SIDS and Grandparents

The Grief of Grandparents
From the moment you became a parent yourself, you have sought to protect your child from the pain and sorrows in life. Mostly, you have been successful; you’ve had the ability to solve problems, the power to lessen hurts.

Suddenly, your child is facing a pain far deeper than any other pain in life. It may be deeper than anything that you have ever experienced, or perhaps you can understand this sorrow because you, too, have lost a child.

Either way, you are now experiencing a variety of emotions: helplessness, frustration, grief, guilt, and anger. You are suffering a “double grief”. You are grieving for your grandchild; all your hopes and dreams have been shattered, your “promise” of immortality has been broken. You had wondered if he or she would “favor” your side of the family, wondered what he would “become”, and had perhaps even bought gifts for “later on” (like that first tricycle or that special doll). Your grief may not even be recognized by your own child, but you are, most definitely, entitled to it. Grandparents are often referred to as “the forgotten grievers”. ¹ You had a special relationship with your grandchild – one of unconditional love unhampered by parental responsibility.²

You are grieving just as deeply for your own child. You feel frustrated and helpless because this is one pain that you can’t “just kiss away”. All the little ways that you had to coax a smile from that child are useless now; all the magic words that used to solve the problems are empty. You can only sit by, offer support, and watch your child learn to live with this loss.³

Footnotes
1. Gyulay, Jo-Eileen. “The Forgotten Grievers”, American Journal of Nursing, September, 1975.       1476-1479.
2. Gerner, Margaret. “To Bereaved Grandparents”. The Compassionate Friends.
3. Gerner, Margaret. “To Bereaved Grandparents”. The Compassionate Friends.
 
A Poem for Grandparents: Double Grief
The death of my grandchild
And the grief of my son
Pull on the heartstrings
And I am undone.

In secret I mourn beyond relief
For I have been give a double grief.
God, help me to deal with the pain and sorrow
Of living without the hope of tomorrow.

Andy Cipriano, TCF, Tallahassee, FL
TCF National Newsletter, Summer 1992