How can a grandparent help?

I recently received a posting from a grandparent asking how they can best help their son/daughter with their grief? Grandparents are in a very difficult position as they face their own unique grief while at the same time wanting to support their children.

We have several very good resources at for grandparetns, but I think the best suggestions would come from the parents who have gone through this experience. If you are willing, share what helped and what didn't help that your parents did or did not do. I have no doubt that many people will be touched by your comments and hopefully families will have a better experience because of what you have to say.



  1. my mother came to care for my living children for 2 weeks.

    at christmas, she framed a beautiful card with my daughter's name on it.

    she also gave me a beautiful figurine of a mother and infant so that i always have something to look at to remember that that sweet baby was mine for a time.

    to me.... anything that honors her memory or the place she holds in my heart is special.

  2. My due date was 1/1/10, but our twins were born and died 7/30/09 at 17w6d.

    What helped:
    1. For Christmas, my mom gave us 2 personalized ornaments (one for each child) and ordered a brick to be installed with our kids names on them at the zoo in my hometown.
    2. My dad offered to read my personal statement at the memorial service, because I knew that I wouldn't be able to.

    What didn't help:
    1. My mother-in-law didn't attend the memorial service for our kids.
    2. My dad told me, the day after Christmas, that he didn't want to see any more pictures of our kids.
    3. I didn't receive any acknowledgment of Mother's Day this year from anyone in my family.
    4. My mother-in-law questions why we're continuing to do things to honor our kids.

  3. Don't be afraid to mention their baby. My parents never want to mention Alexandra because their afraid of hurting me and want to "spare my feelings". I finally had to tell them to not be afraid because I love hearing her name and having her be part of a conversation. It makes her "real".

  4. My husband would never blog, but I always come here so that I can see what I can do to help make things bearable for him in his grief. I can say that one thing John has told me that upsets him about his mom (and I agree, but keep it to myself) is that she makes our loss more about her than it is. I don't know how to nicely say that, because we ADORE her and we don't know what we'd have done without her since Matthew has died...but when she stands, crying, and tells us that her heart hurts more than average because not only has she lost her grandson, but she has to watch us suffer and she can't do anything about it or have anyone to comfort her (dad died 3 years ago and her heart is of course still broken)--it just sort of makes us feel like we have to comfort HER--and we're just not up to it.

    I can only imagine how hard it is to watch your children suffer---and not be able to do anything about it. But her watching us suffer the loss is NOTHING compared to my husband holding his dying son--watching THAT suffering and then him dying.

    So, while I get that grandparents are in such a hard place, not telling us that it hurts them to watch us suffer would help. We can't help our suffering, but almost feel forced to cap it so we don't hurt our parents, and we just don't have the emotional energy for that.

    What a blessing our parents are, though...and that they love us so much.

  5. What helped/is helping me most is when my parents leave me to grieve on my own. They have learned that I need my space. When our son passed away, my parents seemed to think that I needed to them....that I needed them to make it all better. No one can make it better. No one can fix it. As a parent, I realize what their mindset was, but it didn't help me that they wanted to smother me and constantly be close to me because their mindset was, "This is my daughter. We know what she needs." They didn't stop to realize that their daughter had just become a mother and that her mindset had shifted completely from needing her parents and being dependent on them to being the parent her child needs and depends on. I resented their need to nurture because I wanted so badly to nurture my child, but he was gone, so I pushed them away. Finally, they realized that when I needed them, I would come to them. They've also had to let go....and let me go through this process in my own time and in my own way, which i know has been difficult for them. Unfortunately, there is no guidebook....we all deal with grief in different ways...and our families have to adapt to what works best for all of us.

