Due Date, Birthdays, Anniversaries, Mother’s & Father’s Day, Christmas, Easter and Holidays
The first year is definitely a difficult year for parents. They will experience “many firsts” without their baby. Parents never forget their baby. Letting your friend know you are there and thinking of them on these dates, not only for the first year but consecutive years, is important and very comforting to a grieving parent to know that you have not forgotten either. A small gesture of a birthday/thinking of you card, flowers, visit to the cemetery, or gift is truly appreciated more than words can say. If they are quiet, withdrawn, snappy or emotional around this time, especially during the lead up to special dates, understand that they are trying to cope.
There is no time limit to grieving. Grief is definitely not over in 6months nor 12 months. It takes time to re-adjust to life again, especially as a grieving parent. A supportive friend will check in now again and see how they’re feeling, particularly after the first 3months when reality is really sinking in and life for everybody else begins to move on again. Don’t assume that parents forget about their loss. It only takes a quick phone call or visit to see how they are traveling and to show that you care. It’s also important to do this over an ongoing period to gauge if depression may be lingering.
A Subsequent Pregnancy/Baby
Falling pregnant again or having a healthy baby after their loss will never replace the pain and love that parents have for their angel baby. Another child does not mean that parents stop grieving or forget about their angel. Parents will often feel quite frightened and anxious with this new pregnancy as they have experienced first hand that not all survive. Their grief may also intensify during pregnancy, especially nearing milestones of their angel baby. Family and friends can support them by continuing to be there and not dismissing their fears and anxiety about their current pregnancy. Bringing home a healthy baby is a true miracle and bereaved parents understand this all too well.
Grief and its impact
Grief changes people. Some parents are not the same person as they were before they lost their baby and never will be. Please don’t expect that same person to come back or for them to get over it. Expecting them to move on within a certain timeframe is unrealistic, unhelpful and inconsiderate. Many parents can be traumatized by their loss and lose all sense of what “normal” felt like. Parents can become disengaged from life, lose passion in their previous interests and struggle to find themselves again. Grief can put pressure on relationships, the ability to work, and the emotional capability of the individual. Parents will move beyond their sadness in their own time, developing new thoughts, beliefs, dreams and aspirations and all this is very normal.
Mental Illness is on the rise in Australia and depression is certainly something that is real but not well understood or recognized. The symptoms and their severity may be different for each person.
- Disturbances to normal sleeping patterns (too much or too little, difficulty in getting to sleep or being unable to wake up in the morning, frequent waking during the night)
- Loss of appetite or overeating
- Loss of pleasure in activities, loss of passion for previous hobbies/interests
- Loss of sex drive
- Excessive crying and being easily upset
- Thoughts of suicide
- Restlessness, agitation and irritability
- Headaches, digestive disorders or nausea
- Extended feelings of sadness, anxiety and hopelessness
- Impaired concentration, difficulty in remembering and making decisions
- Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
If you identify these signs of depression in your friend please:
- encourage them to see a doctor
- offer to make an appointment for them
- offer to take them to the appointment
- keep in contact with them
- encourage them to get involved in sport/exercise, catching up for lunch, getting outside,
- help them find a support group, or a counsellor
Most importantly, look after yourself as well.
There are many support choices available for parents, family and friends. If you feel you or your friend may be in need of further support please refer to our list of Bears Of Hope Services aswell as other Australia-wide Services on our website.