Surviving the Loss of a Child

Ways to heal and honor your child's memory.

Unique Grief

When a baby dies, it is beyond devastating. Hopes and dreams are shattered. Everything that should be -- a joyous home, a new life, a vibrant child -- is replaced by the most profound grief. There's no set time for how long it takes to feel solace following the death of a bay, says Penelope Bushman Gemma, a psychiatric nurse clinician at Columbia University School of Nursing, who works with families who have experienced the death of a child.

Some parents cry; others feel confused. Parents may experience anger, confusion, disbelief, a sense of failure, and sleeplessness, all of which are normal, explains Michael R. Berman, MD, clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Yale University School of Medicine. You can have such contrasting feelings, and all at the same time.

It's also common for parents to go through post-traumatic stress symptoms, such as nightmares. But perhaps most heartbreaking is the feeling of responsibility for the baby's death, regardless of what caused it. Parents who lose a child to SIDS, for instance, are often still questioning every decision they made.

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