’s way of handling the pain and
expressing the grief. Don’t tell your child how he or she should react.

• At special times (anniversary of death, holidays) write and/or call your bereaved child. Mention that
you realize what day it is. You are calling to say you love them and you wish that you could take
some of their pain away.

• When adults are grieving, the child’s siblings often feel neglected — plus they don’t understand the
grief that they themselves are experiencing. Try to spend extra time with your other bereaved
grandchildren, offering to listen and reminding them that they are very important and much loved.

• If possible, offer to take surviving grandchildren for an afternoon or a day; help with practical
matters, such as preparing food, doing laundry, shopping; spend time alone with your child.

• Most of us need hugs, even if we don’t recognize that we do. It helps to hug and hold your child if
you both are comfortable doing so.

• Allow yourself and encourage your child to cry when needed. Crying offers relief.

• Let the family know that you care; that you love them.

• Hold on to HOPE that eventually you all will enjoy life again. Offer HOPE to your grieving child
and family. 

SIBLINGS


Brothers and sisters, may be affected deeply by the death of a baby in the family. Children should be told as much as they are able to understand and is age appropriate. The adults in the family should be open to expressing their thoughts and feelings. This openness will enable the children to express how they feel and to ask questions about the death. Young Children who are too young for explanations need only to be shown love and affection by their parents. They may have some frightening g thoughts that they cannot express. Did I cause the baby to die? Will I die too? Will Mommy and Daddy die? Am I still a big sister or brother? Who will take care of me now? They may cling to their parents and do other things to get attention. It is most important for them to know that they are loved and secure.

Older brothers and sisters experience grief in different ways and can vary depending on their past experiences and on their ages. Sometimes they may feel guilty, they made be very sad or may appear not to exhibit any feelings. Lines of communication about the death should be kept open for years because a child’s questions and ability to understand change as they develop. They will need more complete information over time. Often times children are a source of strength for their families. They have written poetry and often exhibit simple, unshakable faith about the pattern of life and death. Some children, on the other hand, because of circumstances of age or emotional makeup, have felt terrible insecurity after the death of a baby. This loss of security can manifest itself as nightmares, bedwetting, difficulty in school and other disturbances. Any such problems should be discussed with the child’s doctor. Other bereaved parents can also offer practical tips and reassurance.

WHEN A SIBLING DIES ( For older children)

The emotions associated with the death of a sibling may be the same as or completely different than those of other family members.

But remember:

-Your grief is your own, not theirs.
-Your grief will be different because of the unique relationship you had with your brother or sister.
-The way you choose to express your grief is just as important as long as it is not destructive-should you feel that you are not in control always talk to someone.

Many of lifes experiences can make us feel hyper, on edge or depressed and the grieving process is very similiar but it may take longer to work through the different stages of the process.

You may experience:

-Sleep disturbances;
-Fatigue or inability to relax;
-Anger toward yourself, other people, God, even the one who died;
-Fear for your safety and the safety of those close to you;
-Feelings of lonliness as parents may be distant, angry and inattentive;
-Difficulty concentrating;
- Mood swings 
-Guilt that you are alive and your sibling is not;

Oftentimes its difficult to discuss emotions with parents and the death of a sibling can create an ever wider divide between parent and child as the child may fear upsetting his/her parents even further. Try to talk about your feelings with a friend or relative

It’s okay:

*To cry and feel depressed. You’ve lost a family member. If the feelings get too scary or overwhelming talk to a friend , family member, teacher.

*To live “in the past” for a while. 

*To have fun and enjoy life, to laugh again.

*To go on living.

THINGS TO AVOID

Overuse of alcohol or drug taking

Skipping school

Reckless behaviour

Bottling up your feelings

Discontinuing hobbies that once would have interested you.

Grieving takes alot of energy so be prepared to feel far more tired than what you are used to. People find various outlets to express their grief ie keeping a journal, writing poetry, composing music or painting.

Tell people how you are feeling and be patient with close family members-every persons grief is unique.


