Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Infant death ~ Continued ~ Part 2 of 2

~ By Mayo Clinic staff, Shawna Ehlers, Ph.D.
This is continued from our Blog Posting on April 2, 2011: Again, Shawna Ehlers, Ph.D., a psychologist at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn., and an assistant professor of psychology at the College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, continues to answer challenging questions about coping with infant death.
When my baby died, so did my hopes and dreams for the future. How can I go on?
Grief can cloud much of the remaining good in life, especially in the period right after an infant death. You may find it difficult to invest renewed hope and excitement in any part of your life — but learning to continue living is part of the grieving process. For help making the adjustment, seek support from other parents who've been able to find solace in living. When you're ready, participating in family activities and special occasions can remind you that you're loved and supported.

My partner and I don't seem to be grieving in the same way. How can we find strength in each other? Grieving can take a heavy toll on marriages and other intimate relationships. Accepting your partner's response to grief can be one of the most challenging aspects of grieving as a couple. It can be tough to accept your partner's coping mechanisms if they don't fit your concept of grieving. For example, perhaps you feel closer to your baby by talking about him or her every day — but your partner copes by looking toward the future. If you don't recognize these differences, you may wonder whether your partner supports you or even cares about your baby's death. But the differences don't need to pull you apart. To strengthen your relationship, work toward compromises. You might agree to limited discussion times, encouraging the more talkative partner to supplement the need for conversation with understanding friends or support groups. To respect the other partner's need to look ahead, schedule a social event once a week during which you agree to focus on the pleasurable aspects of your life together.

How does the grief of infant death ever reach resolution? As time goes on, your grief will begin to fade. Eventually you'll find it easier to engage in other aspects of life. The first anniversary of the baby's death and other poignant reminders will be difficult, but they'll get easier with time. Sadness surrounding your baby's death may never go away, but with time it may more closely resemble remembrance than heart-wrenching grief.

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