The Rest of the Family

Every family has complex relationships – husband/wife, parents, in-laws, brothers and sisters, and perhaps other children. Grief comes into these relationships with many different effects, often causing chaos and confusion.

In the midst of your own very personal grief, you may not be able to tell how other family members feel. Assume that they care, because they probably do, even though they do not express their feelings.


If you have other children, they will be affected by the loss of the baby also. Be honest and open with them. Explain what has happened. Include them in your mourning. Cry together. Be generous with affection. If you are able to see or hold your baby, bring your children with you. This can be an important learning experience, teaching them that death is a part of life and helping them say goodbye. Most important – listen to and appreciate your child’s feelings.


Grandparents often experience a double grief – sorrow for their child who is suffering and sorrow over their own loss of a grandchild. They would like to take away their adult child’s pain, but there is nothing they can do about the loss. They also had hopes and dreams for their grandchild. It is a frustrating time. They may try to help, but their efforts may be interpreted as taking control and over-stepping the parenting role of their adult children. Sometimes there is another problem – the grandparents may have had little experience with grief. They may not have learned how to grieve and thus may be in a poor position to understand and help their children.


Other family members – brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and so on, will be concerned about your grief and may want to help. Let them know what they can do to support and encourage you.


  • Let your genuine concern and caring show.
  • Be available to listen or help with whatever else seems to be needed.
  • Say you are sorry about what happened.
  • Allow the parents to express as much grief as they are feeling at the moment and are willing to share.
  • Encourage them to be patient with themselves, not to expect too much.


  • Do not let your own sense of helplessness keep you from reaching out.
  • Do not avoid them because you are uncomfortable (being avoided by friends or family adds pain to an already intolerable painful experience).
  • Do not say they ought to be feeling better by now or imply judgment about their feelings.
  • Do not tell them what they should feel or do.
  • Do not change the subject when they mention the loss of their baby.
  • Do not avoid mentioning the baby or the baby’s name out of fear of reminding them of the loss and pain.
  • Do not try to find something positive to say about death.