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No one expects to outlive their own children, much less experience the loss of a much-loved, much-wanted grandchild. It is so difficult to raise a family, see your children do the same and see the cycle broken in this out-of-order way.  No one is prepared for the grief that follows. As a grandparent, you have double grief. You grieve your grandchild who has died, as well as for your own child who is now a bereaved parent. You not only feel your own pain and sadness, but also feel helpless and frustrated at not being able to help your bereaved child.

It helps to remember that there is no timetable for grief. Don't expect too much of your child, his or her spouse or yourself. At first, no one believes it. When the reality hits, everyone feels even more devastated. It is important to consider your needs as well as those of your bereaved child. Acknowledging and working with your grief will help you and indirectly, your grieving child.

Don't be surprised if at first you can't reach out to your grieving child. Remember that you are grieving. Be patient with yourself. Eventually, you may be able to talk, listen and help. IF you find that you can't help specifically with the grief you can send cards, tell them you love them, etc. Explain that you wish that you could be of more help but you don't know what to do.


  • Read about grief. It is important to understand what you and your child are experiencing.

  • ALWAYS let the parents take the lead when it comes to any decisions in regards to the baby.

  • Allow yourself to have feelings and to cry

  • It helps to be open and share your feelings. Your openness sets a good example for your child. Share the good memories and the good days as well as the pain of grief and the bad days.

  • Talk about your deceased grandchild. Mention his or her name.

  • Find someone with whom you can talk freely - a friend, support group member, clergy or counselor.

  • Be available to LISTEN frequently to your child. Respect your child's way  of handling the pain and expressing the grief. Don't tell your child how he or she should react.  If you say something wrong, it's okay.  Just let them know your words were not intended to be hurtful. 

  • At special times (anniversary of their passing, holidays, etc.) write and/or call your bereaved child. Mention you know what day it is. You are calling to say you love them and you wish you could take their pain away.

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