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Family Impact

Anyone who suffers the loss of a newborn or a child mourns in many ways like a survivor who has lost a close friend or relative. And each family member mourns differently. 

Parental Grief and Loss

Is there a difference between the grief when an adult relative or friend dies and the grief over the death of one’s child? Parents answer, “YES.” With the death of a child, you may feel a sense of failure in parental responsibilities, as though you should have been able to shelter and protect your baby from death. Professionals who experience the death of a baby in their care often have similar feelings of helplessness. You have lost a part of yourself. To suffer an injury to yourself may fill you with feelings of helplessness and loss of self-esteem. If this is your first child, you may feel a particular loss of self-esteem and image as a parent. Your child’s death, unlike an adult’s death, may cause you to feel as if you are unable to contribute to the future that you had hoped to through a child. Throughout your pregnancy you may have imagined your child as a likeness of yourself or of your partner. These dreams can no longer become a reality. In a way, you have lost a part of the future. Also setting the death of a baby apart from other losses is the lack of memories and shared experiences to comfort you and to act as buffers during the painful grieving periods that follow death. In adults, such memories soothe the way and make the pain of detachment balanced and bearable.

Sibling Grief and Loss

Children look to their parents to model how they should respond to the loss of their sibling. If parents are emotionally unavailable because they are hiding their grief from their child or if parents stuff their grief, resulting in outburst of anger, rage, sadness, frustration or impatience, the child may blame him or herself for the loss. It's important that parents are honest and open about their pain and that they talk, in simple terms, to their child about how the child is feeling about the loss.