reactions to death
Brothers and sisters will also be
affected deeply by the death of the baby. Smaller children who are
too young for explanations need only to be shown love and affection
by their parents. They may have some very frightening thoughts that
they cannot express. (Did I cause the baby to die? Will I die too?
Will Mommy and Daddy die? Am I still a big sister or brother? Who
will take care of me now?) They may cling to their parents and do
other things to get attention. It is most important for them to know
that they are loved and secure.
Older brothers and sisters
experience grief reactions which may vary depending on their ages
and past experiences. Sometimes they feel guilty because they
mistakenly think they may have caused the baby's death. They may be
very sad or may appear not to have any feelings.
Children should be told as much
about the facts as they are able to understand. All older family
members should be open to expressing their thoughts and feelings.
This openness will enable the children to express how they feel and
to ask questions about the death. It is best not to say, "The baby
went away," or "The baby is sleeping in peace." It is important to
explain that SIDS occurs only in very little babies and not in older
children or adults.
Many youngsters have been sources
of strength for their families. They have written poetry and often
exhibit simple, unshakable faith about the pattern of life and
death. Some children, on the other hand, because of circumstances of
age or emotional makeup, have felt terrible insecurity after a
sibling's death. This loss of security has manifested itself in
nightmares, bed wetting, difficulty in school and other
disturbances. Any such problems should be discussed with the child's
doctor. Other SIDS parents can also offer practical tips and
Lines of communication about the
death should be kept open for years since children's questions and
ability to understand change as they develop. They will need more
complete information over time.
The Iowa SIDS Foundation serves the entire state
of Iowa. Children's grief packets are available to Iowa
families experiencing a SIDS or SUID death. Contact our office
at 866-480-4741 or
firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.