Symptoms of Grief

When a baby dies, normal symptoms of grief are varied. Parental reactions and intensity of feelings may differ. Typical reactions include:
  • Crying, loneliness, a feeling of isolation.

  • A need to talk about the death and the details of what happened.

  • Feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, depression.

  • Anger, guilt, blame.

  • Loss of appetite, overeating, sleeplessness, irritability.

  • Inability to concentrate, comprehend or remember.

  • Loss of goals and aims in life, a sense of desolation about the future.

  • Aching arms, phantom crying, frequent sighing.

Grief can last far longer than you or others may expect and has many ups and downs. The first year can be especially difficult when parents ask themselves painful questions or torment themselves with the following statements:

  • Why did this happen to my baby, my child?

  • Why did this happen to our family?

  • Why didn't I know something was wrong?

  • Why didn't I go to the doctor sooner?

  • It's all my fault!

  • If only . . .

There may be no adequate or satisfying answers to these questions or statements. Anger and guilt are common reactions and usually accompany grief. Try to share and express these feelings as a way of releasing them, eventually forgiving yourself and others. Also, parents find it helpful to take time to acquire information that deals specifically with this loss and to become familiar with the facts associated with infant death.

Recovering does not mean to go on like it never happened, it means learning to live with the loss, and recognizing you are now a different person. You will become what is normal for bereaved parents, not what is normal to the rest of the world.