For grandparents, a grandchild's death creates a "double" grief.

From the moment you became a parent yourself, you have sought to protect your child from the pain and sorrows in life. Mostly, you have been successful, you have had the ability to solve problems, the power to lessen hurts. Suddenly your adult child is facing a pain far deeper than any other pain in life. It may be deeper than anything that you have ever experienced, or perhaps you can understand this sorrow because you, too, have lost a child.

Either way, you are now experiencing a variety of emotions: helplessness, frustration, grief, guilt, and anger. You are suffering a "double grief." You are grieving for your grandchild; all your hopes and dreams have been shattered, your "promise" of immortality has been broken. You had wondered if he or she would "favor" your side of the family, wondered what he would "become" and had perhaps even bought gifts for "later on" - like a first tricycle or special doll. Your grief might not even be recognized by your own child, but you are, most definitely, entitled to it. Grandparents are often referred to as "the forgotten grievers." You had a special relationship with your grandchild--one of unconditional love unhampered by parental responsibility.

You are, at the same time, grieving just as deeply for your own child. You feel frustrated and helpless because this is one pain that you cannot "just kiss away." All the little ways that you had to coax a smile from that child is useless now, all the magic words that used to solve the problems are empty. You can only sit by, offer support, and watch your adult child learn to live with this loss. Grandparents often think that "they should cope better, have all the answers, control the situation and be an example." When all that they have offered: advice, financial aid, babysitting, experience, and help, is not accepted, asked for, or is even rejected, they feel guilt, frustration and anger.

A SIDS death is uniquely difficult because of its very nature. Its suddenness and the lack of answers for important questions intensify the grief reactions. As grandparents, understanding what is known about SIDS and SUID is vitally important. Talking with other SIDS and SUID grandparents may help.

The Iowa SIDS Foundation serves the entire state of Iowa.  Grief packets and peer contact support is available to Iowa grandparents experiencing a SIDS or SUID death.  Contact us for more information.