Grandparents’ Reactions to Your Loss

Grandparents are considered “disadvantaged grievers” during perinatal loss. Grandparents of the baby who died are caught feeling a terrible pain at losing a grandchild and also needing to be a source of comfort for their own child – the mother or father of the baby.

It is not uncommon for grandparents’ grief to get completely sidetracked during the aftermath of a loss. Grandparents are not sure where to put themselves or their emotions. They want to be helpful to their children but they are not always acknowledged as also having feelings that need to be managed.

Grandparents may play a role in helping other grandchildren with their physical or emotional needs since the grandchildren’s parents may be preoccupied, not only with their emotions, but also with physical needs, and making arrangements for the deceased baby.

Sometimes grandparents may play an active role in helping to make funeral arrangements in order to help their children through this difficult process.

It is a complicated and oven overlooked population.

Grandparents can seek help through counseling. There are not usually support groups specifically for grandparents, but you can ask at your local support group center if there is anything for grandparents. Occasionally hospitals or organizations offer a one- time workshop for grandparents. In those situations grandparents can meet other grandparents and share not only what their children went through, but also what it’s been like for them as grandparents dealing with their emotions and their children’s needs.

A perinatal loss for grandparents may also bring up experiences or issues that the grandparent herself may have had during her reproductive years. There have been many changes over the years in acknowledging reactions and emotions associated with pregnancy and infant loss. Perhaps previous losses may not have been acknowledged in “their day” and this may be another reason that a grandparent may wish to seek support.

At this time and the society that we live in, it is now acceptable and encouraged for anyone who has been affected by a perinatal loss to seek support or counseling if you think it will help. At memorial services there is often an opportunity for grandparents to acknowledge a loss they may have had years before. There are grandparents who today may find a babies’ memorial garden or path where they can memorialize their losses in addition to their children’s current loss. You must inquire at your local hospital, support center or cemetery about these options.