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Offering Support to Parents Who Lost a Child to SIDS

Category: 

Grieving Process

Posted On: Feb 10, 2017

Offering Support to Parents Who Lost a Child to SIDS

SIDS, or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, is the nightmare of parents all over the world. The name says it all—SIDS is sudden and, even worse, there are no real explanations for it. Parents can't test for it. There are no signs indicating that it may or may not happen. Often, there's no proper explanation for why it happened, either. It happens out of nowhere, shocking, absolute, irrevocable, and soul-shattering. Parents who lose a child to SIDS need love and support, but because theirs is a unique grief, it's crucial to approach things carefully.

Research SIDS First

Very rarely will anyone ever tell you to research anything before offering comfort to someone going through bereavement. With SIDS, the subject is so delicate, painful, and difficult to understand that it's worthwhile to learn more about it before approaching the parents. It just keeps you from saying or doing the wrong thing. You see, SIDS as a definition is disappointing because there isn't really a definition. The “syndrome” is a mystery. It isn't genetic; it doesn't occur due to suffocation, aspiration, or regurgitation; it's not a case of sleep apnea—there's no real reason for it to happen to any baby, which is something to keep in mind as you visit the grieving couple.

Understand that the Grieving Is Intense

Anytime a parent loses a child, the grief is stronger, more devastating, and more intense. It's gut-wrenching. The couple you see now is not like the couple who just came home with a new bundle of joy. The shock of such a monumental change—to go from celebrating a child to mourning it—is unnerving. You're walking into a home filled with pain.

Stay Away from Cliches

Parents who lose a baby to SIDS are angry. They're furious, confused, and hurt. They neither need nor want to hear cliches. Don't say that it's a blessing the baby didn't suffer. Don't tell them that they can have a new baby soon. Do not advise them to count their blessings. Pay attention to their emotions and focus on the depth of those instead. Listening matters more than speaking.

Above all, love these parents. Talk about their baby. Use the child's name. The parents will be so grateful.