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Sibling grief after perinatal loss

Siblings Grieve too....

Siblings in bereaved families suffer two losses: the sibling they were expecting and their parents as they knew them before the loss. The surviving children may differ in how they grieve, and may perceive substantial, even permanent, changes in the family’s equilibrium
as grieving parents become emotionally unavailable. They live with parents whose behaviours are altered by intense grief, often at an age when they are too young to understand what
is happening. The family frequently lacks a sense of direction and this state can continue for a long time. The pain never goes completely away; it can only attenuate. Research has found that siblings in grief after a perinatal loss experience disappointment and sadness that
might entail a feeling of helplessness over a long period of time.

Explaining the death of a baby to siblings can be extremely daunting and difficult for parents, who are also dealing with their own grief following the loss of their child. It is
very common to feel worried and anxious about how siblings will be affected by the death
of their baby brother or sister. Parents will be unsure about what to say and how much to
tell, they will want to protect them, especially when the siblings are very young and may
well struggle to understand the concept of death.

What helps younger children is very much the foundation that helps those older children too. Children learn how to grieve by copying the responses of the adults around them. They rely upon adults to provide them with the help and support that they need as they grieve.

Each child will have their own way of working through and dealing with their grief.
They should be encouraged to express their individual feelings by recognising, discussing and acknowledging the death of their baby brother or sister to keep the memory of their baby brother or sister alive within the family

While parents are creating memories of their lost baby, it is important to include their other children. Our Sibling Support Packs help and support this memory making.

Depending on their age, siblings may want to choose a teddy to add to your memory box or to place with their lost baby brother or sister. Siblings can work with their parents or with the hospital bereavement staff to write in a journal, keep a diary, talk to a worry doll, take their own hand and footprints, have a photo of their lost baby brother or sister or read a story that is special to them.

Having a sense of a continued link with their lost baby brother or sister is an important part of coping with grief. It is also supportive to give siblings opportunities to remember their lost baby brother or sister, especially on birthdays, anniversaries and other special times. 

The total cost of our Sibling Support pack is £25. If you would like to donate or fundraise
to enable us to continue to provide Sibling Support packs then please get in touch. We are really grateful for all the help that we receive to enable us to support bereaved siblings in their time of need, as Siblings Grieve too.

Thank you.

Children, like adults, will experience shock and disbelief when experiencing Bereavement.  Children may not take in everything at once. They will assimilate as little or as much as they can bear at any one time. Child Bereavement UK supports families and educates professionals when a baby or child of any age dies or is dying, or when a child is facing bereavement.