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The Loss of an Infant
No one expects an infant to die. Though you know this tragedy has occurred, you may have a difficult time accepting it.
Often, it is hard for parents to understand why their baby has died. You might find yourself wondering if you could have prevented your child’s death. You may believe that you caused the death or that your baby’s death is punishment for your past actions. These are normal reactions for parents. Grief is a physical, emotional and spiritual journey.
Fathers and mothers grieve differently. A mother’s grief might be more intense and last longer than that of other relatives. Realize that grandparents’ grief is often overlooked. As your parents, they grieve for you as well as for the loss of their grandchild.
As you grieve, understand that mourning has no prescribed length. Expect your grief to resurface on certain days, especially on birthdays, holidays or the anniversary of the death. You may feel a sense of loss and sadness, which will accompany you for the rest of your life. Here are some steps you can take to cope with these emotions.
COPING WITH YOUR GRIEF
- If necessary, speak with your doctor and ask questions so that you can understand the cause of your baby’s death.
- Create a support system. Many hospitals have support groups for parents whose infants have died. Organizations such as The Compassionate Friends, SIDS, Candlelighters and Share may be active in your community.
- Take good care of yourself. Try to eat properly and get plenty of rest and exercise. Help your spouse to do the same.
- Give yourself time to grieve for your baby before having or adopting another child. When the time is right for another child, he or she will be a special person, not a replacement.
- If you have other children, maintain open and honest communication with them. They may not fully understand how death can happen to an infant. They may also find it difficult to understand your need to grieve. Find other friends or family members who can pay special attention to your children.
— Adapted from an article by Nancy E. Crump, M.S., Certified Grief Counselor