SHARE Atlanta Pregnancy and Newborn Grief Support Sibling Grief

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Sharing with our child further down the path. by Marcia McGinnis

  • Make sure those who are around your child are aware of the circumstances and can be attentive to his needs.

  • Keep all of the suggestions "for initial coping" in mind

  • Remember children need time to grieve just as an adult does

  • Keep listening

  • Always, even years later, be open for comments and expression of feelings and concerns. Your child will change in his understanding of the circumstances around your loss, as he does he may want to address these issues - in terms and understandings that he can now take in.

  • Give yourself and your child time just to "be" - make time to play and enjoy each other for the moment

  • Along those lines, give yourself a "break" - brief times away from your child - for both of you to "regroup". Stress levels are usually high, and you may not relate to him as you want: either too much/little attention; frustration; worn-out; etc.- warrant time away. Remember that grieving takes energy and patience. Love your child and yourself enough to allow this time. It is a normal need.

  • Sometimes a child does not have the exact words to describe what he is feeling - role playing or "acting" out with a doll or puppet can help you and him to understand what is happening.

  • Seek out plenty of information about children and grief in books, support groups, etc. Refer to drop down box "Links/Books" for more support.

  • Sometimes the issue of death and separation from you comes up - be prepared with a "safe" answer, one you are comfortable with (i.e. death is part of life's plan - I don't plan on dying before I'm very old.)

  • Try to keep in mind that our responses to death are partly based on our background and society's expectations. Our child usually is free of these norms and more open to expressing ideas and feelings.

  • Secondary losses have a big role in our reactions to our child. We often feel as though we have failed in so many areas. We often carry the grief that our child bears as well as our own because we feel so responsible for his pain and for the time we are taking to grieve. Please try to forgive yourself for what has happened. You did the best you could at the time, and our living child only wants us to be honest in our grief and to love ourselves and our family enough to heal.

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