Helping your other children

If you have other children, they may react in their own way to the death of their brother or sister. Some may appear unconcerned, others may be especially demanding and irritating. Toddlers may not really understand what has happened but they will sense your grief and need extra loving care to feel secure. Older children will understand and grieve. Don’t feel that you must hide your grief from your children.

By letting them see your distress you may help them to express their own. Take care, however, that in your own pain you do not reject or neglect them. They need explanations and reassurance that the same thing will not happen to them or you, and that they need not be afraid to go to sleep. It’s best not to say “Your brother/sister baby died in his/her sleep” or “The baby went away” to your other children. How you explain the death to them depends on your own beliefs and the age of the child but they should be helped to understand that their brother or sister has died and will never come back. They should be assured that it was nobody’s fault. This is especially important if one of your other children was jealous of the new baby.

If your baby or child was a twin, your family doctor will probably examine the other twin, to make sure all is well. In some areas the other twin may be admitted to hospital for a few days.

With older children it is important to continue to keep the issue of the death open for discussion for years as a child’s questions and ability to understand change as they develop. They will need more complete information over time.

Often children can be a source of strength for their families. Some children, on the other hand, because of circumstances of age or emotional makeup, can become very insecure. This loss of security can manifest itself as nightmares, bedwetting, difficulty in school and other disturbances. Any such problems should be discussed with the child’s doctor.