  6. This is perfect, and exactly what I hoped this blog could be. Thank you SO much -- keep it coming.

  7. What a great topic! I'm a mom who has grieved the loss of 6 miscarried babies and 1 stillborn son, and I'm now a grandma who has grieved the loss of 3 miscarried grandbabies. We (grandparents) can often help our children who have experienced loss by sharing our own experiences of loss with our children, and validating their loss. We can also gently remind them that there will be a day when they will see joy once again. By us just "being there" and asking from time-to-time in a genuine way, "How are you feeling today? Do you want to talk?"...often helps our children know that we haven't forgotten.

    I'm finding it difficult in my own family to grieve the losses of the miscarried babies while sharing in the joy of the born babies. It's a mixed bag of emotions. Great topic!

  8. After reading some of the comments, I have to agree with them:

    1. Mention the child who passed away. Nothing hurts more than someone, especially family, not acknowledging your child. I love to hear Ayden's name spoke aloud. My friends are so great about this. However, our family seems to think they'll hurt us more by saying his name. Wrong - it hurts more for you NOT to say his name. He is so so special to us, and he should be to them as well.

    2. Don't tell your child, the grieving parent, what they should do to process their grief. Let them grieve in their own way, and only question them if their actions are life-threatening to them or those around them.

    3. Don't expect too much from your child - the grieving parent - and don't rush them back into "normalcy" because "normal" will never exist again. Our families tried to rush us into family events, and our immediate reaction was one of complete hurt. It seemed like they had already moved on, and we were stuck....our son was gone...yet they were still able to move forward with their lives! Give the parents time to much time as they need.

    4. Lastly, don't make your grief out to be worse than the grief of the parent who lost their child. We know you're hurting; we know you've just lost a grandchild, but we've just lost OUR CHILD, and you DON'T know what that is like. It's NOT the same.

  9. I have appreciated reading all of your comments this morning. As a grandmother losing 2 grandbabies in 10 months, I was awakened to the fact that 1 out of 4 pregnancies ends in a loss. These statistics were staggering and as I have listened to recent stories and stories from many years ago, I realized how we as a society need to continue to expand our capacity to grieve our losses. I was frustrated with limited ways to respond to my children living in another state. Filling their home with flowers seemed superficial. My husband and I have started a non profit to help families, grandparents, extended family, friends, communities support and acknowledge the loss that is suffered with a life affirming gift. A loving legacy in the name of the baby is made to the foundation, a personalized art print is sent and the funds help living children in the areas of health, safety and education. We have created our loving legacy and invite you to create yours. Marika

  10. Having lost my twin boys recently I would agree with the comments above, and would add that it is helpful to initiate conversation about your child/children. Although I may feel like grandparents should just feel free to talk about my boys, they may not know it is safe territory until I use specific words like their names, birthday, mother's day, or father's day. This has been true for everyone close to us—not just grandparents. It may seem too exhausting to put forth the extra effort in your time of grief, but it will be well worth it in the long run.

  11. We just went through the passing of our son while i was 20wks pregnant. I had been on bed rest for 6 wks before bc of a rare condition called preterm premature rupture of membranes. My water broke at 13wks2days and i did not go into labor and our son was doing well. They told us from the beginning the odds were not in our favor. We fought til the end. To add insult to injury the ob accidentally cut my uterus during the surgical delivery and didnt know it and i bled internally, lost all of my blood and almost didnt make it. After emergency surgery, 7 units of blood, pneumonia, and 2 weeks in the hospital i finally got to come home. We give God all the glory. The short time we had with Mason brought so many wonderful things to our lives. He brought some of our estranged family together. And we got to see several peoples display of faith in God. It has been a beautiful experience and i am proud God chose me. Every time i can share this story and it touches someones life reassures me of Masons great purpose. Tim you and your story are an inspiration as well. You have a beautiful message and i am glad you have found a way to share it. Thanks for sharing, it really helps. Kristen

  12. I just lost my baby girls on July 16th. the were born at 19 weeks. I am not sure how to handle everything. I kinda feel like i have no one to talk to.

  13. May God give you strenght, I lost my daughter after 4 weeks recently