If you’re here because you or someone you know has lost a baby, I’m so sorry. Any bereavement is painful, but the loss of a child is devastating. Whatever the age of your child, and whatever the circumstances, having to bury a child is out of the natural order of things. It’s the most difficult thing a parent can face.
Losing your baby early in pregnancy can be just as heart-breaking because you form a close bond with your child as soon as you find out about the pregnancy. You imagine your future as a new parent and your child growing up, and with the loss of your baby your dreams and expectations are lost too.
There’s no wrong way to feel
After losing a baby you can be affected by intense emotional and physical reactions. You could feel an intense need to hold and care for your baby. You could be struggling with shock and disbelief if your child died unexpectedly.
Often the grief can make it hard to remember things and make decisions. You might find yourself feeling very angry or very guilty. Sometimes there’s a strain on close relationships as family members are grieving in different ways.
All this is normal, and there’s no ‘wrong’ way to feel.
I know it can seem like there’s no way to move on. But you have the strength to survive the loss of your child, and there are steps you can take to begin to heal.
Things you can do to help you cope
Everyone’s grief is different – you don’t have to try all these things, but you can choose the suggestions you think will be helpful for you.
Allow yourself time
Accept that you will need time to come to terms with your loss. Giving yourself time to grieve isn’t a sign of weakness, it means you’re confronting very difficult emotions and this takes courage.
Don’t be too hard on yourself, or pressure yourself to get better. Some days will be easier than others, so take one day at a time. You have the right to grieve at your own pace, and you deserve to get the help and support you need. Whatever works for you, let yourself continue doing it, for as long as it helps.
Talk about your baby
However long your baby was alive, he or she is unique, and telling someone your child’s story is a way to keep your memories close whilst helping you come to terms with what happened.
You might want to share memories with people who also knew your child – family and friends, your health visitor or midwife. You might prefer to write down your experiences in a journal or a letter to your baby. Writing is a good outlet for pain, and putting your strong feelings into words can help you understand and overcome them.
Attend a local support group
Sometimes it might feel that other people don’t understand, or don’t know what to say. Speaking to others who’ve experienced the same loss can help you feel less isolated. They will understand what you’re going through, and reassure you that what you’re feeling is normal. The charity Sands runs a national network of support groups for bereaved parents. You can find your local group here.
Join an online forum
If you would rather stay at home, there are online support groups and forums where you can connect and share experiences with people who have gone through child loss. Reading messages of support from others can be very comforting.
You might want to read about other people’s experiences rather than sharing your own, and online forums, social media groups and charity websites are a good source of stories and messages of hope posted by bereaved parents.
Call a helpline
There are national helplines you can call if you’re having a difficult day, feel overwhelmed or just need someone to talk to. The Child Death Helpline is staffed by fellow bereaved parents who can empathise with you, and offer support. It’s available for anyone who’s been affected by the loss of a child at any age.
You might feel you have to put on a brave face to save other’s feelings, or even put your grief on hold to support a partner.
It can be easier to talk to a stranger, and counselling is a safe and confidential place for you to talk openly. A therapist is trained to understand your point of view, and to support you through the most intense of feelings. He or she can help you access your inner strength so you can start to heal, and offer you coping strategies that are tailored to your individual needs.
Create a memorial or tribute for your baby
Creating a memorial is a way to honour your baby’s life and keep your baby’s memory close to you. This could be anything you like, such as a memory box, or an online journal. You might want to include photos or scan images, casts of your baby’s hand and footprints, or thoughts and messages from others.
The charity Sands provides free memory boxes containing identical items like a teddy or comforter. One is for you to keep, and the other can be put to rest with your baby. The Lullaby Trust has the option to set up an online memorial on their website.
Take part in an activity to honour your child’s memory
If you feel the need to keep busy, you might want to do something to help other bereaved parents or raise awareness of child loss. Offering support to others can promote your own healing process. Joining a fundraising event is also a good way to meet like-minded people.
You might choose to do something more personal, like planting a tree or a beautiful garden to commemorate the life of your baby. You could include an engraved seat for somewhere to sit and reflect. You might want to plant flowers that have special meaning to you, or symbolise the month of your child’s birth or due date.
How I can help you
I’m qualified in person-centred counselling and hypnotherapy, and I specialise in supporting parents after infant loss. I understand how overwhelming losing a child can be, and I offer you a safe space to express whatever you’re feeling in confidence. I can help you process your feelings so you can start to come to terms with your loss.
I offer face to face counselling in Manchester, and online counselling via Skype across the UK.
I hope these suggestions help you through this difficult time. Please remember, you’re not alone. You will never stop loving your child, but you can find a way to heal and to carry on, keeping your baby’s memory close to you.
If you need someone to talk to, please get in touch with me.
Sands is a charity that offers support for parents and families affected by infant loss. It has a national network of support groups and fundraising events. Sands also provides free memory boxes.
The Lullaby Trust is a charity that helps those affected by SIDS. It has a helpline and online forum, with the option to create an online memorial for your baby on their website.
The Samaritans is a free 24 hour helpline for emotional support at any time, night or day.
The Child Death Helpline provides free telephone support for anyone affected by the loss of a child at any age. It’s staffed by bereaved parents.
Child Bereavement UK is a national charity that gives support after the loss of a baby or child at any age. It also provides help and advice to children who have been affected by the death of a sibling.