Grandparents and family members
The death of a grandchild may be the hardest thing a grandparent ever experiences. Grandparents await the joys of watching grandchildren grow, so the loss of these hopes and dreams for both the child and family is incredibly painful.
The grief experienced by a grandparent is heightened by the experience of witnessing the grief of their own child. The inability to be able to ease their pain can be challenging and distressing. Liz, a bereaved Grandparent Befriender of The Lullaby Trust writes:
“Another of our sadness’s on that dreadful day was that neither our son, who had been the most affectionate son anyone could imagine, nor our daughter-in-law whom we loved deeply, wanted to be hugged. It was awful. There was really nothing we could do to comfort them”.
A very deep sense of loss may be felt by those who live far away from the grandchild, and may not have been able to see and hold him or her before their death. These considerations apply to other relatives too, and if it was a niece or nephew who died, feelings of loss may be complicated by fears for their own children.
The Lullaby Trust Helpline is there for anyone in a family affected by the sudden and unexpected death of a baby or toddler on 0808 802 6868. A number of bereaved grandparents are available as Befrienders to support those whose grandchild has sadly died.
“The grandparents dilemma is a completely different approach to the tragedy from that of their own children, hence their need to talk to someone through that heart rendering process of bereavement, mourning and grieving. Very gradually, over the years, the destructive feelings of guilt some families feel start to fade, the values and priorities in their lives change, their sense of humour re-emerges, and the future seems more bearable”.
- Liz, bereaved grandmother