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do we let our toddler view her baby sister's body?

(38 Posts)
BettyFriedansLoveChild Mon 12-May-14 15:19:10

We lost our second child after a placental abruption last week. She was born without a heartbeat, resuscitated, and spent three days in intensive care before the decision was made to withdraw care and let her die peacefully. Our toddlers is two years and two months, and seems to have forgotten that she was going to have a new sister - we have shown her a picture, but it doesn't seem to have registered. She does realise that mummy and daddy are very sad, and that I have recently come back from hospital. We are going to view our baby daughter's body once more before the funeral. Has anyone let a child of this age view the body of a sibling in order to say goodbye to them? I can't work out if this is a terrible idea or not.

fluffyanimal Mon 12-May-14 15:20:41

I have no idea how to advise you but I just wanted to say how sorry I am for your loss flowers

HecatePropylaea Mon 12-May-14 15:23:18

I am so sorry for your loss.

I haven't been through this and I really don't feel qualified to even offer my opinion on what I think I might do.

Can you contact a counselling or guidance service who are experienced in this and talk it through with them?

VanGogh Mon 12-May-14 15:23:28

I am so so sorry for your loss. I have no idea what to reply but I am sorry for your loss x x x x

HeartsTrumpDiamonds Mon 12-May-14 15:23:58

I am very sorry for your loss flowers

I have no experience of this, but I don't think I would take your older daughter. It doesn't sound like she needs "closure" or anything, and she might find it traumatic.


magimedi Mon 12-May-14 15:24:52

Firstly, I am so very sorry for your loss. flowers

I have no experience of this but my gut feeling is that as your toddler seems to have forgotten about her sister & isn't showing any concern I would say not to take her.

Bluetinkerbell Mon 12-May-14 15:27:30

First of all, I am so sorry that you lost your little girl.
I think it is completely up to you, you know her best, but it's not something that you can repeat if you wish, no second chance possible sad

My eldest DD was 2,5 when I had a late miscarriage at 20 weeks. We didn't let her meet her little sister as she was very very small. But she did see pictures of her afterwards and was present at the funeral. She talks about her almost every day.

Sending you much love and strength for the coming time

Sparklingbrook Mon 12-May-14 15:28:36

I am so sorry Betty. My thought would be not to take her at that age, but maybe the Bereavement counsellors at the hospital could guide you?

LiberalLibertine Mon 12-May-14 15:28:44

I'm so sorry love, what a terrible time you must be having.

In answer to your question,I can only answer that I personally would leave her in blissful ignorance.

Best of luck with the tough times ahead x

BauerTime Mon 12-May-14 15:29:06

I'm so sorry for your loss, i cannot begin to imagine what you are going through.

Although as previous posters have said also, I'm in no way qualified to advise, i think you should probably do what is right for you, rather than your DD. You say she doesn't understand what's going on and i doubt she would understand what was happening if she goes with you to say goodbye either. But i get the sense that you would feel like you are robbing her of the chance to say goodbye if you keep her away.

Howstricks Mon 12-May-14 15:32:10

I am so sorry for your loss. A bit different but some friends of mine lost their baby at 33 weeks. They had a 3 year old. They explained to her it was like growing flowers. Sometimeswhen you plant the seed the flower doesnt always grow..they had planted sunflowers at nursery and some of them hadn't grown or stopped growing along the way,so she understood the very simple analogy. Then, to be honest, as she was small and they live in the moment she went and watched Peppa Pig. Now she is older they talk about her sister and remember her. They did not show her the baby, though she looked perfect as they didn't feel she would gain anything from it and didnt want to worry her.

thedaymylifestoodstill Mon 12-May-14 19:19:44

Hi Betty

I am so sorry for the loss of your daughter.

We lost a DD almost a year ago. We have other DC, the youngest who was 2 years 5 months at the time.

I remember reading up about it and looking it up and decided after careful thought that our DC's would meet their baby sister, after all they had known we would be having a baby soon and knew that I had been in hospital and was sad when I came home.

It really is a personal decision but I have to be honest and say it is not something I regretted doing. Before we went in to see our baby at the Chapel of Rest we explained what they could expect (in simple terms to them obviously, that she was cold, she was dead...sorry to sound harsh but we told it to them so they could understand).

They saw her, the youngest wasn't too interested but wasn't upset at being there. They took things in for her. It was sadly beautiful if that makes sense. To me I felt that because she was part of the family they should be there. But that was our decision.

Our DC's have not been terribly affected by it. TBH I think being open and honest about it all and talking about it with them whenever they want has helped so far to navigate. That's not to say they aren't sad, or are not sad because my DH and I have changed, but we are working through the saddest part of our lives together - never forgetting the little one who couldn't stay.

I hope this helps you in some small part, Winstons Wish is a good site to look at, or a Health Visitor?

Sending you love xxx

MrsMaturin Mon 12-May-14 19:27:00

I'm very for your loss.

Given that your dd is so young I rather doubt there is any direct benefit to her in going with you. When she is older you will be able to talk about her sister to her but I would be very surprised if she ever asks specifically if she had seen her or indeed was to feel any sense of completion from knowing she had. That being the case I think you need to prioritise you and dh. Will it help YOU to have her with you? Or would it be better for that to be a time for you both to share with your younger daughter? Whatever your gut response is, go with that. That's the right thing to do.

Fattyfattyyumyum Mon 12-May-14 19:29:20

I wouldn't take a toddler to a chapel of rest, particularly one who is showing no deep understanding of the situation.

