I couldn't take their pain away

Rani’s grandaughter, Zara, was stillborn. She talks about the challenge of staying strong for her daughter while grieving herself.

Rani, whose grandaughter Zara was stillborn at 27 weeks

We were devastated when our daughter’s baby, Zara, was stillborn.

I felt angry. This baby would have been so well looked after, so loved by our family, there are so many children who are neglected and it didn't seem fair.

Then I felt pain. Pain for my daughter, Charnjit, and her husband, Joe.

I felt helpless - I didn’t know what to do. I couldn't take their pain away. All I could do was console and comfort them.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to go and see Zara after she was stillborn. I’d been in hospital having a triple by-pass and I wasn’t strong or well enough to do this at the time.

As a grandparent you look forward to holding the new baby with so much happiness in your heart. I couldn’t face holding a grandchild with all that pain and grief in my heart.

It might have been helpful for Charnjit and I would have liked to say good bye to Zara. But I didn’t want to add to her pain.

There was a beautiful funeral for Zara. Charnjit and Joe were so strong. They handled everything without asking for help.

We let off balloons in memory of Zara. It was beautifully done. The funeral helped me with my grief and it brought the family together.

When Charnjit and Joe were ready to talk, I listened. I think that helped. I’d been through a personal experience like this and I know how important it is to listen. When Charnjit was ready, she told me how she felt, she grieved and she talked. I comforted her and listened.

The death of a grandchild is a life changing experience. It brought back difficult memories for me. I shared my own personal experience, which I hadn’t talked about before to my daughter. It was emotional.

Afterwards, she said, “Mum, I feel even stronger now. You’ve been through so much and not even spoken of it.”

As a grandparent you need to think as a parent as well. At the end of the day, my daughter had lost her child. My instinct was not as a grandparent but as a parent. All my thoughts were for Charnjit and Joe.

I think a lot of grandparents take over and that isn’t what the parents need. I wanted Charnjit and Joe to know I was there for them to support and love them but also to give them the space and chance to grieve. I didn’t want to add to their pain and sor-row and sadness.

I channeled my energy into helping them. We’re a close family. We made a point of being there for them. In our own way, we dealt with it together. We all became stronger through our love for Zara by being there for each other.

Charnjit grieved for a long time. Some people dismissed it and said, ‘She’s young, she’ll have another one.’ I don’t understand how people could ignore that I’d lost a grandchild and tell Charnjit to ‘move on, try again.’ People need to change their perception of losing a child and be more aware of what they say. You can add to a parents’ pain by saying the wrong thing.

We still talk about Zara. She will be much loved and always in our thoughts. Rather than closing that chapter, we still talk about her. Zara has a special place in our heart and will always remain there. She is a special girl.

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