When a child dies the entire family dynamic is changed, and the pain after the loss of a baby or child can be completely overwhelming. The child is considered a part of the family forever and the void left also remains forever.
Grandparents need love and support as well. Their grief is sometimes more difficult. They see the pain and misery of their own child and as a parent, they want to comfort and make things better. When their child hurts, they hurt. As a grandparent, they are also mourning the loss of their grandchild. The bond between a grandparent and grandchild is very unique and the loss is profound.
It is important for grandparents to also realize that as much as they want to comfort and need comfort from their child, during these early months after a loss, they must be encouraged to find support outside of their bereaved child, as they are incapable of providing support as they navigate the unfamiliar journey of their own grief.
How you can support your family?
- Listen, listen, listen!
- Your body language is important. Eye contact and caring gestures support the human connection with your family member.
- You are not there to fix them or remove their grief. Their grief is important, it will eventually take them to their healing.
- Be receptive and embrace the many stories associated with the child. These stories are to be remembered.
- Hearing and saying the child’s name helps in grieving.
- Grief and shock is an individual process – allow for compassion, learning and validation.
- Be respectful in honoring their grieving process.
- Read literature and educate yourself to help you understand your family member’s grief.
- Be mindful of additional family members and friends smothering or over welcoming their stay.
- Remember to recognize the whole family – especially spouses and siblings as well.
- Keep a journal or notes to help with remembering as many details as possible for the family.