The information on this page was adapted from information all over the Internet and especially a site called " A Little Bit of Heaven," a wonderfully comforting site for parents experiencing the grief of losing a baby or young child. At the time of publications, this info was not copyrighted. If any of this information is now copyrighted we'll be happy to attribute authorship or remove it as you wish. Nothing on this page should be construed as intended to take the place of professional counseling.
A loved one's death often causes one to challenge and examine his/her faith or philosophy of life. It is all right to question old beliefs. Talk about it. Faith in God gives you the ability to forgive and accept the unacceptable. If you believe in the power of prayer, lean on the love of people whose prayers you trust and respect.
Alcohol and sedatives can cloud thinking and slow down the bereavement process. Yes, the passing of a loved one is painful. But, use prescribed medications sparingly, only under a doctor's supervision and set a definite time to end the use of medication - especially potentially addictive drugs.
Anger is a common and normal response to death of a loved one - particularly if their passing is violent or unexpected. That anger may be difficult for you to acknowledge and for others to witness. Find healthy and safe ways to express your anger. Try not to take it out on other family members - especially surviving children.
Crying is a healthy expression of grief and releases built-up tension. Cry freely - as often and as intensely as you feel the need.
Each person's grief is different. You and your spouse will experience it and cope with it differently. In truth, one never quite recovers from the death of someone close. Ultimately, you will heal and learn how to live with their absence.
Friends and relatives may be uncomfortable around you. They want to ease your pain but don't know how. Take the initiative and help them learn how to be supportive to you. Talk about your loved one so they know this is okay with you and that you feel it to be appropriate.
Normal signs of grief include sighing, tightness of throat, dullness of perception, volatile emotions, guilt feelings, aloofness, depression, and a marked change in behavior.
Grief lasts much longer than our society is willing to accommodate. Now a days, "get over it" and "move on" epitomizes a cultural impatience with perceived weakness. Maybe the Victorians had it right. Allow yourself time (two-four years) to heal. Be patient with yourself.
Guilt (real or imagined) is a normal part of grief. It surfaces in thoughts and feelings of "if only." Learn to express and share these feelings and learn to forgive yourself.
Holiday and anniversary times are reminders of your empty heart. Plan ahead to avoid some of the added stress. Don't expect others to remember or be sensitive to how you might feel. Lower expectations on yourself. Schedule some activities during the holidays that will bring you comfort.
Include the other loved ones in your grief. Don't hide your tears from them; be open and honest about your own painful feelings. They, too, are grieving and need an avenue to express their feelings. They need to be included and to feel your love. You may find it helpful to find a close family member who can supply what you are not able to give at this time.
Often grieving persons believe that they should feel guilty about having a good time, or even laughing. Enjoy yourself when you can. Laughter is a part of life, too.
Physical reactions to the death of a loved one may include loss of appetite or overeating, sleeplessness, fatigue or sexual difficulties. You may find that you have very little energy and cannot concentrate. A balanced diet, rest, and moderate exercise are especially important for the whole family at this time.
You may feel that you have nothing to live for and want a release from the intense pain. Be assured that many bereaved feel this way but that a sense of purpose and meaning does return and, the pain does lessen.
Dealing With Grief
Accept help from others.
Do something physically active every day, even if it's just taking a short walk.
Join a support group.
Keep a journal of your thoughts and feelings.
Listen to music or relaxation tapes.
Pray and/or seek spiritual help.
Write to your doctor, nurse, or support person and tell them how helpful they were.
Memorializing Your Loved One
At Christmas, hang a stocking or a special personalized ornament in honor of your loved one.
Create a memory book or box for your baby's mementos.
Create a web site about your loved one or leave a tribute to your loved one on a site for the grieving.
Create a wreath or shadowbox decorated with memories and possessions of your loved one.
Decorate a t-shirt, create a quilt from their clothes or make blanket that you can wear/use when you need to be comforted and feel close to your loved one.
Do needlework or another craft project symbolizing your love for the deceased.
Donate flowers for your church on your loved one's birthday, passing date or special holiday.
Donate time, money or books to support groups for grieving parents, spouses or others.
Draw, paint, or sculpture with colors and textures that reflect your feelings.
Have a sketch drawn of your baby or loved one.
Make an audio cassette of songs that remind you of your loved one.
Name a star for your loved one -- Visit the International Star Registry web page for details.