"Grief of Children" courtesy of the candle

Explaining death to a child can be a very difficult, sensitive and painful process. This task becomes even more difficult and painful and demands more sensitivity when the parents, relatives,
teachers or caretakers are grieving themselves. However, in a time of crisis such as this, adults must function as “role models and helpers to the bereaved children in their care.” (Wolfelt)
All children will be affected in some way by the death of a much-loved, much-wanted baby. Children, especially very young children unfamiliar with the concept of death, need honest explanations and strong expressions of love from the significant people in their lives to maintain a sense of security and identity in a time of crisis such as this. At the same time, grieving children must also be allowed to express their grief in whatever way seems natural to them.
Young children often do not know how to verbalize or express their feelings when death occurs. They may hold back these emotions or reactions because they find them too overwhelming or because they don’t really understand the finality of death. As a result, some children appear unaffected by the loss and may show their reaction by acting out their feelings in negative ways in their play or other activities.
They may even act out the events surrounding the death. However, it is very important to remember that children do grieve, often very deeply, regardless of their ability or inability to express the emotions they are feeling. Experts also say that children at different ages have differing capacities to understand death, but most agree that before the ages of nine and ten, children do not usually understand that death is
permanent. Adults need to realize this and tailor their explanations accordingly.

Because adults have problems dealing with the reality of death themselves, they may assume that children cannot cope with such an experience. Many adults think they are protecting children by
leaving them out of discussions and rituals associated with the loss. However, when the normal grief process is denied them, children often feel anxious, bewildered and alone. When they are left without answers to their questions, “their fears and fantasies may (sometimes) become more upsetting than the truth.” (Cohn) Such a response or lack or response on the part of adults forces children to seek their own often incorrect and inadequate answers at a time when they are most in need of help and reassurance from the adults around them whom they trust.

The reaction of each individual, whether child or adult, to the death of someone close can vary greatly. Therefore, it follows that each child’s reaction to the death is also unique. However, bereavement experts have noted that there are certain common emotions usually expressed in the grief process of all, including children: FEAR, ANGER, GUILT and SADNESS.
Children, regardless of their age, feel these same emotions in varying degrees. When confronted with death, the basic reactions of children are not very different from those of the adults around them — whether these adults are parents, grandparents, extended family, friends or professional caregivers. The key difference between the grief reactions of adults and children are the intensity and manner of expression.
After death, life is not the same as most people wish it were, but life is the way it is now and this is the situation that will have to be dealt with. “Between the way things used to be and the way they are now...(exists) a void that (can’t) be crossed.” (Moffatt)
Many lives are altered by a baby’s death, but even after such a tragic loss healing can occur. “It is possible to transcend the awfulness of the death by choosing memorial services and other personal rituals that celebrate memory of the baby, while not denying the physical finality of death.” (Horchler) Children must be allowed to be part of this process and they need to know that the people who are important to them care about them no matter what they’re feeling. (Rogers and Sharapan)

Some Common Reactions of Children to Death and Loss:

• Anxiety and Fear. After the death of someone close, children may experience anxious or fearful moments. They may fear that they themselves or someone close to them will die, or worry there is
something wrong with them or that their bodies will cease to work. Children may cling to parents or other adults around them and seek frequent expressions of love or affirmation.
• Anger. Children may express anger at the baby for dying or at God for not letting the baby live. Children, especially young children, are mostly concerned with their own needs and often show
anger when they feel these needs might not be met. Children need to know that it is ok to show anger as long as it is not hurtful to others.
• Guilt. In some cases, surviving siblings may feel guilt because of angry thoughts or feelings of resentment they may have had toward the baby. They may resent all the attention focused on the
baby during pregnancy or after the death. Surviving children may also feel guilty about not behaving “better” in some way, or that something they did caused harm to the baby or may even have caused
the death. A child may even feel guilty about being alive when the baby is dead, and may sense that parents also may feel guilty about this. Children need to know that even if they had angry thoughts
or feelings about the baby, these did not cause the death.
• Regression. After a death, young children may revert to earlier behaviour patterns, such as bed-wetting, taking a bottle, thumb-sucking, demanding to sleep with the parents or fearing to be
left alone. In most cases, these behavioural patterns are short-term and the child usually moves on with the help and understanding of loving adults.
• Physical Symptoms. After the death, children may express various physical complaints such as headaches or stomach aches, sleeping and eating habits may change or they may experience
bad dreams.
• Shock. Sometimes children may not believe that a death really happened and may act as though it had not, and some children may appear not to show any emotion at all. Children sometimes react
this way because they cannot grasp the concept of death. Death is a totally unfamiliar concept to most children.
• Sadness. In some cases, grieving children may show a decrease in activity—becoming too quiet or introspective, expressing feelings of sadness, daydreaming or crying a lot without being able
to explain why. 

Friends


When a friend is bereaved, you want to support them as best you can, you may find some of this information useful.

