A Special Note for Grieving Parents

1. There is great meaning in both your child’s life and death.

2. You do not expect to lose a child.  Losing your child does not “fit” with the natural order of life and death.

3. The loss of a child is considered the deepest loss that any person can experience

4. Grief is a natural process that you helps allow you to readjust to life after the loss.

5. Grief is difficult, exhausting, and time-consuming.  It requires your time and attention.

6. Grief cannot be compared!  Each person grieves uniquely and those feelings are valid and deserve respect.

7. There is no standard time frame for grief to end.  Know that it will likely take longer than you might expect.

8.  You may feel alone in your grief, since you had a unique bond and relationship with your child.   While other people may seem to forget or move on, you will continue to remember your child and your deep loss.

9. You lost someone incredibly special.  You deserve to mourn your loss and let your emotions flow.

10.  Devote daily time to allow yourself to mourn your loss.  Letting grief out in bits will help you manage the pain.

Symptoms Common With Grief

Note: Grief is fluid.  There is an ebb and flow to the natural emotions you will experience.  Let the emotions surface and flow out.

Physical Symptoms:

  • Exhaustion
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Anxiousness
  • Racing heart
  • Abdominal distress
  • Appetite changes (often loss of appetite)
  • Nightmares
  • Tearfulness
  • Aching arms from longing for your baby

Emotions:

  • Great sadness
  • Feeling overwhelmed with emotion
  • Great sense of loss and emptiness
  • Panic
  • Restlessness
  • Desire to search for meaning to your loss
  • Forgetfulness
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • A loss in interest in things you once found enjoyable
  • Feeling “out-of-control”
  • Isolation from friends or family
  • Anger
  • Feeling invisible…since other cannot see your pain, you may wonder how the world can continue on as if nothing tragic happened
  • Blaming others for the loss of your baby
  • Guilt (typically felt more deeply by grieving parents than by others who are grieving, which stems from a desire to shield your baby from harm)

Handling Anniversaries, Holidays, and Birthdays

  • One of the sad realities is that you will remember important dates that pertain to your baby (such as the day your baby was born or died), while others may forget.
  • You may anticipate the anniversary of your baby’s due date, birth, and death with pain and dread, while these dates may go unnoticed by friends and family.
  • Remind your friends and family ahead of time that you are having a difficult time as an anniversary date approaches, so that they can be supportive to you when you need them to be.
    • Don’t “set them up to fail” and don’t set yourself up for disappointment by saying nothing.
    • Be specific as to what your needs might be (such as, “I would like you to come over and spend time with me on this important day.”)
  • It may help to make a point of doing something special on the anniversary of your child’s birth or death as a way of remembering their child.
    • Visit the grave-site
    • Send a contribution to your favorite charity in your child’s name
    • Make a birthday cake and celebrate
    • Plan a special family day/time with your partner
    • Light a candle in memory of the baby
  • Some parents anticipate a sense of depression/sadness as holidays approach
    • Some parents find it helpful to “include” their dead child in the holidays in a meaningful way that feels appropriate to them, such as:
      • Making a special Christmas ornament for their Christmas tree
      • Donating to a holiday charity in your child’s name
      • Making mention of your child to family and friends at holiday gatherings.

When Professional Help is Needed

Professional help should be considered when:

  • You are using alcohol or drugs to numb your pain.
  • You are not functioning at your normal capacity several weeks following your loss (meaning, your appetite is gone, you are not sleeping, you are not able to practice good daily hygiene, you are struggling to get out of bed in the morning).
  • You refuse support and comfort from others.
  • You are socially isolating.
  • You are unable to speak about your deceased baby without becoming completely incapacitated, even thought it’s been several months following your baby’s death.
  • You have thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
  • You feel completely numb or emotionally void.

Who To Turn To?

  • Your obstetrician or family physician
  • A psychologist, social worker, and/or family counselor
  • Clergy
  • Self-help groups
    To locate a group in your area, contact the National SHARE Office at 1-800-821-6819
  • Internet
    A word of caution: Be careful of some online “support groups” as the tone may be gloomy.
  • Books may also be helpful

Article Written by:

Alicia Duzman, Ph.D.
Licensed Psychologist (PSY 21195)
616 S. El Camino Real, Suite G-16
San Clemente, CA 92672
949.378.4882
aliciaduzman@yahoo.com

My name is Alicia Duzman, Ph.D. and I am a licensed psychologist with a private practice in San Clemente, California.   Over the past 13 years, I have dedicated my practice to assisting women, and their families, navigate their way through infant loss, infertility, and perinatal mood disorders (i.e., depression/anxiety during pregnancy and/or postpartum.).   When I sit down with these individuals, I hear of their journeys through grief, loss, and longing and I am truly humbled to be trusted with this pain. In my practice, I make it a priority to listen with compassion and provide strong support as I guide my patients through the challenges of loss and grief.   It is with great honor that I counsel the mothers, fathers, and families who have lost children during pregnancy and postpartum.   My therapeutic techniques are research-based and include supportive, grief therapy; tools for managing intense emotions; and guidance on future planning.   My hope is that each individual suffering with the loss of an infant can get the support and compassion so deserved.

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