SHARE Atlanta Pregnancy and Newborn Grief Support Sibling Grief

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"Helping families cope after a loss."
by Marcia McGinnis

Please help me better understand why this is so hard for me. What have others experienced or done?

Loss of our baby causes a loss of control in general...

When we lose a baby, we are instantly thrust into a world of pain and disbelief. No one could prepare us for the devastation and loss of control that we feel. As we began to realize, that we have to share this experience with our loved ones, we dread the pain we are about to inflict on them.

Feelings of confusion, inadequacy, and "needing to protect ourselves as well as others" are normal during the grieving process

This is especially true if this includes our young child. We want to protect our other child(ren). Protection seems very important, now, because we often feel as though we have just failed, in some way, with the baby we lost. Some parents would rather shield their other children from any pain and not tell them.

Of course, our intense grief is making us want to deny all of what has happened, anyway. We hope that "If we could keep this to ourselves, it may be easier." This may work, but with only the very young (unable to talk). The child who can understand your conversations with others or who can appreciate your "body expressions" will sense your pain and react to it.

Be gentle with yourself and your child, but be best you can...

SHARE Atlanta generally suggests that it is best to tell your child the truth, in language that is appropriate for his/her age. For some families, this is the beginning of open communication - and learning that supporting each other is normal and healthy. Some of us have found that children, even as young as two or three, have insights into the situation that are uninhibited by society and age.

Families begin the healing process together..

As parents have shared the family's loss, many find that they have actually been encouraged by their child. Yes, the sibling may be honest and often expresses him/herself in ways that cause us to pause - even to cry for them, as well as ourselves, but in general their openness may help us down our path. (Marcia McGinnis.)

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