Some general do's and don'ts when dealing with bereaved friends

Do get in touch. Let your genuine concern and caring show.
Do be available to listen, to help with the other children, or whatever else seems needed at the time. Offer help with practical matters like house cleaning and meals.
Do say you are sorry about what happened to their baby and about their pain.
Do allow them to express as much grief as they are feeling at the moment and are willing to share. Accept silence; if the family doesn’t feel like talking, don’t force conversation. Follow their lead.
Do encourage them to be patient with themselves, not to expect too much of themselves and not to impose any “shoulds” on themselves.
Do allow them to talk about their baby.
Do give special attention to the siblings of the baby that died.
Do reassure them that they did everything that they could, the medical care their baby received was the best, or whatever else you know to be true and positive about the care given their baby and/or pregnancy.
Do encourage them to seek outside help, either from a health professional or another bereaved parent.
Do remember the family on the baby’s birthday, anniversary of death, Mothers Day, Fathers Day and other occasions. Permanent memorials, such as the First Candle Tree of Hope, help families know that their baby has not been forgotten.
Do be patient with them. Coping with the death of their baby may take a long time. Stay in touch.
Don’t let your own sense of helplessness keep you from reaching out to the family
Don’t avoid the family because you are uncomfortable.
Don’t say you know how they feel (unless you’ve lost a child yourself, you probably don’t know how they feel.)
Don’t probe for details about the baby’s death. If the family offers information, listen with understanding.
Don’t tell them what they should feel or do. Don’t impose your religious or spiritual views on them.
Don’t change the subject when they mention their dead baby.
Don’t point out that at least they have another child; or could have more children in the future.
Don’t blame anyone for the death. Don’t make comments which suggest that the care in the hospital or emergency room, at home, at the childcare provider’s or wherever was inadequate.
Don’t try to find something positive about the baby’s death. Avoid clichés and easy answers.
Don’t avoid mentioning the baby’s name out of fear of reminding them of their pain.
Don’t say “you ought to be feeling better by now” or anything else which implies a judgment about their feelings, or sets time expectations or limits their healing process.
Practical Help:

Help out with household chores. Offer to do the shopping, cook some meals and put them in the freezer, do the washing and housework.

Offer to mind other children in the house.

Offer to screen visitors to the house. Parents who have just lost a child may find that their house becomes a meeting point for extended family when the immediate family really need time to themselves.

Consider sending a hamper of useful items instead of flowers ie dry goods,fruit or something for the parents.

Observe the parents for signs of ill health either physical or mental and raise your concerns if you feel that the parents may require medical attention.

Remember anniversaries and milestones. Consider a Christmas Tree decoration for the baby.

In the Future

If the family go on to have another pregnancy be positively supportive without offer false positives ie everything will be fine is a false positive.Emphasise that you will be there to support the family should they require anything, regardless of the outcome.

Just because the family are having another baby does not mean the pain of losing a child is now gone.Be cognisant of the families feelings.

Things to try avoid:

Do not turn up at the family home as soon as the baby passes away .Give the family space to come to terms with what has happened unless you are in a position to screen visitors to the house.

Always phone ahead if you wish to visit.

Do not bring children or babies to the house when visiting

Do not expect tea and biscuits when you visit and decline the offer if you are offered on your visit. Offer to make tea for those present and bring alone food to offer to other visitors. Wash up afterwards and put the dishes away.

Do not bring friends with you when visiting the family -they are strangers and the family does not need to be exposed to further stress at this traumatic time.

When you are visiting the family you are doing so as a comforter. Try to control your emotions .Its important to shed a tear with the family but do not lose sight of reality of the situation-they have lost their most precious child.
Avoid saying comments like: You need to move on When are you going to start trying again? Or, Are you trying yet? Anything starting with "just". e.g. just chill, just be happy, just think of the good times, just have another baby Anything relating to weight loss - eg. of course you're not breast feeding or picking up toys so that's why you haven't lost weight, you'll loose it when you're ready etc. Don't worry, you'll have another one. 

Do not say "if you need me ring me".Make regular contact with the family and take control of prompting the parents to ask for help-make suggestions regarding things you may be able to help with.

Dont avoid people if you dont know what to say-a hug says more than words. 

Dont feel guilty for having your own children 

Parents

Lisa shares her very heartbreaking story and shares her very private photograph of her son Jonathon and daughter Amy. 

