Thursday, May 17, 2012

Grandparents - So often forgotten

Thank you to Shana McLaughlin from Louisiana who is a grandmother of 2 angel grandbabies – Lilly who was only 6 when she died in an auto accident in 1991 and Jeremy was only 31, a young father of 3 year old twins, when he took his own life in November 2011.  Shana was given this shortly after Jeremy died and hopes that it will help another grandparent the way it has helped her and her husband.  I totally agree that grandparents, like siblings can often be forgotten when a child in the family dies, so many thanks for sharing…  Cherie Houston 

Forgotten Grief:
Grandparents are often forgotten because attention and grief are focused on the parents of the child. Grandparents grieving the loss of a grandchild feel a double-edged kind of pain. They feel the pain of not being able to make things better for their own child coupled with the pain of losing a family member. Grief can be complicated, and a grandparent may not feel as if they are allowed to grieve openly.
It's vital that grandparents allow themselves the opportunity to grieve - even if it has to be privately - to allow themselves to process the loss. Take the time and process the loss while focusing on yourself. You're not going to be any help to anyone if you don't allow yourself the opportunity to grieve. And remember, there is no timetable on grief and everyone grieves differently.
Whether your grandchild dies from an infection, is stillborn or a miscarriage, SUDC (Sudden Unexplained Death of a Child), cancer, an accident, took their own life o some other tragedy - the end result is the same: grief, questions, pain, emptiness, and often guilt – and the feeling of a limb being missing, because, well, it is missing.

Survivor's Guilt:
No one ever expects to outlive their own children. It's unnatural to bury a child. As a grandparent, you may feel full of guilt, remorse, and misplaced anger because you have survived while your grandchild has not.
Often, grandparents wish they could change places with the child who has died.
Grandparents may feel haunted by unanswerable questions: "Why didn't I spend more time with the child?" "Why am I alive while my grandchild is dead?"
Grief-stricken grandparents must learn to live their lives but always be haunted by the might-have-beens.
While these feelings come along with the new normal, each day can also bring hope and healing to the bereaved grandparent and their child.

Ways to Process this Tragedy:
·         Don't feel like you have always to be the strong one. It's perfectly fine for you to be sad and show that you're sad.
·         Go through the grief process. It's essential that you process this grief in order to be able to hold up your child.
·         Talk about the grandchild. Remember that you're not going to remind your child of the child they lost. They want you to talk about them. They want people to remember that they existed.
·         Remember that watching your child grieve and long for their child is going to be hard. Your remembering the birthdays and anniversaries of the child's death is going to help them heal over time. And by helping them heal, you will begin to heal. You want to fix them, but since you can't, helping them move through their life without their child is the next best thing.
·         Listen to your child. You cannot heal the pain they're going through, but you can be a shoulder to lean on, someone to wipe their eyes. It may be hard to hear their complicated grief, but they will need you.

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