I am a Grandmother of six- four of them are living. I never for a moment thought that I would outlive any of my grandchildren. It doesn’t matter how many weeks gestation they were, or their chronological age. They are, and will always be, my grandchildren.
If you are reading this sub-heading on our web site, you are probably facing this very difficult loss. I extend my heartfelt condolences to you and your family. This “unique loss” is painful, shocking, traumatic and difficult to understand and integrate. As a Grandparent you feel the pain of your children and what they have gone through, and your own sense of loss. It is important to feel your feelings and allow yourself time to grieve in a healthy way.
Understand that the relationship our children had with their pregnancy/infant is very different than our experiences were years ago. This will help you determine the best ways you can support them. Keep in mind that today you can find out you are pregnant very early on, see the heartbeat through ultrasound after 40 days of gestation, begin a relationship with your “child to be” far sooner than our generation did. Dreams, hopes and expectations can begin before one even becomes pregnant. The disappointment and shock is overwhelming. Minimizing or maximizing is not helpful. Finding a grounded, compassionate place to love and support them is a challenging and uniquely personal journey.
I will share with you ways that I found helpful and supportive. I am a psychotherapist and believe strongly that I allow myself to experience life as it is. Joyful, painful, filled with loss it is all part of my being fully present with my experience. Pregnancy and infant loss is still categorized as a ‘disenfranchised grief.” This means that society doesn’t fully accept or support this form of loss. We have a hard enough time dealing with death after someone lives a long, full life. It is incomprehensible that it would happen before one has “lived.”
As a “disenfranchised grief,” people are often uncomfortable talking about this subject. Those suffering withdraw and feel separated from a society that does not understand. I acknowledge there are those who are blessed to have people surrounding them that will allow them to grieve, taking all the time that they need. At this time in our history, these situations are not the norm. Our hope at My Baby Angel Foundation is that this will change.
I don’t know your story or situation. I invite you to contact me after reading through our web site. If I can support you by simply listening, I will be here.
I can share with you what helped me integrate the two most horrific losses that I have ever experienced.
1. A friend called me after my grandson’s death and asked me to walk a nearby lake with her. She is a woman in her 60’s who suffered two pregnancy losses. No one knew of her losses, not even her one child that was living. Her losses were secrets in a world at that time that didn’t want to hear. My friend listened and held my pain and suffering without trying to fix anything. I will be eternally grateful for her friendship. Is there someone in your life that you feel is a good listener and can hear you without trying to fix you?
2. I reached out to a support group…Compassionate Friends met monthly. Anyone who has suffered the loss of a child/grandchild can come to this group. It is run by volunteers, not professionals, and they too have experienced a loss. I attended for about 8 months and told my story each month. It helped me integrate the reality of what had happened and to listen to the stories of others pain and loss. I was not alone in my grief.
3. Hospice offered yearly candle lighting memorial ceremonies. The names of the babies/children are read aloud. This was very powerful. I cried buckets of tears and let my heart open to my sadness and love.
4. I read every book I could find on the subject. You will find a comprehensive list in the resource section of our web site.Readingfor me was another way to help me on the healing journey of integration.
5. I maintained my exercise program and continued eating healthfully. I knew both of these would be important to my health and healing.
6. I took action when I was ready. The action I took was to start an organization that could help the baby loss community and the movement I believe is afoot. Your action can be to create a remembrance, a legacy of love for your Grandbaby. Click here.
Taking care of me and my grief process was a priority, so that I could be more available to support my children in a helpful way. This will not be an easy road. If you allow yourself to truly feel your feelings there will be days of darkness, sadness and pain. Give yourself all the time you need to integrate this experience. If you give yourself the gift of grieving in a healthy way, a day will come when you will once again feel the profound love that lives within each of us.