This is a photo of two beatiful twin angels Jonathon and Amy who were born 18 weeks premature, Jonathon (left) was 590g and Amy was 500g. They breathed for an hour before passing away in their parents arms. There was nothing they could do to save them back in 1997, who knows if they would have survived nowadays with things come on so much.

My name is Lisa, after having our first child Andrew in 1991 we struggled to have a 2nd child for years. Eventually after 4 miscarriages and one ectopic pregnancy we got pregnant with twins following our 2nd ivf attempt but sadly Jonathon and Amy where born at 22 weeks and lived only an hour. That was back in 1997 and it took 7 more ivf attempts and 9 years to have another successful ivf cycle. We were expecting twins again, this time it was two girls. 10 weeks into the pregnancy we were to discover the devastating news that one of our precious girls was not developing properly and that she had neural tube defects which were not compatible with life. We did not know whether the other twin would survive if her sister died in utero. I had a suture placed at 20 weeks as my cervix started to dilate and remained on bed rest, praying that my sick little girl would hang on for a sister. When we learned that one of our girls would die soon after birth we chose names for the girls, Sarah Rose and Rebecca Rose. I got to know Rebecca more and more each day and cherished each little kick knowing that I would have very little time with her when she was born, everyday was a bonus. Sarah stopped growing at 26 weeks due to the excess fluid around her sister bearing down on her so a decision was made that if Sarah didn’t start to grow it would be better to have her in the world for her own good. The day before I was due to go in Sarah’s waters broke and I gave birth to my long awaited beautiful little girls on 27th of July 2006. Sarah was so tiny and whisked away to icu and Rebecca remained in our arms as we said goodbye to her, she was so beautiful, she knew we were there with her but she was struggling to stay alive so we kissed her and told us it was ok to go and be at peace.

Sarah spent too weeks in high dependency but was doing great albeit soooo tiny. Her whole hand was the size of her daddy’s thumbnail!! At 3 weeks she was moved to the ordinary ICU but got an infection and was very ill. Then her bilirubin levels started to go very high and although she was under photo therapy all the time, it was very hard to control after her 5th blood transfusion she was very very sick and the hospital were very close to calling us one night to come in and say goodbye to her. These days were so hard, we had already buried 3 babies and I cried and prayed day and night that she would survive.

As time went by Sarah got stronger and stronger and finally after 3 months the day came where she was able to come home, she was 4lbs then. Sarah will be 4 years next Tuesday and is a feisty and very clever little girl, we never stop counting our blessings and of course remembering Rebecca and Jonathon and Amy that didn’t make it.

Our other news is that I gave birth to a little boy on the 2nd of April this year, Adam is a fine healthy baby, again my cervix started to open at 20 weeks and I had a stitch placed which was taken out at 38 weeks and Adam came into the world weighing 7lbs. Adam was a frozen embryo from my ivf cycle that gave me Sarah and Rebecca. Finally my family is complete!!



Brenda shares her heartbreaking loss of Arron and Amelia



At 21, I discovered I was pregnant with my first baby. She was delivered at 33 weeks weighing 2lb 9 ozs. She was in hospital for 6 weeks. She is 8 now and getting her communion in May, oh how time has flown by. Little did I realise when I had my daughter that special care units would become a familiar place for me and my husband. 
For us as a couple, the time we spent in the Coombe’s NICU will stay with us forever. 

Our son was born at 28 weeks weighing 1 lb 5 ozs. I thought I knew so much about prematurity, after all my daughter was also premature. How wrong I was. We called him Aaron. He was so small, much smaller than my daughter, half her weight. He was ventilated and doing very little for himself. He was requiring the highest level of support and 100% oxygen. He had several blood and platelet transfusions when I first saw him. The first thought in my head was fear. I think fear of everything. I was afraid he was in pain. I was afraid of all the pipes and tubes, one in his mouth and 3 from his bellybutton, I was afraid that he was going to die and I was so afraid to love him. I tried so hard to not care for him because I knew how sick he was. 

When Aaron was 5 days old I was discharged from the hospital. His consultant asked for a word with me. She explained briefly that Aaron’s left lung had collapsed and that he would require ventilation for a long time. She said he would have chronic lung disease too. I may have been told he had a terminal disease as I did not know what this really bad disease was.

Everyday I made the long trip to Dublin (we live in Laois). I sat beside Aaron’s incubator and time after time it was explained to me how sick he was. It was so hard. Everyday I thought he was going to die, everyday I cried and cried and willed for him to live. 

