Grandparents – The forgotten grievers
There are many articles, journals and blogs about grieving parents. However, grieving grandparents are not widely studied. In fact, there is limited knowledge in this area. As a grief and bereavement counsellor, I would like to raise awareness for grandparents that are grieving. We should not let a grieving grandparent go unnoticed.
Despite the lack of academic research in this area, we do know that grandparents experience two types of sorrow, the grief from the loss of their grandchild and pain from their own child’s grief. Seeing your child go through something so painful is unbearable. Knowing this, we can only imagine how powerless and concerned a grandparent must feel in this situation. They only want to support and help their child cope but by doing so they often dismiss their own grief.
Louise (pseudonym) lost her grandchild 2 years ago. Aiden passed away after 34 weeks of pregnancy. Louise wants to share a bit of her story. She hopes to increase the awareness for the grief that grandparents experience and support other grandparents who are going through the same.
“As a parent or grandparent, I never thought about losing my grandson. To see my little girl, go through so much pain was the hardest thing I have ever experienced in my life. No word. No hugs. Nothing I could do would ease her pain. I could only reassure her that I would listen and that I would always be there for her.
After Aiden passed away I had conversations with people who were “outside” my close circle. They tried to give me advice, saying things like “At least she will be able to get pregnant again”. They used the word “miscarriage”. Sometimes people did not say anything at all and ignored me. This was difficult and painful. I try to think that they didn’t know better. But I cannot ignore the fact that their words and their ignorance hurt me.
Now 2 years have passed. Aiden is and will always be a part of our lives. Often we think about him. We imagine what he would look like and what his personality would be like. I can’t deny that sometimes I am a bit jealous. Especially, when I see other children who are around the age that Aiden would be now.
If I look back now, I wish that some people were a bit more tactical in their choice of words. And if they had not known the right words. I wish that they would have simply told me that. Sometimes I think that people have forgotten about our little boy. Only once in a while someone will ask me about him. I know the world keeps turning and everyone has their own life. But for my family and myself it doesn’t matter if days, months or years go by, we will always miss our little boy and we will take our grief forever with us.
For grandparents who have lost their grandchild, I can only say that for me the pain never goes away. But it does become more bearable. The rough edges are softer now. And if you feel like you want to talk about your loss, do not hesitate. Counselling helped me more than I ever could have imagined”
This blog focussed on the grief of a grandparent. However, the death of a child or baby affects everyone in the family. This can be an aunt, uncle, grandparent, niece, nephew or siblings. Supporting someone who is experiencing grief might be difficult. Perhaps the blog “6 ways to help a loved one through grief” might help you. If you are experiencing grief yourself, try reading “10 ways to cope with grief”.