Grief over the loss of a grandchild ranks as high as the
pain of losing your own child. However, grandparents are often overlooked when
sympathy is doled out for the grieving parents. Grandparents themselves may
overlook their own grief, feeling not only severe sadness over the loss of
their grandchild, but unexplainable grief that their child has to deal with
such a tragedy. They may feel helplessness at the compounding grief. It is true
that both the parents and the grandparents have lost a bit of their future.
It is important that grandparents realize the pain they are
in is normal. They should expect to deal with the stages of grief as any other.
Depending on the circumstances surrounding the death, they may feel guilt for
not knowing the child was ill, or from not seeing an accident waiting to
happen. During this time it is communication between the parents and
grandparents that will help to keep feelings of guilt at bay. Remind each other
that it is not any ones fault. Grandparents and friends should avoid
comparisons to other deaths. Each death is unique and each process of grieving
will be unique. Do not expect your child or mother and father to act as your
friend did. It is okay to grieve. Time and compassion will help to start the
When offering sympathy to the grandparents remember to use
as much sensitivity as you would if you were talking to the parents of the
deceased. Avoid cliches. While you may mean well, and some cliches may be true,
it will not be well received when they are in the midst of great turmoil. Offer
to help organize meals for the child, be willing to call their friends for
them, and above all respect their grief. Not only is their child hurting and
they can not take away the pain, but they have also lost their grandchild whom
they rejoiced over as much as they rejoiced over their own child's birth.
Grandparents and grandchildren have a very unique relationship and bond. Many
grandparents bond with their grandchildren as they did with their own child.
The pain of losing a grandchild is coupled with the heartache they feel for
their own child's pain.
Grandparents can need just as much support from their
friends as a parent who loses a child. They can sink into a deep depression
that is unhealthy and unproductive. Remind them it is okay to grieve, and help
them to experience the sorrow and pain they are feeling at that time. Grieve
with them, but do not try and take it away. Help them to realize that tears are
an appropriate response to the grief and pain associated with death.
While they will want to bring comfort to their children,
they in turn will need comfort from friends and family. Be there when they need