Start a special flower garden or plant a tree -- add a sign that says "baby's garden," "in memory of...," etc.
Use a special symbol, sticker or rubber stamp as your loved one's "signature" on Christmas cards.
Write down the thoughts and memories you have of your loved one, their life, important events you shared with them and the love they gave you.
Memorializing Your Baby
Buy a special piece of jewelry with your baby's birthstone.
Decorate your child grave with balloons, flowers, toys, a wreath, small windsock, or a pinwheel on their birthday. Submit an article or poem about your baby to a pregnancy loss newsletter.
If your baby had a name, use it.
Keep a photo of your baby in your purse or wallet.
Make an angel-food cake on a deceased baby's birthday.
On the anniversary of your baby's passing, send the hospital a plant to be given to the next family that loses a baby.
Purchase a special candle to be lit every year on your baby's birthday.
Send family and friends packets of flower seeds, (forget-me-nots are especially meaningful) on your loved one's birthday.
Send out announcements or Memorial Cards to your friends and family to let them know that your baby was born, and died. Let them know that it's okay to talk about your loved one. Include the loved one's name (if given one) and birth information.
Start a collection, (angels, teddy bears, stars, etc)
Talk to your baby. Tell him how you feel and how much you miss him. Write a letter to your baby.
Tie a "love note" to your baby, onto a helium-filled balloon. Release the balloon to heaven.
Write music or poetry to or about your baby.
How to Support a Grieving Family Member or Friend
Be liberal with touching or hugs. We often have a need for contact.
Be understanding if we aren't "up to" attending celebrations or other gatherings, (ie: Christmas parties, baby showers, etc).
Be understanding if we sound a little selfish. Only after we are able to adjust and experience the journey of grief can we reach out and help others.
Don't be afraid of reminding us of our loved one. We haven't forgotten. Letting us know that you remember is comforting.
Don't put-away or hide the loved one's belongings unless we ask you to. This may be something we need to do as part of the mourning process, or a way we find comfort.
Know that in our struggles with grief, we may have difficulties with the following:
planning a funeral or memorial service
making decisions about the baby's remains
understanding our many emotions and feeling emotionally balanced
coping with feelings of guilt, anger and jealousy
dealing with normal daily functions due to lack of energy or concentration
coping with the individuality of our grief as a family and as a couple
seeing others that are the same age as our loved one would have been
seeing pregnant women (if you have lost a child)
making major decisions, such as subsequent pregnancies, moving, job changes, etc
visiting the cemetery and purchasing a tombstone
remembering y our loved one in special ways that are acceptable
feeling different and subsequently, feeling isolated
dealing with physical symptoms that arise due to grieving
Offer specific help; such as providing a meal, running errands, or babysitting our other loved ones.
Offer us specific help; such as providing a meal, running errands, or babysitting our other loved ones.
Please don't judge us. You may not agree with some of our decisions, or the way we are handling things. Remember that you may not know all the details, and know that you can't imagine what we are going through unless you have gone through it yourself.
Realize that our baby can't be replaced by another loved one.
Realize that saying "I'm sorry" at any time after our baby has died is never inappropriate or too late.
Remember that bereaved fathers need as much support as mothers, (but be aware that men may deal with their grief much differently than women)
Remember our loved one, especially on difficult days such as Mother's Day, Father's Day, their birthday and death date. A card with a short note is always appropriate.
Understand that the amount of time our loved one lived doesn't determine his/her value or the impact that the loved one had on our lives.
Understand that mourning is a long, but necessary process. It may take us two years, (or even longer) to go through the phases of mourning. Even then, we will still have some "bad" days.
Understand that we will not be the same people we were before our loss. Our lives, hopes and plans have been changed profoundly.
What to say to grieving relatives/friends:
"I'm so sad for your loss."
"This must be terribly hard for you."
"What can I do for you?"
"I'm here for you."
"I want to listen."
"Talk as long as you want. I have plenty of time."
"How are you doing today?"
"You don't have to say anything at all."
What NOT to say to grieving relatives/friends:
"It all happened for the best."
"You can have another baby."
"Now you have an angel in heaven."
"It's good that this happened now...before you got to know the baby."
"This is God's way of saying that something was wrong."
"You should feel lucky that you're alive."
"Put it behind you and move on with your life."
"I know how you feel." (unless you've been through a similar experience)
you (or someone you know) are experiencing a period of grief and need
someone to pray for you, please go here to send me