Siblings and Stillbirth(10 Posts)
This week we lost our baby boy at 36 weeks. It was a rapid, very early morning dash to hospital and DD was unaware of what was happening apart from that we were going to hospital and her grandma would take her to school.
DD is 3.8. Smart, articulate but emotionally still very much a three-year-old. We spent lots of time preparing her for becoming a big sister, that there was a baby growing inside mummy, and what life was going to be like with a new baby. She took it all in, was so excited and was looking forward to cuddling baby, etc.
We've explained as best we can that the baby has died, and so he can't come home with us. She has met him and had a cuddle and we explained that because he had died, that we had to say goodbye to him. She knows that this makes mummy and daddy feel sad.
She has come across death before, in that her great-grandma died last year, and in some ways she seems to understand. She asked if GGM was going to look after baby, because they have both died. But she didn't see GGM very often, so weeks could go by without her coming up in conversation whereas we talked about this baby every day, he was part of our lives in a very different way. She'd felt him moving.
I want to be honest with her and explain things to her, but without causing unnecessary upset. But, I'm struggling to know what to say (as much my own feelings as anything else). For example when she seems to have forgotten, and asks where the baby is, is it still in my tummy, when is he coming home, etc. We keep to the same simple version of what we've already said but I don't know if this is the right thing to do. Any advice?
I think you're doing brilliantly. As hard as it is, a gentle reminder that the baby died is needed when asked.
There are plenty of age appropriate books about death and bereavement. May be worth looking into it. Help her iron out the timeline, and that death is the end.
I'm so sorry for your loss
At 3.8 she will have very little understanding of death, particularly that is forever - as she doesn't understand the concept of forever. Although her great grandma died last year, at 2 she would have understood even less so that isn't really helping her now.
So I think you are doing brilliantly by using clear simple language to explain and not being phased by having to do it over and over again.
Hope you are bearing up OK
I am awfully sorry for your loss. Our son was 2.5 when this happened to us so a little bit younger. He remembers nothing of it and very little of his sister's arrival 51 weeks later.
Straight forward honesty is best. It is very early days for all of you. Please be kind to yourselves. SANDS maybe helpful in the coming weeks.
How are you feeling physically and are you getting good professional, clinical support?
I'm so sorry for you loss. Loosing a baby truly is the most heartbreaking g experience.
I know sands do a great booklet of telling and dealing with siblings.
We're you given any information on sands from the hospital? They have been a life line for us.
It sounds entirely appropriate. Our stillbirth was actually out eldest child but she came up in conversation with the others as they grew-up and she is an accepted part of our family, just not with us. They do tend to ask the same questions over and over again, which can be hard, but it is lovely that she met and cuddled the Baby.
So sorry for your loss
It sounds like you are doing really well. I'd carry on addressing it if it comes up just as you are.
Don't be surprised if she asks loads of questions years down the line ( and don't be surprised if she doesn't. )
Thank you. I should perhaps have clarified in the OP, we're not in the UK which makes things somewhat trickier. We're on the continent with only limited local language skills (shopping is easy, putting words to feelings is harder), but I will look and see if SANDS can make anything available in English. I hadn't thought about that.
I'm physically ok thank you Beaufort, I have a lovely friend who is also a midwife and is fantastic, and my doctor is very caring. The language and strange system (strange to me, not that it is enormously weird) make it harder.
Thank you all
My mum had a still birth when I was about that age and I don't remember it.
I have some memories of my mum being prsgnant but I reckon I mixed them up with the memories of her pregnant with my brother who came along a few years later.
It was explained at the time I'm told, then just not really talked about after till I was an adult. My mum didn't want annual memorials etc. I think what you do for your dd depends what you want to do for you. If you want to keep a photo displayed and have a memorial each year then you'll need to keep talking about him. If you would rather not discuss it then your dd will slowly forget. It's up to you.
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