I suppose the one emotion that I clinged onto at this stage was fear. I was still so afraid he was going to die and I wished I did not love him so much. I cried when I was near him, I cried when I was away from him. I wanted him so much but I could not help him in any way, it was a hopeless situation. 

This scenario continued for a long time. His biggest problem was his lungs. He needed high frequency ventilation for a short period. Needing so much ventilation meant that he was mostly sedated. I rarely got to see him awake. He needed resuscitation on numerous occasions, it was just so scary. Aaron had 150 platelet transfusions and over 50 blood transfusions. He had so many marks from canulas and they had shaved most of his hair because access points were a problem. He had 2 central lines done in Crumlin and got infection after infection. He always needed antibiotics and he even had a lumbar puncture as they felt infections may have spread. 

After 11 long weeks he was to be extubated. I was so excited. I would hear him cry for the first time and he would be awake more often as he would not need sedation that he required when ventilated. I was told to go have a coffee and the extubation would be done during the rounds. I returned and Aaron was on BiPAP. He was crying, he was so hoarse kind of like a little cat. I sat and cried again. After 11 long weeks of ups and downs I was listening to my baby crying. I was so happy. He had turned a corner and was breathing on his own. He had been infection free for nearly 2 weeks. I was just so happy. 

When I returned the next day he had been changed to CPAP as he cried all day with BiPAP. Another step forward, it was great. Next step was nasal prong oxygen and he would more than likely leave the hospital needing oxygen. Then I got to feed him for the first time. He struggled but after 2 or 3 attempts he seemed to be getting the hand of it. 

On Christmas day (14 weeks in NICU) he was transferred into a cot and we were given a cubicle. I could not believe that we had come near the end of our journey. All we needed now was to get the hang of bottles and we were on the home stretch. The light at the end of the tunnel. 

One year later I had my first and only term baby who was 6 pounds. 

My fourth Baby, Amelia, was born very early at 25 weeks. She was 1 pound. Again it was a difficult time in the NICU but a very short one. 

I had an ultrasound at 8.20am. It was discovered that baby was in distress and her heart rate was very low. She was delivered at 8.50am. Within half an hour I was not pregnant. My mother, sister and husband rushed up. When nobody would tell me how the baby was I knew it was bad. I used all my strength to get out of bed and go up to the NICU to see her. She was a bad colour, really bruised around her head. I knew what this meant. She had a massive bleed on her brain. We awaited a cranial ultrasound to confirm our fears. Amelia had suffered 4 bleeds, 2 significant ones. She was doing nothing for herself. The doctors felt that it was best to let her go. We agreed and she died 5 hours and 26 minutes after her birth. I came home with her a short while later. 

I was very sad after Amelia’s death but I knew that I wanted another baby. 11 months later I was back in the Coombe. I had Jessica at 32 weeks after a bad bleed. She was a good weight for her gestation, 4 lb 3 ozs. She did not breathe after delivery and required resuscitation for what felt like hours. She was then ventilated but was in a good condition. An hour later she was on CPAP and doing really well. An hour after this she was breathing on her own. She spent two and a half weeks in SCBU. I was thrilled that we were coming home so soon. She had just began to take her feeds and was back to birth weight. 

For me, each experience in the NICU was very different. Each baby had its own battles and each one turned out differently. There were a lot of tears and definitely a lot of fears!!! It is scary when you have a sick baby. It is also important not to compare one baby to another. Like all humans they are so different. The staff are great; they try to help so much. Trust them; they know their jobs inside out. They care for the babies so well. They talk to them and even sing to them. They just treat them like normal babies. I learned over time to put my trust in them. If you are in any doubt, ask questions. Ask all the questions you need too. If you don’t understand, ask again. Do not leave the unit everyday wondering what something means, just ask! 

In memory of Aaron and Amelia.

When a baby dies, hopes and dreams are shattered and lives are forever changed. Initial feelings of shock and confusion are combined with questions. What happened? Why me?

Many times the lack of answers to these questions adds to the overwhelming feelings of grief and helplessness.

These intense emotions are real and a normal part of grieving. Grief is a process of trying to cope with your loss and make meaning out of life without your baby. Grieving is not easy. It is long, unpredictable and requires a lot of patience. But it is necessary if you are to work through the pain toward healing.

