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Should I still be grieving for my baby or child who died a long time ago?
Why am I still grieving?
How can I remember my baby or child?
Can talking about my baby or child help?
Is it too late to get support?

Don't use the word 'closure'. It's always open. 



- Jason, whose daughter died.

Should I still be grieving for my baby or child who died a long time ago?

In the months after a baby or child dies, people often acknowledge your bereavement, rally around you and offer support. However, as the years go by, it can often feel like others have forgotten your precious baby or child and that you are expected to be ‘over it by now’.  You may feel awkward about the fact that you are still feeling sad and, if your baby or child died many years ago, there may be people who don’t know that you had a baby or child who died. This can feel very isolating.

No matter how long ago your baby or child died, your grief is as legitimate as that of someone more recently bereaved. Grief is a life-long journey and it is normal to continue to feel sad and to want to remember your child. 

Someone said to me the other day, “Don’t you think it’s time you should, you know, let it go now?”.   You can’t let it go, that was your child, that was your baby, they are forever your baby, you are forever a mummy, you are forever a daddy, forever part of your family, and for me you can’t let go



- Dawn, whose son died

Why am I still grieving?

Even though your baby or child may have died many years ago, there may be times when you revisit your grief and the intensity of your feelings may be surprising and overwhelming, such as your child’s birthday, the date of their death or special occasions such as Mother’s or Father’s Day.  Some parents find it difficult at times when their child would have reached a particular milestone such as starting school, or when surviving children or other people’s children reach these.

I always wonder what might have been and what he might have been doing now



- Will, whose baby son died

There may be other triggers or reminders, or you may not know why you are feeling your grief just as intensely.  Whatever the reason, acknowledge these feelings and be kind to yourself.

People say time heals but I don't necessarily agree with that. I can't imagine what we lost getting any smaller, but the gaps of time between my active grief are going to get bigger.



- Vicky, whose baby daughter died

      How can I remember my baby or child?

      However long ago your baby or child died, finding ways to remember can be helpful. Decades ago, in many cases families were encouraged to ‘forget’ their baby or child and carry on with their lives as though nothing had happened.  Today we know that it helps families to have a ‘continuing bond’ with their baby or child, finding ways of remembering and maintaining a connection in ways that comfort you but which fit in alongside other important things in your life.

      For some people, it’s helpful to visit a grave or other remembrance site, but in the case of babies who died many years ago this may not be possible.  Other ways to remember might be to write about your baby or child or do some artwork connected to your memories.  You could also light a candle, go on a walk somewhere special that is significant to you or look at photographs and other items that hold memories or significance for you. 

      Many organisations like Child Bereavement UK, The Compassionate Friends and Sands (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Charity), and some hospitals and hospices provide opportunities for parents to come together to remember their children, regardless of how long ago they have died.

      Christmas is a difficult time, because there is one empty chair.  But, as time goes by, you get used to it. We always mention his death, and we think – now, how old would he be now?  And he would most likely have had a wife and children, and so on, and that is really sad to us, to think that we haven’t seen how his life would go on. We always talk about him, and that’s not what everybody else wants to do.  We remember things that he did, and said, we remember all his favourite things



      - Mary, whose son died

      Can talking about my baby or child help?

      Some parents whose child or baby has died say they find it helpful to talk about them, yet family and friends may be uncomfortable starting a conversation for fear of upsetting you.  It can help them to support you if you make it clear that you would like to talk about your child.  

      You may sense that talking about your loss may be difficult as it may put others in touch with their own fears and bereavements, or there may no longer be anyone in your life with whom you feel comfortable talking about your child. You may be able to find other people outside of your family who can support you in a more helpful way, either by talking to a professional and/or joining a peer support group with others who have experienced similar experiences. Find out more about the support offered by Child Bereavement UK.  

      Going to the group sessions which involved people in similar circumstances – it’s made me bring up a lot of the things that were hidden inside me that I couldn’t discuss with a lot of other people. But inside this building you know you’re in a safe place to talk to those people that have dealt with the same thing



      - Roz, who attended Child Bereavement UK's peer support group after her son died

      Is it too late for me to get support? 

      However long ago your baby or child died, it is never too late to access support. Many people find it makes a great difference to be supported by people who are prepared to listen to them. Some will find this support amongst their own family and friends, others will prefer to seek help from professionals, peer support groups, or a combination of these.

      Professional bereavement support offers time with someone whose role it is to listen and who has the training and experience to understand. You can say exactly what you think or feel and know that you are not upsetting them in the same way as might happen with family and friends. Many bereaved parents tell us that professional support, be it as an individual or as a couple - even after many years have elapsed - provides the only time in which they feel safe enough to talk openly about their thoughts and feelings without any judgement. 

      Having a support group that understands makes all the difference



      - Will, whose baby son died

      Child Bereavement UK offers support for bereaved parents and carers, no matter when your baby or child died.

       

      See our range of short guidance films on related topics: 


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