Dear Auntie, My family is falling apart due to the death of a baby in our family…

Dear relative,

I am so sorry to hear about your family’s loss. Losing a child is a life-changing event. No matter the situation, a loss can be difficult to recover from physically, emotionally, and mentally. It is something no family should ever have to experience and yet it happens often. While you may have feelings of isolation or despair, please remember that you are not alone!

It sounds like your family is really suffering, and I am sure it is hard to watch them suffer. I want you to remember that how your family copes with grief is not your responsibility. You can offer love and support to your family, but I would encourage you to seek out support as well, by reaching out to a counselor or trusted adult.

What I have to offer is that there are ways for people to cope with the grief and loss of a child. It is important to remember that loss affects individuals, couples, families, and communities differently. Therefore, while the suggestions below may be helpful for many, they are not expected to be the answer in every situation. I strongly encourage your family to explore multiple avenues for expressing grief, dealing with emotions, and ensuring good mental health.

Tips for coping after a pregnancy loss:

  • Take as much personal time as you need following your loss; if possible, take time off of work, school, or other commitments. While people may expect you to recover quickly, the reality is that it can be a long process
  • Do not feel that you are to blame or that you could have done something differently – the loss was not your fault!
  • Do not worry about being judged by others – pregnancy loss is not something to be ashamed about
  • Mourn, remember, and memorialize in whatever way feels right to you
  • It may be helpful to put your thoughts and emotions into writing, either privately in a journal or publicly on a blog
  • Don’t be afraid to ask people for specific help; if you’re not sure what you need, it’s ok to vocalize that too
  • Talking with a counselor or therapist may be helpful in sorting through emotions
  • Talk about your child and/or loss if you desire. Don’t worry that others may be uncomfortable – it is your story to tell & you have every right to do so!
  • Be careful about turning to alcohol, drugs, or food during your time of mourning as you will be more vulnerable to misuse of alcohol or other drugs.

It is not uncommon for those who have experienced a loss to suffer from depression or thoughts of self-harm. In these cases, please seek attention from a grief counselor or therapist or contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Thank you for being a good relative and reaching out to learn how to better support your family, your love and compassion is going to help through this challenging time. Please take good care of your heart, while supporting your family.

All my love,

Auntie Manda

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