Dealing with the sudden, unexpected death of a baby to any cause is devastating – but in the case of a death for which no specific cause can be found, the lack of answers about why your baby has died can be overwhelming. We hope you will find some of the answers you are looking for here – and we can assure you that we will continue our research, advocacy and educational efforts to ensure that every baby is provided the best possible chance to survive and thrive. . . in the belief that every baby should live.

For the Newly Bereaved courtesy of Bereaved parents of the USA-http://www.bereavedparentsusa.org

The death of our children at any age from any circumstance is indeed one of the cruellest blows that life has to offer. The journey through this grief is a very long, dark, difficult and painful one for bereaved parents.

In the early minutes, days, weeks, months and even years of grief, we find ourselves in an all consuming grief and pain beyond description. We find it difficult to carry on our everyday lives or to think of little except our children’s death. Even our once wonderfully happy memories, shared with our children while they lived, now bring us pain for a time.

Bereaved parents do not “get over” the death of our children nor “snap out of it” as the outside world seems to think we can and should. The death of our children is not an illness or a disease from which we recover. It is a life altering change with which we must learn to live.

With the death of our children we are forced to do the “impossible”: build a new life and discover a “new normal” for ourselves and our families in a world that no longer includes our beloved children.

It is important for newly bereaved parents to know that they will experience a wide and often frightening variety of intense feelings after the death of our children.

It is also important for newly bereaved parents to understand and know that all of the feelings that you experience are very natural and normal under the circumstances.
Equally important for you to know and believe is that as much as you cannot possibly believe it, you will not always feel this powerful and all consuming grief.

But right now you must follow the instincts of your soul and allow your bodies and hearts to grieve. The grief resulting from your child’s death can not be skirted over, around or under. You must go through it in order to come out on the other side.

Be gentle and patient with yourself and your family. Allow yourself to cry, to grieve, and to retell your children’s story as often as needed and for as long as you need to.

Eventually, you will smile and find joy again. You will never forget your child; he or she will be with you in your heart and memories for as long as you live.

Some of the things you may experience or feel are:

Depression.
A profound longing and emptiness.
Wanting to die. This feeling usually passes in time; for eventually you will realize that you must go on for the sake of remaining family members, yourself and your child who died.
Profound sadness.
Crying all the time or at unexpected times.
Inability to concentrate on anything, frequently misplacing items.
Wondering “Why???”
Forgetfulness.
Questioning yourself over and over: "IF only I had….?" "Why didn’t I…?"
Placing unnecessary guilt on yourself or others.
Anger with yourself, family members, God, the doctor and even your child for dying.
Fearing that you are going crazy! (very normal)
Great physical exhaustion. Grief is hard work and consumes much energy!
Difficulty sleeping or sleeping all the time to avoid the pain.
Physical symptoms such as heaviness in your chest or having difficulty breathing (if these feelings persist see your physician) tightness in your throat, yawning, sighing, gasping or even hyperventilating.
Lack of appetite or over eating.
Weight gain or weight loss.
Anxiety. (Often associated with overprotective behaviour toward surviving children and other family members.)
Denial of your loss, thinking that your child will return. (Denial can be effectively treated by spiritual leaders as well as psychologists. Seek help if your denial phase persists beyond a month.)
Needing to tell and retell the story of your child’s death.
Inability to function in your job.
Sensing your child’s presence or an odour or touch associated with your child.
Having difficulty grocery shopping because of seeing your child’s favourite food(s) on the shelves.
Irrationally upset with yourself if you smile or laugh, thinking how can I smile, my child is dead? (Your child will want your life to be as good and as happy as possible in spite of death’s intervention.)
Feelings as if your spouse or other family members don’t understand your grief or are not grieving as you think they should. Remember everyone grieves differently.
Losing old friends who don’t seem to understand your pain and grief.
Making new friends through support groups with members who have also experienced the death of a child and therefore understand your feelings.
Feeling like you are making progress in your grief work, then slip back into the old feelings. Grief work usually is a succession of two steps forward and one step back over a long period of time.
Becoming very frustrated with others who expect you to be “over this” in a month, six months or a year and who say so. Or even being frustrated with yourself for expecting to be “over this” too soon.
Grief work from the death of your child is a slow process. Be patient with yourself.
Keep remembering that you are not the only one who has had these experiences. These experiences are all typical, natural and normal feelings for bereaved parents. You cannot ignore them: you must work through them. It will require even more time to feel better if you try to deny your feelings. There are no timetables for grief; each person must take as long as it takes for him or her to work through these feelings. 
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