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
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 .
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, 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.
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.
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