Your grief for the parents
As a grandparent, you will be grieving the death of your grandchild, as well as feeling pain for the parents. It can be distressing to see your child coping with the loss of their baby. Grandparents have told us that they feel powerless to know what to do, or how to help.
“My instinct was not as a grandparent but as a parent. All my thoughts were for the parents, who had lost their child. I wanted them to know I was there for them, to support and love them, but also give them space to grieve. I didn’t want to add to their pain and sadness by them seeing my own devastation.”
You may have experienced grief before and know what it feels like. But it is very hard to understand the grief of losing a child if you haven’t experienced it yourself. It may help to read more about coping with grief after a neonatal loss for parents.
Your own grief
Your own grief is likely to hit you hard. You may have been excited about the pregnancy (and birth) and already planned a future with your new grandchild. This loss will probably be quite painful, and it will take time to come to terms with what’s happened.
“I felt helpless. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t take their pain away. All I could do was listen, console and comfort them.”
Seeing your grandchild
Some parents may ask you to spend time with the baby. This may be because introducing their child to their grandparent was something they had been looking forward to or because they want to recognise their baby as a person who lived.
Parents have also told us that this helped them create memories of their baby. They’ve been able to talk to the grandparents about family resemblances or take photos of their baby with the people they love. There will be a lot for you to think about in these early days, but try to follow the parents' lead.
“Both our mums came in to see Owen. They had no experience of this and it definitely affected them. But it meant a lot to us that they had a chance to meet him.”
The funeral and commemorating the loss
By law, a baby born after 24 weeks must be either buried or cremated. Depending on when your grandchild died, and the wishes of the parents, there may also be a service or a funeral.
There are lots of ways families can commemorate their baby now and in the future. You may want to join in with these or you may have your own private way of remembering and mourning your grandchild.
You might choose to talk about your grandchild openly with friends, or you might decide to keep this more private. There is no right or wrong way to grieve.
Read more about planning a funeral.