Take the time for yourself and DH to grieve and be thankful your older child is too young to understand.

gertiegusset Mon 12-May-14 19:31:36

So sorry to read this but no, I wouldn't. flowers

lucidlady Mon 12-May-14 19:34:40

I'm so sorry for your loss.

Navybluetutu Mon 12-May-14 19:35:49

So sorry for your loss. It's obviously a very personal decision, but I'm not sure i would take such a young child, who may not be able to process what has happened. Have you considered asking your daughter if she would like to make a picture or chose a soft toy or similar that you could take with you to the chapel of rest? Maybe then as your daughter gets older and you speak of her sister you can remind her she gave her something precious? X

Navybluetutu Mon 12-May-14 19:37:32


Tweasels Mon 12-May-14 19:39:40

I'm so sorry for your loss flowers

I probably wouldn't as I think she us too young to understand. It's lovely that you have pictures and can show her her beautiful sister when she's old enough to comprehend it all.

My thoughts are with you xx

Kundry Mon 12-May-14 19:41:47

So sorry for your loss. I don't think there is a right or wrong thing to do here. At 2, your toddler will not understand death but will understand that mummy and daddy are very upset. When she is older, she won't remember whether she came to see her sister or not.

I think it is up to you whether you want to have this time just you and your DH together or with your toddler as well - bearing in mind that she may find it boring, upsetting to see how upset mummy and daddy are or ask a lot of really inappropriate questions, or behave absolutely perfectly. It may be difficult for you to have this precious time potentially disrupted by a tantrum for example.

ipswichwitch Mon 12-May-14 19:46:24

I'm so so sorry you've lost your wee girl. I don't really know how to advise you. We lost one of our twin boys at 34 weeks but had no older children. Our nephews were 2.5 and 7 at the time and as they are very close to us, they knew what had happened. The oldest DN does remember but his younger brother doesn't and neither of them saw our son.

It's a very difficult situation and so hard to judge what to do for the best. My gut tells me not to, but to talk about her sister and maybe get her to choose something to take to the chapel of rest for her as Navybluetutu suggests.

thedaymylifestoodstill Mon 12-May-14 19:53:08

hi Betty

just a thought do you have a health Visitor on the NICU or Bereavement Midwife at the hospital you could talk to?

I really feel you may benefit from talking to others who have experience of this - as much as the other posters have given you their opinions i would imagine not many of them have experienced what you are going through so only can offer what they think they would do in that situation. I would have said the same before what happened to us. (Other posters please accept my apologies if that is not the case).

It is only because it is such a personal decision that I think it would be beneficial to you to talk it through with someone with experience of dealing with it.

I'm here if you want to talk xx

MrsMaturin Mon 12-May-14 19:55:12

I suppose something else to think about is whether you would like a photo that has them both in it. I have seen a beautiful picture of a parent holding their baby's hand after the baby had passed away. All you can see is the two hands. It's a very moving image. I am not sure if you can 'plan' to have that kind of picture but as things stand your toddler won't be scared by seeing her sister. She may find it odd and struggle to grasp what's happening but she won't be distressed. So again, if there is comfort for you in that idea then go for it.
I really think you and dh need to prioritise what you need in this situation.

Itsfab Mon 12-May-14 20:01:22

I am so sorry for the loss of your lovely baby.

My feeling is not to take your daughter to see her sister, for many reasons really but no one knows your toddler better and you need to be happy with whatever you decide.

BlueSkyandRain Mon 12-May-14 21:12:19

Betty, I'm so very sorry you find yourself in this situation. I don't know how useful it'll be but I'll share my experience in case it helps at all. Sorry it's a bit long...

I lost my son at 36 weeks just over a year ago, also due to a placental abruption. We have 3other children, who at the time were 8,6 and 4. They weren't able to see their brother after he was born, as it all happened so quickly during the night whilst they were asleep. Possibly in hindsight we should have brought them to the hospital to see his body the next day, but we weren't exactly thinking clearly at the time. They were very upset about never having met him, and we gave a lot of thought to whether they should visit his body in the chapel of rest. In our case, this was a good while later as we had opted for a pm so it was after that.

Dh & I went to view his body ourselves in order to make the decision, and it was then an easy decision: whilst his body looked fine - as in not a terrible scary thing to see, it just didn't look anything like he had when he'd just been born. The change was probably much more pronounced for us as 2 or 3 weeks had passed, but I suspect even after a short time that would still be the case to some extent. If our dcs had viewed the body, their only memory would have been of seeing an empty shell, that no longer looked like their brother. That was, tbh, how I felt about it at the time.

Whilst our children continued to wish they had met their brother, we felt so certain it was the right decision, it really helped me to deal with that particular part of their grief & not feel guilty.

So, I suppose I'm saying I don't think it would be terrible if you took your daughter with you - I don't think it would be traumatic in any way, but I'm not sure that would be particularly helpful either.

I can't help wondering from what you've said whether it's less about her saying goodbye and more about trying to make sure your dd remembers her sister? I know I would have found it very difficult if mine hadn't remembered their brother, even though I also wanted to take their grief away. If that's the case, and is where the question is coming from - I think, now being a year down the line, that our son's memory is kept alive by all of us, by how we see him as being part of our family. My dcs never met their brother, but they each have their own copies of his photos, and we talk about him freely whenever any of us want to. In your case, if you talk about her younger sister, and your photos are not hidden (I don't mean they have to be on the wall, just available in some way), she will grow up to not remember a time when she didn't remember, if that makes sense.

I hope some of my waffle helps a little bit. I'm sure whatever decision you make will be the very best one you can make at the time, and once again I'm so sorry your beautiful daughter died x

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